Target Tween - Kid Marketing Forum turns the spotlight on children

The idea‘s just taking off. After the youth TG which had the whole hearted attention of marketers in recent years, the spotlight is now trained on the tweens.

The Nickelodeon Brand Equity Kid Marketing Forum on Tuesday in Mumbai, in its own way, gave a stamp of approval to the manouvering of pester power that is sweeping countries across the globel, including India. Film professionals, admen, marketers and researchers converged at the Oberoi post lunch, to explore, expound on and in effect, exploit the phenomenon that has much of the urban world in its thrall.

That kids today are a different species from what they were a generation ago was driven home by Nickelodeon India MD Alex Kuruvilla in his opening address itself, when he admitted that "four-year-olds are from a different planet, and 14-year-olds today are from a different universe altogether." A statement that found affirmation later in Leo Burnett India CEO Arvind Sharma‘s admission that the decade long popular Complan TV campaign had finally given way to another which doesn‘t quite view children in the same way it did earlier.

Jamie Lord outlines the details of the latest Millward Brown research

Marketing to kids is no disorganised affair either. Millward Brown, IMRB, Nickelodeon UK and even music companies like Jive Records were all there with research and statistics to back up their claims about kids‘ preferences and mindsets. Millward Brown marketing and business development director Jamie Lord was candid enough to admit that "honesty and simplicity were essential while marketing to tweens (that elusive breed between children and teenagers, pegged between 8-14 years)". He was also honest to acknowledge that "to develop tomorrow‘s markets, we have to understand kids today." Lord was ready with his statistics. The latest BRANDchild study, which has probed the minds of urban tweens from 35 markets in the last five years, bears out his claims. Pester power is definitely on the rise, brand loyalty starts by 11 years of age and bonding with a brand will begin once a brand achieves presence, relevance, performs and offers advantage over other brands, he pointed out.

Lord and Wable discuss the potential of the Indian tween market

It‘s a fickle market out there, though. IMRB senior vice president Neerja Wable cautioned that kids are 40 per cent less loyal than adults and prone to changing their relationship with a brand over a span of two years (tattoos and tazos with chips and candy packets are what drives this age group). The Millward Brown study has not restricted itself to kids‘ brand preferences but has tried to delve into the child psyche. Values like ‘being safe‘, ‘adhering to customs and traditions‘ and ‘being better than others‘ drive children‘s attitudes differently in different countries, an observation that can be translated accordingly while marketing certain products.

"Whether it‘s Bollywood or cricket mania, but a whopping 90 per cent of Indian children aspire to be famous and 80 per cent of them look forward to growing up," noted Wable. Good news for celebrity endorsements, that.

The India numbers of kids influencing the family‘s decision making about major purchases may be small today, but it is growing. A vast number watch TV, prefer it to reading, and 71 per cent of kids in India say they influence their parent‘s decision when buying a car. Wable however insisted that the phenonmenon was not urban but extended to the interiors of the country as well, although the study covered only Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai. "The news that bal panchayats (children‘s committees) are being set up in villages, and the fact that kids are often the only literate members of a family in villages adds up to the fact that pester power is growing everywhere," she offered.

Lord was more pro-active. "Go beyond TV? maybe even try product placements, tweens love it," he said. A sentiment shared by Columbia Tristar Films of India managing director Uday Singh who outlined the secret behind the humungous success of Spiderman, the movie, in India. The key, said Singh, were the local connects employed to woo the vernacular viewer. Branded theatres, contests, merchandise, in your face, aggressive campaigns that wooed the SEC C and D viewers and strategic media tie-ups ensured that the movie would open well in the country, Singh said. Spiderman had an unusually high 250 prints in India, in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, helping it rake in Rs 53 million the first weekend itself, and a total of Rs 280 million at the turnstiles. "Spiderman became a huge mother brand, with tremendous marketing possibilities," Singh said, pointing out the crucial connect factor for kids. "For a non changeable foreign product, localisation is the mantra in India," he pointed out.

Nicky Parkinson talks about the Nick success story in the UK

Nickelodeon UK MD Nicky Parkinson unfolded the success story of the network in Britain. Brand loyalty, according to Parkinson, begins at age two, an aspect the network has successfully worked upon to create innovate campaigns for companies like Kraft and Barbie. The minute long interstitials, weave the product into an interesting storyline, appealing to kids and involving them with an interactive element thrown in.

Prahlad Kakkar talks about how kids should be treated, in ads and life...

Adman Prahlad Kakkar who followed, was more disposed towards giving kids ‘a sense of destiny and responsibility‘ rather than cloistering them within an adult‘s mindset. "You taint kids by making them conform," he pointed out. With a series of clips of ads made by his company, Genesis Films, Kakkar dwelt on the informal handling of children in the ads, which helps the commercial to seem natural. A child model mouthing dialogue scripted by an adult only seems irritating, he pointed out.

Arvind Sharma tracks the changing Indian kid over the decades...

Leo Burnett India CEO Arvind Sharma likened the evolution of a brand to a pizza with constantly changing toppings. Citing the example of Barbie, Sharma said the brand had survived over half a century by bringing in accessories, changing the Barbie look and adding add-ons, while maintaining the essential quality of the product. While kids‘ attention span is pegged at around 10 seconds, the logic kids employ is often completely different from that of adults, Sharma pointed out. He presented a series of kids‘ opinions on a variety of subjects to show that kids are often highly opinionated, rarely hesitant.

Julia Lipari details her own experiences with kids‘ promotions...

Jive Records senior VP Julia Lipari concluded the day‘s talks with a peppy speech on the convergence of the worlds of entertainment and brands. Citing a study done by the Geppetto Group in the US, Lipari said that 56 per cent of kids enjoy seeing kids their age in commercials. Musicians follow a close second with 42 per cent. TV, books and movies follow. Citing case studies of companies who had worked with Jive Records for promotions, Lipari said that any successful kids‘ promotion would need a good product, effective packaging, integrated promotions, a free component of pricing and an eye on parents, who are still the gatekeepers of information to children.

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