Feature Article - May 2007
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A Child's-Eye View

Expanding Your Audience to the Younger Set

By Kellye Whitney

onsider the choices today's child has for entertainment. Digital and online video games and technical gadgets of all kinds keep them plugged in and logged on. Endless cable channels and DVDs keep their butts on the coach and their fingers surfing channels when they're not surfing the Web. Myriad advertisements in faster, brighter streaming video literally flash on multiple screens and pop up to dazzle and grab pieces of their attention as they send text messages to friends and upload photos onto their MySpace pages.

All of these things share a common thread—none of them require a child to leave his or her house or interact face-to-face with another person. All activities can be done alone or interactively in "cyber" groups, and while there are tons of messages floating in the media to encourage healthy snacking and pointing out how to read the labels of this product or that one to make healthy choices, none of these activities has been proven to work well as a method of exercise or nutritional instruction.

So, how can more traditional parks, sports facilities and health clubs compete with that techie mentality and get kids onto ballfields and into rec centers to participate in team sports and other activities?

The short answer is to learn how to market to your audience. The modern child's brain moves quickly. They've grown used to processing many multimedia messages at one time, and as a result their attention span has shortened accordingly. Marketing efforts must adopt a whole new approach to appeal to younger generations, and sports, fitness and recreation directors have to evolve their marketing techniques in order to compete.