Why more brands should invite kids to brainstorm their strategy

The kids are all right. They are tapped into Snapchat, building empires, having fun with play and more connected than ever. It also turns out that they might know more about your business than you. Or that’s what some retailers are realising.

In case you didn’t know the latest focus group is not just the current consumer, but the current consumer’s little sister or offspring. And now, retailers from John Lewis in the UK to Target in the US have started to consult with kids to future-proof their business model.

Back in 2013, John Lewis the UK department store, launched its education programme called Bringing Skills to Life for primary school-aged children, to learn creative and practical skills with lesson plans, workshops and activity cards. Alongside this John Lewis also launched its Innovation Challenge to use the creative ideas that came out of its programme to enhance the retail experience. Last year, schools across the nation were tasked with imagining how The Shop of the Future would look and this year they were asked How the Back-to-School shopping experience could be made better. The winning ideas included everything from personalised backpacks to a hologram based idea, replacing the need for consumers to go into a changing room. Prizes for the schools included £1,000 worth of vouchers and a state of the art 3D printer.


And across the pond, for its back to school campaign this summer, Target put kids in charge, helping with the launch of its new childrenswear label called Cat & Jack. Target employees worked with children who were part of the design focus group and brainstormed different ways of marketing products to children. Target also created its first-ever kid-created marketing campaign.

Cat & Jack line from Target

Cat & Jack line from Target

“Kids and families are incredibly important to Target, and just as parents recognize the potential in their kids, Target does too,” said Jeff Jones, chief marketing officer, Target. “We were inspired to work even more closely with kids after seeing the difference they made in the development of our new Cat & Jack and Pillowfort lines. Now, we’re taking things a step further, allowing kids to put their mark on Target’s community giving and marketing campaign for the back-to-school season. Both are not only inspired by kids, but completely created by kids.”


This brand strategy is a smart one for brands namely because their future consumer is today’s younger generation, but also because kids generally have more out-of-the-box thinking. “This generation particularly has grown up with technology and is less likely to see limits, so this generation can take more innovative approaches to everything from design to packaging ideas. Also, any brand that puts the consumer at the heart of the product is already starting from a great place,’ says WGSN Senior Editor of Kidswear Erin Rechner.

It’s not just retail businesses harnessing the potential of kids imaginations either. Cool, creative, community projects are exploring the idea too.

kids imagination museum

The Ministry of Stories, a writing and mentoring group in East London launched a project earlier this summer called Hoxton Museum of the Future. The project encouraged young people to imagine how the city of London will look in the next couple of hundred years. Using a gallery space in East London as the setting, the location was split into five zones, each exploring a different theme: Creature Attack, Natural Disasters, New Worlds, Technology and Time Travel, detailed in a collection of artifacts, pictures and sound recordings.


All of the stories within the museum were written by Hoxton children aged 8-12, and the result? A cacophony of ideas, new technologies and solutions to growing environmental issues (and robots of course).


Combined, these projects all show the power of out-of-the-box thinking, and problem-solving at its best.

So clearly, if you want your project or business to be a success? Leave the kids in charge.

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