A lot has changed in the way kids behave over the last many years but one thing that has remained constant is the urge to behave older than their age. We all saw what wonders Flipkart’s creative idea of children-adults did and the cuteness took everyone by awe. It’s because we have often seen children around us, trying to fit in the elders’ shoes, how a younger sibling always wants to play or watch what the elder sibling is consuming; it’s just aspirational for them.
KidZania, a theme park for kids, gives the little ones a platform to behave as adults – to be doctors, chefs, bakers, bankers and have a lot of fun spending the money that they earn, roleplaying these jobs. Brands have identified this opportunity and tied up with KidZania to really catch them young while interacting with the children. KidZania opened its first outlet in Mumbai in 2013 and recently in Delhi. Now it is set to start operations at another one in Bangalore. Big Bazaar, Yes Bank, Mondelez India, Carnival Cinemas, Frooti, Camlin Kokuyo, L&T Mutual Fund, MOD, Nerolac, Nutella, Hardy's, Coca-Cola, Club Mahindra, Chocos, Aquaguard, Parle Agro, Pepperfry.com, Radio City, Parachute, Star India and Toonz Animation among others have tied up with KidZania.
The brands have realised that it is important to look beyond the screens and hence are looking at options beyond traditional media like television to get their messages across. With experiential marketing becoming the new fad, brands are looking to offer the same experiences to their little consumers as well.
Before we begin to decode why brands are looking at other platforms to reach out to kids, it is imperative to understand why they want to reach out to kids on any medium.
“I think brands want to reach to kids for two reasons – one is that they are the (future) consumers of the product/ services that they provide; another reason is that children today are an integral part and can influence the decision-making of an adult. There was a time when this influence was termed ‘pester power’ but I truly believe that pester power has now changed to knowledge power,” said Viraj Jit Singh, CMO, KidZania.
He further added, “The present generation of children has so much awareness about what is going on around them and parents too respect it as they believe that children have knowledge.”
Singh also believes that the one big reason brands are going beyond screen today is clutter.
“There is so much happening, especially on traditional media like television. There are so many channels to watch, so many brands and advertisers on screen that a 30-second spot probably isn’t as effective as it used to be. Therefore, experiential marketing has become one of the big platforms to market to children. Edutainment platforms are another big thing because they bring education and entertainment together. That allows parents to be receptive to brands engaging with children, since the children are in their learning processes too. Brands also take to merchandising and associating with children’s characters to able to leverage their products.”
Giving example of KidZania, Singh explains that since in KidZania the engagement of brands with kids is for a much longer period of time as opposed to a 30 seconder, the engagement is far deeper and therefore the take-away and the impact is far greater.
“We are a sustainable engagement platform for brands. We engage children through real-life role play which allows them to manage their world better when they step out. We do that by representing industries and the services of the real world in a scaled down style so that children can role play the profession of each industry and service. To scale that down and create realism, we allow brands to partner with us. The reason for that is simple, kids today are smart enough to understand that if they role play something that is not present in the real world then they will not take that activity or experience seriously,” explained Singh.
But is the recall value that a brand gets from an experiential marketing exercise bigger than that one can hope to achieve through traditional methods?
“With television it depends on the reach and the frequency and the quality of the spot but I believe that experiential marketing is the way forward. For example, if Big Bazar is a partner and if a child works as a cashier at Big Bazar, the next time the parents decide to go shopping the fact that the child represented the brand and understood what the brand stood for will definitely have a deeper impact,” said Singh.
Experiential marketing might be having a much better impact when it comes to recall value but do they make sense from an economic sense?
“Most brands that participate in KidZania are looking at long-term objectives. So, it is not about return on investment. It is not about ‘so the child has walked in, are they going to walk out and go buy my products and services?’ There are much larger objectives that marketing has. Today, we have a driving school by Maruti and they are very clear that they are here to be responsible and teach children about road safety. So brands have a long-term vision,” said Singh.