Like most dads, I give into badgering. When my daughter is “bugging out” over “Minnie Mouse”, Ariel or the latest game, I often give in and want to calm the delirium. Last week I visited Disney with my daughter, and realized the similarities to Vegas are uncanny: you can’t get out of a ride without passing merchandise; temptation is everywhere and it’s hard to say no. It’s the same as Vegas, only the temptations are different.
With Toy Fair approaching in NYC next week, I’ve been thinking about the “sucker-cessful” children’s brands that can motivate any child to “bug out” and “sucker” a parent into purchasing. As a marketer by trade, I think the strategy is simple – yet brilliant and timeless.
Kids brands must touch different cords to sell products – Kids and parents. The kids, while not buying the product directly, are the sweet innocent puppy-dog faced ones badgering mom, dad and grandma to buy. Of course for parents, send messages we are ok with (For example for me, an over-protective, traditional father, sexuality for me instantly turns me off.)
Kids have strong purchasing power and don’t forget, they’re the adult consumers of the future. If you want to have staying power as a kids brand, you have to appeal to the child and the future adult. For example, now as an adult consumer my perception of “Mickey” is a pestering varmint that gets me to spend money often. Yet as a father, I consider Mickey a loveable character that triggers the imagination because of Mickey’s influence in my own childhood. So as Mickey and Minnie became items in my household, I concur and agree because I have pleasant memories.
Here are just a few strategies marketers can employ to get kids to “bug out” over their brand:
*Create a disruptive movement:* Silly bandz is a perfect example. A very simple product that created a movement by being everywhere at once. Their marketing scheme was a collaboration of word-of-mouth buzz, community-level promotion and aggressive media coverage right out of the gate. You couldn’t move without hearing about it.
*Building allegiance a.k.a. the “Mickey factor”:* Marketers plant the seeds of brand recognition in very young children, in the hopes that the seeds will grow into lifetime relationships. I like to call it the “Mickey” factor. According to the Center for a New American Dream, babies as young as six months of age can form mental images of corporate logos and mascots. Brand loyalties can be established as early as age two, and by the time children head off to school most can recognize hundreds of images including logos and the products themselves.
*Engaging through Social Media:* The challenge for marketers is to cut through the intense clutter. Companies are engaging consumers directly through social media, a platform that targets a very activated and interested consumer. Social media allows marketers to monitor conversations, trends and behavior at real-time speed and react to it. Social media is “the” direction of the year for marketers and the best way to insert the brand and activate consumers en masse at rapid speed.
*Grassroots & Buzz Marketing:* The tried-and-true “word of mouth” method. The idea is to find influencers in a community and have them use or wear your product in order to create a buzz around it. Buzz, or “street marketing,” can help a company to successfully connect with the savvy and elusive teen market by using trendsetters to give their products “cool” status.