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  Targeting Tots: How brands connect with children   Targeting Tots: How brands connect with children  Vivian Manning-Schaffel  
         
 
Targeting Tots: How brands connect with children Kim Bremer, Earth’s Best’s Director of Infant Feeding, says parents and families should recognize the influence of characters like Elmo and the effect of Sesame Street’s brand on youngsters. “Kids know Elmo because they watch Sesame Street from the time they are one, and brand recognition is something they see, watch and recognize,” says Bremer. “We take the toddler audience very seriously.”

Earth’s Best, an organic baby and toddler food brand, is enjoying the fruits of a mutually beneficial, co-branded partnership with Sesame Workshop. And within this context, their products are breeding the next generation of brand loyalists. However—capitalistic cynicism aside—this targeted opportunity wasn’t inspired by profit potential, but from a shared mission to build “Healthy Habits for Life.”

“Brand recognition is always a benefit of entering into a partnership, but that wasn’t the driving factor of why we did it,” says Bremer. “We aren’t out there trying to make a profitable mass gain with products full of sugar. Sesame Workshop were seeking out leaders in the natural organic industry to partner with and they chose our brand because of our product profile and pronounced leadership in the marketplace.”

 
Greg Livingston, co-author of Marketing to the New Super Consumer Mom & Kid and chief development officer of Wonder Group, a branding agency that specializes in child-related brands points out that, to a toddler, having Elmo on your side certainly doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t necessarily result in any measurable or significant emotional level of brand loyalty. “Recognizing Sesame Street characters and branding elements are different from recognizing the brand,” says Livingston.

Perhaps that’s why marketers at Fisher-Price, an American toy-manufacturing brand, set their sights on kids who are slightly more mature. "We advertise to kids starting at age three. It's at this age when kids begin to have a voice about what they like, and that choice will be desired and appreciated by mom,” says Lisa Mancuso, senior vice president of marketing at Fisher-Price.

"We diligently consider branding elements that appeal to young children,” adds Mary Carson, director of advertising at Fisher-Price. “We want kids to ask mom for the product featured, so conveying the product or line name is important in our advertising.”

The Earth’s Best Tots line target spans from 18 months to 5 years of age, and Bremer says although mom is the gatekeeper, their packaging carefully considers the power of a toddler’s influence. “We went after primary colors, things that moms said were really eye-catching and fun, and obviously the characters are prominent because they are very recognizable,” she says.

 
Regardless of when they develop brand awareness, more and more very young children are permitted to voice their product preferences. “We call these purchase decisions, ‘off the leash,’” says Livingston. “It’s a purchasing decision where mom has approved the category, and is comfortable with her kids making the decision, like yogurt, cereals and so forth. Today’s mom is part of and really the leader of this dynamic that engages their kids in decision-making. They say it gives them the opportunity to teach their children to make decisions.”

And believe it or not, moms feel it’s less time consuming this way. “Today’s mom is highly educated but she’s extremely torn between her job and child rearing. She doesn’t have a whole lot of time or a whole lot of money,” says Dave Siegel, President of Wonder Group and co-author of aforementioned Marketing to the New Super Consumer Mom & Kid. “She’s going to keep the arguments down to the bare minimum, so she asks the child their opinions.”

So how can a brand position itself to get through to tykes? Remember that it’s mom who ultimately holds the purse strings and develop a strategy that considers both parent and child. “You have to understand what your product category is, where your product is going to deliver and so forth,” says Livingston. “Sometimes the packaging, and branding element calls for 75 percent kid and 25 percent mom. It all depends on the target child’s age and product category.”

“We don't take mom out of the equation for our kid-directed products,” concurs Mancuso. “Our approach for developing such product continues to be ‘kid cool, mom approved.’ All of our products have a developmental benefit for the child so mom can feel good about her purchase."

This ‘feel good’ approach is instrumental in staking out a foothold in the kiddie category. “When we first asked moms what Sesame Street means to them as a brand, they said things like, ‘I trust it.’ ‘I’m loyal to it.’ ‘I feel good about it.’ ‘I know what I can expect from it,’” says Bremer. “And those are all the things they associate with our brand on an emotional level.” Trust, loyalty and a feel-good decision. What parent can resist? Especially when their child is pointing at it from seat of a shopping cart.     

[27-Jul-2009]

 
  
  

Vivian Manning-Schaffel is a freelance writer who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

     
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Targeting Tots: How Brands Connect with Children
 
 Targeting kiddi shuld be primarily through gatekeeper,that is, mom.It is pretty tedious to entrench the brand in the mind space of the ones who adopt the brand not based on the reasons rather on five senses grounded pleasure concepts.This is where mom intervens.But for the marketers and sellers alike,this,I belive,is not so herculean task,as this quite common in B2B business where you have a few solid hurdles before you get encounter the decision maker/s who finally put the approving seals.
Anyway,article is very good. 
Mohd. Rizwan Alam, Asst. Professor, Preston University - July 27, 2009
 
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