Your next big thing: Growth market & pampered kids

Written by Deena Waisberg

Start with Statistics Canada data showing real after-tax family incomes grew 9.5% from 1998 to 2003. Then factor in falling birth rates, which led to a 4.3% drop in the number of kids 12 or under. The result: parents with more to spend per child. Throw in a growing compulsion to lavish their kids with stuff you only dreamed of having, and you’ll see big possibilities in little people.

Birth to preschool: Research showing that early stimulation wires a child’s brain for life has parents gravitating to educational products for kids as young as infants, says Beth Thompson, co-author of Kidfluence: Why Kids Today Mean Business. And higher university entrance standards are stoking fears that average just won’t cut it anymore.That’s heating up the market for educational games, software and toys for tots, such as Baby Beethoven DVDs and The Mozart Effect music CDs. The same is true for “healthy baby” products. Jonathan Mitrovitch, VP of Toronto-based market research firm Proforma Consulting Ltd., says the desire to “create the best child” to cope in today’s ultra-competitive economy is boosting demand for organic baby food and mom-and-baby fitness programs.

School-agers: As work hours lengthen, parents want to make their limited time with their kids extra-special. Thompson says they’re willing to pay for travel products and services that deliver special experiences with less effort. Hotels with kid-centred services, tourist attractions with kids’ programming and travel gear for children will all find a market. And when parents can’t be with their kids, they seek activities that provide unique and tactile experiences in a digital world. Specialty activities are where it’s at, such as after-school karate or gymnastics, or summer-long robotics or space camps. David Graham, president of the Ontario Camping Association, says the most successful new camps are the ones that offer a specialized focus.

© 2005 Deena Waisberg

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