No longer a child’s play

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Rahool Talukdar, National Creative Director, Focus Circle

Rahool Talukdar, National Creative Director, Focus Circle

Ever wondered why taglines like “My Daddy Strongest”, “I am a Complan Boy” “I love you Rasna”, and “Daag Ache Hain” became etched in one’s minds for eternity and today’s children being associated as brand icons, with the likes of Suri Cruise and Aaradhya Bachchan hitting the fashion circuit with sudden change in the spotlight towards the kids. Be it in the form of protagonists or as influencers, kids have always captured the spotlight when it comes to the ad campaigns.

Over the years, with the growth in national and international brands investing in products and services specifically designed for kids, marketers have started identifying them in a completely new light. According to a recent report, India is home to around 304.8 million children in the age bracket of 0-12 years, creating a huge potential for various product and services to rapidly expand from traditional baby food, powders, books and toys to baby perfumes, crockery, furniture, and more recently, a complete virtual playground like Worldoo.com, for marketers to start evolving the mediums to attract this segment. Innovation has been a core in this sector, giving marketers a potential to tap 30 per cent of the market share or 6 million babies, which is a huge in terms of scope and magnitude. Case in point – one would be amazed to know that despite the worldwide economic crisis, sales soared at Rs 576.2 billion in 2011, owing to a strong demand for children’s apparel, footwear and toys.

The sheer size of the market reveals how strategically important this market is for advertisers and marketers. Many international brands such as UCB, Mothercare, Guess, JFK, Zara and Burberry, as well as domestic ones such as Lilliput, Littles, Ruff and Giny & Jony have been major contributors. Large corporates have also understood the scope and have ventured into this sector, such as Mahindra Group with their retail store Mom & Me and Reliance bringing UK toy brand Hamley’s to India. Having realised the long-term implications, marketers have devised influencing campaigns specifically aimed at and designed for attracting the young ones.

To effectively market to children, advertisers need to know what clicks with the kids, which has been a challenge for creative agencies purely because of the unavailability of data in terms of their needs, preferences, demands and the direct influencers to the kids have to be kept in mind. Kids today have evolved and are more likely to take informed decisions, still parents’ consent and comfort with the product/ service is integral. With the help of well-paid researchers and psychologists, advertisers now have access to in-depth knowledge about children’s developmental, emotional and social needs at different ages. For instance, recently to devise a complete marketing campaign for Worldoo, a children’s online platform, it was vital for us to have in-depth understanding of the target audience. Specifically, a detailed IMRB research was conducted to understand even the minor nuances of children. This included identifying the concerns of parents towards a virtual platform, recognising the channels through which kids preferred to obtain information to an extent of recognising cultures and sub-cultures to which kids relate to.

Like in the late 1990’s, advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi hired cultural anthropologists to study children with digital technology at home in order to figure out how best to engage them with brands and products. Using research that analysed children’s behaviour, fantasy lives, artwork, even their dreams, creative agencies are trying to craft sophisticated marketing strategies to reach the kids.

One of the simplest techniques adopted by agencies is to create situations that kids can associate with or relate to, like the most popular setting being a school environment, a child handing over a report card, enjoying with family or dealing with peer pressure. Images that are floral, happy and colourful are known to create a deep impact on the child’s brain. The child then begins to visualise herself in the frame and wants to recreate the same setting at home. We base our content on natural feelings of a child, for instance, children are curious, competitive, desire to travel in comfortable cars and want to be popular. These elements make such ads talking points among children.

Brand loyalties can be established as early as age two, and by the time children head off to school, most can recognise hundreds of brand logos. While fast food, toy and clothing companies have been cultivating brand recognition in children for years, adult-oriented businesses such as banks and automakers are now getting in on the act. Marketers have been successfully creating brand recognition in very young children with the hope of making lifetime relationships with the product.

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