‘Our estimate for India is about Rs 100 crore per centre’

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Viraj Singh, CMO, Kidzania, India

Viraj Singh, CMO, Kidzania, India

Marketing to kids seems to be evolving at a faster pace in India. And the latest addition to the growing list of kid’s marketers in the country is Mexico based edutainment brand KidZania.  KidZania is an edutainment indoor theme park scaled & built specially for kids.  The concept of the KidZania is to create a city like structure that caters to children in the age group of 4-14 years, educating and inspiring kids through role play. The concept of KidZania was developed by an entrepreneur Xavier Lopez way back in 1996 in Mexico. But what has created the buzz about the brand in India is Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan’s stake in the India venture of KidZania. In an interview with Pitch, Viraj Singh, CMO, KidZania India talks about Shahrukh Khan’s role in the venture, KidsZania’s target audience, pricing and marketing strategy and more. Excerpts…

How does roping in Shah Rukh Khan help the brand? Will you also use him as the face of the brand? What is his overall role in this?
Mr Shah Rukh Khan had visited KidZania Dubai with his children. He was delighted and enamoured by the edutainment format and the experience his children went through. With the belief that KidZania will fill the current void in the Indian kids’ entertainment space, he committed to bring this concept to India.  ImagiNation Edutainment India Pvt. Ltd. is the franchise holder for KidZania in India and is a partnership between KidZ INC PTE Ltd and Shah Rukh Khan.  KidZ INC is the partnership between Comcraft Group, Xander Group & Maxfield Management Ltd. Mr Khan’s role is currently as a strategic shareholder with a 26 per cent stake.

What is the strategic reason behind launching KidZania in India now?
Indians have now become global citizens and are looking at differentiated experiences. The upsurge in Indian households, with their increased purchasing power and enhanced awareness about global market, is an important factor that has been encouraging foreign brands to invest in the Indian market. When we look at the kids entertainment category, currently we have very few options available – mainly television, malls and video games. Parents and teachers are looking for new ways to motivate and inspire children. KidZania with its unique blend of education cum entertainment is poised to fill in this void. Cognisance also must be taken of the young Indian population, wherein 30 per cent of the Indians are age 14 and below.

What is your key target group in India? What is your pricing strategy for the product? Do you think there will be many Indian consumers inclined to spend this much amount for a day of kid’s entertainment?
Our primary target group is children aged 4 to 14 and parents aged 25-45yrs. We are still working on our pricing strategy and it would be comparable to other forms of entertainment available today.  The entry fee for a child would be between Rs 700 -900.  Unlike other entertainment format, here the Adults entry fee will be discounted. We will also have special rates for School Trips & groups. Globally, we work closely with NGO’s and provide underprivileged children access to the center for free.

The price is a one-time fee and includes all activities for 4-8hrs, depending on the day of the week. Unlike other entertainment options where there will be an additional cost of Food & Beverages; at KidZania a child learns how to make his or her own food/ beverage and can consume it for free.

The KidZaznia experience across the world has been that parents perceive it as ‘value for money’, and actually encourage their child to visit KidZania.  Interestingly when KidZania launched in Tokyo it as pre-booked online for six months in advance.  Even today, a parent needs to book 6-8 weeks in advance for entry on the weekends.

What brand tie-ups are you looking at? How can the brand partners leverage with this association?
KidZania, globally has partnered with brands to build realism and add authenticity in the kids experience. The establishments and activities in KidZania are designed in conjunction with the industry specialists. An airline partner knows best how to train pilots or run an airport counter. A bank knows best how to teach children about financial literacy.

We look at partnering brands which are aligned to the KidZania philosophy of developing the future of children. We have over 540 brand partnerships across all our centres. Some of our key partners globally are Unilever, Nestle, Cadbury Kraft, HSBC, J&J, P&G, Dettol, DHL, Mattel, HP, Sony, Honda, Emirates Airlines, Coca-Cola Hyundai, Dominos, Yakult and Pizza Hut.

How has the initial response of the brands been so far? Can you name some?
We have just started talking to our global partners in India and they are excited to know that the concept will soon be in India.

By when are you expecting the first facility to be opened in India and why have you chosen Mumbai as first destination? What are the other destinations you are exploring?
KidZania will launch its first centre in the commercial capital of India – Mumbai. We are expected be fully operational by early summer of 2013. We will open centres in Delhi and Bangalore within the next three years. To setup a centre we needed to get three things right – Space, Location and Mall Partner.  We were able to close all three in Mumbai first so we went ahead with the city.

What is the inspiration behind the concept? To what extent will you be localising it in India?
KidZania was founded in Mexico City in 1997 by a young entrepreneur, Xavier Lopez, who dreamed of creating a place where kids could have fun while enjoying real-life experiences. The first park was opened in 1999 and in its first year and every year since, KidZania Mexico has been a runaway success. KidZania has since opened in seven countries across the globe, and over the next twelve months, KidZania centres will open in Mumbai, Santiago, Istanbul, Cairo, Bangkok & Kuwait.

The format for KidZania is the same across all centres as it has been tried and tested across multiple countries and cultures.  In India we will keep in mind local culture and values. We will have some activities specific to Indian environment: The culinary school will have children learning how to cook Indian food, the dance studio will teach Indian forms of dance. Further to this we will create certain activities like the pottery studio, recycling , the Bollywood acting academy etc.

What kind of investments are you making in one facility?
We are still in the middle of construction, so will only have the final figure by end of the year. Globally the investment to set up a centre ranges between $15 and $30 million. Our estimate for India is about Rs 100 crore that is $19 million per centre.

What are the key challenges you see in the Indian market and how do you plan to overcome them?
KidZania is an indoor concept, and the challenge is to identify locations within a mall, which can accommodate the space, and  other requirements specific to KidZania. Meeting time lines, statutory approvals, traffic management, parking, are some of the other issues which need particular attention and planning.

How are you planning to market this concept India?
Our marketing strategy over the next 12 months will be to focus on building awareness of the concept with – Brand Partners, Families, Schools and NGO’s. The initial focus is to build relationships with potential industry partners. Once we have our partners tied in, we work with them to promote on specific cross-promotion tie-ups .The consumer centric marketing will follow at a later stage closer to the last quarter of 2012. We will be looking at an integrated marketing approach and use all media vehicles – TV, Print, Radio, OOH and Social Media. Since we will have TV, Radio and Print partners at the centre for our Media related activities, we will leverage our relationships with them while building our marketing strategy.  We also look at taking the KidZania concept out of the center to schools and neighboring towns and villages, and so there will be a focus on  BTL activations.  Social media will be a key to engaging with parents. We went live on Facebook on the 14th of June.


About the author / 

Abhinav Mohapatra

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