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SILC 2020: Kids Insights talks sustainability and future forecasting trends

Jonathan Watson, chief product officer, highlights kids’ push for environmentally friendly products and how the industry is progressing in the area of sustainability.

Kids Insights kicked off the Sustainability in Licensing Conference this morning (November 24), with the company’s chief product officer, Jonathan Watson, highlighting key findings from its licensing industry survey on the steps being taken in the sustainable arena.

The research specialist asked businesses how well equipped they felt they were in the current market.

76% of companies don’t anticipate to be operating in the same way in five years, as new technologies continuously innovate within this space.

One in two companies are investing more than ever into product development, content creation and collaborations. However, 52% do not yet feel fully confident that their new products due to be released will be a success.

Over 75% of businesses agree that it’s important to have effective, regulated data in order to drive business operations. However, within this large portion of companies (one in two) don’t believe that their business is easily able to adapt to changes in legislation.

92% of businesses agree that companies should develop a greater understand of the kids demographics.

Both Gen Z (born between 2000-2010) and Gen Alpha (2010+) are super informed. In particular, the latter have never known a world without iPhones, Spotify, Google and Amazon among others and, as a result, this means they can really be reached globally.

They are also in control – children are getting personal devices from a younger age. Technology is giving kids an opportunity to control what content they consumer, who they influence and how they behave, explained Jonathan.

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All of this means that children are ethical and aware, even from a young age. They are exposed to what’s going on around the world, across a whole range of issues.

They are also learning a new set of skills, often passively. For example, one in five kids in France aged 10+ are using TikTok, developing their video scripting, shooting and editing skills – and these are being used to get their messages to the world. One in ten kids aged over 10 are also learning to code at school in Germany.

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What this also means is that these children are becoming a force for change. They are using digital platforms to mobilise – examples of which include the school strikes which reached over 100 countries worldwide across the last year; YouTuber Mr Beast launching his #Teamtrees initiative, raising $20m in just 55 days with the aim on planting 20m trees; and mobilising to protest the ban on Fortnite from the App Store, using #FreeFortnite and amassing over 100,000 tags on Instagram and 553m views on TikTok.

Speaking of TikTok, for many reasons this is one of the most important content platforms of the moment. Due to its algorithm, trends on the platform can grow very fast, while TikTok users are 57% more likely than average to be concerned about the environment.

The platform has also significantly expanded to cater for older audiences – in May 2019, the peak age for TikTok use in the UK was 11, whereas in May 2020, the peak age was 16-18.

Purchasing habits are also changing and kids are voting with their pocket money, Jonathan continued. And one really important thing to consider is to what extend COVID changed children’s attitudes towards the environment.

Concerns over the environment actually dipped slightly when COVID first hit. However, the rise in the ‘democratic household’ due to lockdown means eco-conscious kids have more to say over their parents purchases.

So how are companies in the licensing industry adapting to a more sustainable world?

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Kids Insights’ research found that over half of business have a CSR (corporate social responsibility) strategy and/or sustainable policy. However, the vast majority do not have a dedicated department and 56% of companies do not utilise green energy.

Of the businesses where the question was applicable, 91% of companies are attempting to make a dent in the amount of single use materials they use to package their products – over 70% are already implementing a strategy.

Despite this, a large portion of businesses have little knowledge of global sustainable policy. Only 28% of companies are definitively aware of the UN’s sustainability goals. 58% of businesses haven’t implemented any of these goals in their corporate strategy.

However, there is an appetite to make a difference and companies believe that they can.

Jonathan also identified how business models could shift to keep up including the introduction of the ‘clothing-as-a-service’ model, which was bought to the fore by Selfridges announcing it would be renting clothing.

Brands, said Jonathan, could utilise a subscription model to simultaneously provide access to the latest products while also reducing their overall impact on the environment, while second hand shopping has also become more prevalent, as illustrated by Depop’s 99% increase in popularity over the last six months.

For more details of Kids Insights’ latest reports, check out kidsinsights.com/silc.

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