Keep moving

One of the biggest side-effects of schools going 100% digital, as a result of the pandemic, is the fact that our children do not get as much physical activity as they used to while in the offline (normal) version of school.

I look at my own kids – they attend 3-5 classes every day. And sit in front of the laptop/tablet. They have physical education classes too, on some days where they exercise in front of the screen. But the overall level of physical activity is still far lesser than what they would be indulging in naturally in the offline version of school.

The sheer amount of walking, running and standing in the corridors and playgrounds of a normal school is so essential for children that I see the lack of it when they are attending video classes, inside a home, acutely.

So, I decided to start quantifying the lack of physical activity. I found the Realme fitness band on Flipkart during Phase 1 of the festive sale selling for Rs. 999 (discounted from Rs. 2,999). That seemed like a good entry-level purchase, so I got one for my son.

We haven’t bothered to get the kids a fitness band (while we have it ourselves) because their natural levels of activity in a normal school was more than sufficient. Us, adults, are far more sedentary in our everyday lives and we know it, so we get a tracker to keep a note of the data and do something about it. I assume this may be the case for a lot of parents.

When our son started wearing it, we found that his average steps per day, with school being on video, was about 3,000-4,000 only! But, the knowledge of the lack of physical activity was a good starting point – it at least gives us something to work towards, and ensure that the kids are doing more, consciously.

This is a simple, easy-to-execute promotional idea for the many health drink brands in India that target children – the likes of Bournvita, Boost, Himalaya Quista Kidz, Complan, Horlicks etc.

The main selling point of health drinks is ‘healthy kids’ (which has multiple dimensions, from physical health to mental activity). And their primary consumers are leading a highly sedentary life owing to lockdowns and their lives turning fully digital.

So, the brands’ first concern should be making their buyers/decision-makers (which is… parents; children are decision influencers) aware of how sedentary the children have become as a result of recent changes. This would position the health drink brand as being concerned about the target audiences within the context of the situation we’re all in, now.

Towards that, the health drink brands could offer either an entry-level fitness band or a pedometer/step-counter along with the purchase of their products. There are so many varieties of bands and pedometers available in India (at least online) – right from Rs. 200 to Rs. XYZ! There is a serious dearth of children-specific fitness bands in the market. I couldn’t get one appropriate for my daughter, in terms of strap/wrist size! That’s a seriously good opportunity for the health drink brands to expand into producing one or partner in producing a co-branded version.

To make it economically viable, they could try many options – free fitness bands with 2 large packs, or when buyers return 5 empty packs, or offer the band at a great discount where the buyers are asked to pay only a small extra sum – whichever way it can work out well, without losing money. I’m sure it works well when the brand buys the product in bulk.

If the health drink brands are concerned about the privacy of data, or the fact that the fitness bands need to connect to a smartphone app for the data recording, a basic pedometer/step-counter watch would work too. The idea here is to make parents gain tangible data on how bad the situation is.

Once parents are aware of the situation, with data, then the health drink brands could offer helpful ideas and tips towards improving the situation – in terms of content that is either shared on social media, or through an exclusive online community for parents and children, or through handouts added to the packs that parents buy subsequently. The engagement opportunities are limitless.

But parents would remember the brand a bit more as the one that made them aware of the gravity of the issue.

Also, a fitness band/pedometer also gamifies the act of being active. That’s anyway the case already with us, adults; but with children, the gamificiation adds a layer of motivation for them. My son already starts walking around the home during the class breaks, mainly to show us that he too has reached a threshold (he chose 8,000 steps as his threshold) by the end of the day.

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