The other day my 15-month-old son Ryder got visibly upset (which entails him muttering “mamama” repeatedly) when I wouldn’t let him play with my iPhone. Truth be told, he’d rather suck on the case than use the phone to call his Brooklyn cohorts. But my four-year-old nephew is another story. Not only is he adept at using his finger to slide photos across the screen, but he can also use the gadget to decorate fake cupcakes, learn new words, play Dora games and more. In fact, he’s already requested his own iPod Touch from his parents… a $229 product for a child just out of diapers!
So it was hardly a surprise when I read in Fast Company this week that the iPhone 4, iPod Touch and iPad dominated the top three places on the Duracell Toy Report’s list of most-wanted Christmas gifts. Of the more than 2,000 children and parents polled, 39% of children desired Apple gadgets this year: 17% of five- to eight-year-olds, 50% of nine- to 12-year-olds and 66% of 13- to 16-year-olds all putting Apple items at the top of their lists.
Now, as adults, we’ve all felt the pull of Apple’s beautifully designed products. So with parents holding onto and “playing” with their own toys (aka smartphones) 24/7, is it any wonder that kids/babies today want the very same toys themselves? We as adults are captivated by them, so should we expect any less from our babes?
It’s all contributing to what my colleague Gregg Lipman dubbed “Generation Everything”, which speaks to the fact that there is now very little difference between adult spending preferences and youth/young adult spending preferences. Gregg notes: “Companies [like Apple] have successfully created branding stories that resonate across a spectrum of ages because they have largely ignored age-based demographic “insights” as they were, and instead focused on harnessing societal (the blurring of the generation/cultural gap) and technological (the desire to be ever more connected) trends to their benefit.” In layman’s terms, Apple has created products broad enough that savvy, second parties have come in and created applications that are cross-generational, from cupcake-decorating apps, which my nephew can play, to brain teaser apps, which my 94-year-old grandma can play. Why let a four-year-old pretend to be like Mommy and simply hold a phone when he can have Mommy buy him a game app so he can actually play with the phone?
That’s capitalism, friends, and precisely how a computer company like Apple can quickly become as trendy and relevant as my generation’s Cabbage Patch Kids.