Moms aren't the only ones buying tech toys for kids

Krystal Peak · April 20, 2012 · Short URL:

The first Mama Bear tech conference stresses the importance of talking to the whole family

Something definitely has awakened the mama grizzlies in Silicon Valley, and it isn’t some political provocation like Sarah Palin has often pointed to – it’s the fact that there aren’t enough people funding and supporting family-focused tech that families are clammoring for.

Close to 200 researchers, entrepreneurs and experts (many of them moms or dads themselves) gathered at the Mountain View Microsoft headquarters to discuss how to tap into the growing $2 trillion+ buying power of tech-focused families.

The newly forged Mama Bear Conference, started by 500 Startups' Christine Tsai, brought growing and established names in tech parenting sites to encourage and guide those in the early stage of company development and funding.

As more people shared their business building stories and asked questions about the changing purchasing habits of families, one theme was clear – keeping kids happy is something most families will spend a lot to do.

“Kids have much more influence on purchasing decisions than ever before . . . especially when the parents recognize when kids have more knowledge about tech products than they do,” Alison Bryant, president of PlayScience, explained at the conference.

She shared her research on just how powerful kids are and how underserved grandparents and fathers are in this growing industry of tech-related toys, games and services.

With most marketing companies trying to get a piece of mom all of the time, they seem to be forgetting about the village it takes to raise these kids.

Grandparents and dads aren’t spoken to enough in the market, Bryant pointed out, and when they are, they aren’t being talked to as that familial role – instead they are be talked to like men or as less-tech savvy.

“Digital dads are more involved in family media, especially newer tech – such as the high adoption rates that dads adopted the Wii years ago,” Bryant said. “Dads are more likely to spend more on tech-related items.”

According to Bryant, dads spend 45 cents more on iPhone apps and 75 cents more on iPad apps than moms do so don’t leave them out.

And as far as thinking of grandparents as the sweet family babysitters playing bridge and baking cookies, think again. The median age of a first-time grandparent is between 50 and 54 years old – and most of them use social media and have a smart phone. 

(Unlike some grandparents)

One of the most classic names in children’s toy’s, Fisher-Price, has caught onto this un-tapped gold mine of speaking to grandparents with its new website Grandest Time. This site offers product suggestions and review, creative game ideas and a newsletter to keep the older generation updated on the newest, coolest toys on the market.

So, while other companies are stuck in the stereotypes of yesterday, repeating the same strategies of pulling at the mom’s apron to get their kid a toy so that she can get a moment of piece, most of the family-focused startups at Mama Bear were stressing the involvement that everyone in the family has on educational and social tech.


(Image Source: Wired)

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