Having recently explored the topic of “Adulting” in May of this year here at Z’Scoop, I received the assignment of writing an article on “Kidulting” by my publisher. I tried to look up the word “kidulting” on Google and found not one definition given.
Nothing. Zero. Nada. Zip. Not a definition to be found.
But what I did find was over 14,500 referenced links to what some clever marketers interpret kidulting to be. And now I think I get what it’s all about …
In September of 2014, Metropolis Magazine reported on the emerging “Kidulting” trend in an article titled, Kidulting: Design for Those that Just Won’t Grow Up, saying “childhood nostalgia is the inspiration du jour for designers.” Predicting that playfulness would invade all aspects of brand and product development, Metropolis went on to provide examples of how fashion, home furnishings such as seating and case goods, and even functional electronics design would appeal to Millennials through nostalgic, childhood inspiration.
In November of 2016, Landor published their annual Trendwatch for the next year and reported, “… discussions are springing up around not being an adult — cutting loose and having fun, maturity be damned. Enter a new trend for 2017: “kidulting.”
In the next year, kidulting will become a key means for brands to reach millennials. We’re already seeing this with experiences like Camp Grounded, which brings the joys of summer camp to grown-ups. Other kidult-focused activities rising in popularity: wine and paint nights (childhood art class with a twist); urban waterslides (harkening back to lazy summer days at the pool); and outdoor movies (remember drive-ins?).
But kidulting is more than mere nostalgia. It’s a millennial-style fusion of two worlds. Look for more brands to tune into that playful vibe through messaging, tone, and experiences. After all, you’re only young … forever.
In February of 2017, the American Marketing Association did a follow-up to Landor’s predictions and determined that Kidulting was indeed NOT a fad, but rather a continuum of a basic, long-standing marketing strategy — nostalgia for simpler times — and combining them with the struggles of society today:
“Kidulting isn’t a fad, it’s a fundamental mindset shift. Millennials are growing up and dealing with new responsibilities (something common to previous generations) in a way that is far more communal than ever before. Instead of quietly coping with difficulties, millennials are outwardly voicing their struggles and actively rebelling against aspects of adulthood. Kidulting is a means of counteracting adult responsibilities by letting millennials find mental space to cut loose.”
The AMA continues by saying, “Kidulting is also more than mere nostalgia, and campaigns that solely focus on connecting millennials with their past will likely have a shorter shelf life. The longevity of kidulting comes from taking modern struggles, new interests and recent technology and combining them with a little bit of childhood fun. As with anything, there will always be a certain proportion of the population that isn’t a huge fan, but the popularity of kidult-focused activities speaks for itself about its broad appeal.”
Using nostalgia in marketing and branding is not new — it’s been around since the beginning of advertising. In the 1960s, General Motors marketers appealed to the Greatest Generation by waxing nostalgic for simpler times that included “Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet.” In the 1980s, Coors Brewery used an image of E.T. and his famous glowing finger in their advertising. And there are thousands and thousands of other examples for Kidulting Marketing for each generation.
So here is what Kidulting is:
Technology + Nostalgia + Target Marketing + 2017 = Kidulting.
Kidulting is a new term for technology-age generational marketing, seducing us into action, using nostalgia to lure us in, and with a kid’s mindset of loving to have fun, it cajoles us into adult behaviors, purchases and entertainment.
And so what? Who’s not up for a little fun throughout our own journeys towards maturity? Who really wants to grow up? Let’s see a show of hands!
All books are available at amazon.com. Click on title to learn more.
The Peter Pan Syndrome
by Dr. Dan Kiley
Adulthood is a Myth
by Sarah Anderson
Adulthood for Beginners
by Andy Boyle
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