Why Big Brands Would Do Well to Engage Kids

Given the technological prowess of today’s youth and their passion for environmentalism, it was only a matter of time before kids started pressuring companies directly to change their dirty, earth-harming ways. That combination of gumption, cuteness, and ability to enmass an audience spells big trouble for companies that don’t pay attention.

At Sustainable Brands 2012, Andrew Winston took to the stage to discuss the New Shape of Leadership. One of the issues that is facing all companies is increasing pressure from consumers – most notably, the young ones.

Just take a look at this campaign against Crayola on change.org:

The kids aren’t just complaining, they are making concrete requests. Says Zachary, age 9 “I love your markers, but I’d like to tell you it’s polluting. So can I please send some of your markers back? I love your product, but hate pollution.”

Not only are kids asking for change – they’ve got numbers to back them up. The change.org petition has receive over 76,000 signatures

Winston was quick to point out that this issue is not unique to Crayola, “Every company has an issue like this that a 9 year old is going to bring to their attention.”

So what is a company like Crayola to do?

Winston advises them to pay attention, and respond.

Every parent knows how difficult it can be to say no to a child – just imagine the power of a mob of thousands of them who are raising an issue politely and suggest a concrete course of action to boot.

The combination is very powerful, and companies, especially those which count children among their consumers, would do well to listen.

Children deserve the same right to share their concerns, and have them noted and hopefully addressed, as other stakeholders.

Given that they have time on their hands and many years of life to lead as consumers – it’s a short term investment with the potential for long term return.

Readers: have you seen examples of companies that are doing a good job engaging kids? Share in the comments!

Jen Boynton

Jen Boynton is editor in chief of TriplePundit and editorial director at 3BL Media. With over 6 million annual readers, TriplePundit is the leading publication on sustainable business and the Triple Bottom Line. Prior to TriplePundit, Jen received an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School. In her work with TriplePundit she's helped clients from SAP to PwC to Fair Trade USA with their sustainability communications messaging. When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA -- court appointed special advocate for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with toddlers and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego.

One response

  1. Thank you for recognizing the “Kids Who Care” from Sun Valley School! Jen, you have made such an important point with your article here. All our best, Land Wilson (on behalf of the “Kids Who Care” from Sun Valley School)

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