Kids these days don’t want to be kids: Nikhil Sharma

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Nikhil Sharma

Nikhil Sharma, Marketing Director, PVMI

From a wide array of kid-centric goodies to clutter-breaking creatives, Perfetti Van Melle has managed to maintain brand recall among a highly fickle minded kids’ segment.  Pitch speaks with Nikhil Sharma, Marketing Director, PVMI, to know his views on marketing to kids. Excerpts:

Can we have one strategy for kids in the age of 4-14, as a single homogenous group?
From a marketing standpoint, we don’t distinguish between a 4-9 and 9-14 separately. To give an example, we have a brand called Alpenliebe Lollypops for which we are trying to intentionally go to a higher age group, so cutting edge advertising for this product is being planned. Filly Folly and Marbles, on the other hand, are promo-centric brands so we go a little kiddier and do prime toys, tattoos.

Can kids’ attention be caught in print advertising or even outdoor and radio and how effectively?
Television is huge for kids. There is a high level of penetration in the digital space for kids but we are really at the tip of the iceberg there. We know that there are kids on Facebook but they are not really allowed to be there and we can’t design a campaign for them. For our line of business where most of the sales come from down the pop strata, even till now, digital penetration isn’t that great. We also do radio advertising that compliments the television plan. While we do strategic outdoor, there is nothing on the print front.

What part of your marketing budget is assigned to specifically target kids or used on kids’ channels?
Advertising to kids channels is cheaper than advertising to youth. We can’t share numbers but for instance, if there are 3-4 kids’ brands versus 10-12 other brands, around 15-20 per cent of the total budget will go to kids advertising.

Do kids have brand loyalty?
It is very difficult to have brand loyalty in this category. If you ask a kid which is the most often used brand, he may come up with the name Alpenliebe two times out of five. A kid will take a particular brand name out of sheer habit. That is not loyalty but it is essentially being on top of mind and most often used which is really a function of the huge equity you have built over the years.

How have kids’ consumer behaviour changed over the years?
Kids these days don’t want to be kids. They want to be older than what they actually are. They are fast learners. They want value added stuff now. There is so much exposure to media and there is this whole iPad, iPod generation, at least in the metros. You are talking to individuals with a mind of their own and need to treat them as equals. That is when they respect you.

In your communication strategy, would you target directly at kids or target parents?
For small confectionery, kids are the main target audience so we target them directly. We don’t do any surrogate advertising.

Do you have an ethics code for marketing to kids?
We are responsible marketers. We do not want to show anything that is detrimental to them like if it is a graphical representation, we will flash it. That really is the bedrock of all thematic communication that we do.

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