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New study reveals children crave playful participation and fandom influence

New study reveals children crave playful participation and fandom influence

London UK – 12th February 2024: Family-focused strategy agency Kids Industries (KI) has today launched new global research, taking a deep dive into the mechanics and sentiment around Fandom in the age of attention scarcity. The study reveals a big shift from passive to active consumption, the study reveals that 41% of children want to be more creative, play and have fun with their favourite brands. Fans are looking to take a more active role – with 22% looking to create fan art about their brand, 19% wanting to more actively engage with fandom communities (26% for 12-14 year olds) and 19% are hoping to shape and influence the very trajectory of the brands they love.

Commenting on the research, Jelena Stosic, Strategy Director at KI, said: “Our latest study paints a clear picture – the number of children considering themselves a fan of something, is increasing. 76% of children worldwide (rising to 90% in India) now consider themselves fans of something, highlighting the immense potential for brands to harness this passion. Compare that to our Global Study figures a year ago (though aged 6-13 rather than 6-14 in this study) and we can see there’s been a 13% increase. 

“The issue, however, is the overflowing landscape of content. Young people are bombarded with choices, making it harder than ever for brands to capture their attention and hearts.

“While children have access to more content than ever before (with the study finding 61% of parents even praising its quality), 70% also struggle with information overload, making it crucial for brands to stand out. Furthermore, 43% of parents say that their child finds it hard to focus and 34% went on to say that their child almost never watches a full episode from start to finish. So, what can brands do to cut through the noise? The answer lies in creating genuine human connections, being more open to co-creations and fan influence and generating immersive and social experiences. After all, our study found that 98% of children’s fandoms involve people, often seen as cool, happy, friendly, inspiring and brave.”


At this time when kids are increasingly browsing social content platforms where algorithms serve them content based on their interest, a significant 38% of children are autonomously immersing themselves in various fandoms. Yet, the influence of their online and in-person friends, contributing 23% and 27% respectively, along with the pivotal role of family recommendations (33%), cannot be overlooked – especially in the US where familial influence rises to 46%. Remaining a constant presence in their lives – be it through online platforms, gaming experiences, or social media, also proves to be an important factor in discovery – 30%. Furthermore, 21% find their fandoms through advertisements and promotions and 18% are introduced through school activities.

Moving from spectators to active participants

Fandom now stretches beyond passive consumption. Today’s children crave participation and influence. 41% want opportunities to play and have fun around their favourite brands, while 19% want to impact the direction of their fandoms. This shift demands a move from traditional marketing to creating participatory experiences. 

Notably in the UK a huge 81% of children want to engage with as many things about the brand they can get their hands on (games, videos, collectables, etc.). 

Unleashing creativity – providing tools for self-expression

The research showcases the rise of user-generated content (UGC), with 52% of children creating their own fan art or content. 42% even participate in contests and challenges. Particularly noteworthy is a trend in South Korea where 55% of children said they were learning new skills with the brand / personality they were a fan of or incorporating it into their other hobbies. 

Brands can empower this creativity by providing tools and platforms for self-expression, fostering deeper levels of engagement and loyalty.

Shared experiences strengthen fandoms

Fandoms thrive on shared experiences, and family and friends play a crucial role. Sharing fandoms with loved ones is a key driver, with 29% planning to do so in the coming year. Creating immersive moments and shared touchpoints – physical or digital – can forge lasting memories and solidify these connections.

The Future of fandom – 2024 and beyond

Looking ahead, the study found that 31% of children hope to experience their fandoms in new ways. 29% would like opportunities to deepen their knowledge and connect with others and sharing with family and friends will be a significant driver of engagement.

Developing a sense of closeness to characters and communities will be key.

Stosic concluded: “The attention scarcity we experience today is changing the way fandoms are built. To build and harness the strongest fandoms, brands need to focus on key opportunities that give higher emotions, attention and, therefore, build memories, too: being more personal, more open, more immersive and social. Fandom unites across generations, and by understanding the core emotional drivers, brands can unlock powerful opportunities to connect with young audiences in meaningful ways. Developing fans doesn’t come without its challenges – it’s a complex topic – but together with our service – The Fandom Model – and accompanying insights, we can help brands to activate a number of levers and better engage their audiences.”

About the research:

KI’s study was carried out using a data panel from Prodege in January 2024 across 1,644 families with children aged 6-14 across the USA, UK, India, and South Korea. 

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