Marketing to Children in the Information Age
Karan Bhatia, Sharika Munshi
Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode
Marketing to children in the information age is an exciting as well as challenging task. Both children and their parents are becoming increasingly tech savvy which is reflected in the fact that Internet and TV are now frequently accessed media. However, their needs have remained largely unchanged. As a result, children's brands need to re-work their marketing strategies taking into account their company strategy, market segmentation, brand positioning and the needs of their target audience. In this article we look at the strategies adopted by two successful companies, Funskool India Ltd. and ITC Ltd. in marketing to both children and their parents in the information age.
FUNSKOOL INDIA LTD.
Funskool India Ltd., a joint venture between two leaders in their own field – MRF, the No.1 Tyre Company in India and Hasbro Inc, the No.1 Toy Company in the world, started its commercial operations in the year 1988 and has state of the art manufacturing facilities at Goa . Funskool has one of the largest ranges of toys in India . Their well known toys are GI Joe, Batman, Action Man, Playdoh, Monopoly and Scotland Yard.
Company Strategy: The Company's strategy is to increase its presence in the organized Indian toy market by influencing parents to spend on toys for their children.
Market Segmentation: Funskool segments the market according to children's demographics. Some examples of target segments (for different toys) are: kids 2-11 yrs, boys 2-11 yrs and girls 6-11 yrs. Urban children are the users and influencers but the parents take the ultimate buying decision.
Brand Positioning: Funskool has positioned itself as brand of quality toys that contributes to the mental development of growing children. It has positioned itself as the pioneer of quality and safe toys in the Indian market. It differentiates itself from competitors on grounds of the highest quality standards. It is uniquely associated with the cartoons of Cartoon Network and Disney.
The Position of Funskool in the Needs Hierarchy:
- Affiliation Need: Children who play with Funskool toys are guided by the need for affiliation. They desire friendship, acceptance and belonging.
- Achievement Need: Games entail winning and losing. Children have a strong need for achievement. This need is fulfilled when they win a game. In some other games, children imagine that they have achieved extraordinary feats. For example, the superhuman achievements of GI Joe or Batman become a part of the child's extended identity.
- Security and Safety Need: Parents need to feel secure that the toys for their children are safe.
- Need to Advance their Child's Development: Parents feel that the toy is worth buying if they feel that the mental development of the child is aided through playing with the toy.
Different Communication Strategies for Adults and Children:
Children: Communication Message: Funskool provides fun and adventure
Funskool has become the exclusive manufacturer for Cartoon Network merchandise. Funskool already distributes popular brands that are featured on Cartoon Network like Bob the Builder, Thomas and Friends, Batman, Superman, Tom and Jerry, and Scooby Doo. This strategy is extremely effective since:
Disney movies and TV programmes hold interest for the child and drive the toy sale, especially if the toys are straight out of the programme or out of a Walt Disney movie.
Cartoon Network is the favorite channel of the targeted market segment and hence advertising is most effective in terms of reach.
Adults: Communication Message: Funskool is safe fun and develops children's mental skills
The adults whom Funskool communicates to are parents. Children are the users of the brand, but the ultimate buying decision is taken by the parent. Safety of the toys is brought forth in all campaigns. Funskool communicates that games like the Math-Magician, Mind Game, Strategy Game, and Skill Game add up to excellent play value with an adequate amount of educational value. The names and advertising communicate that the games will increase the Intelligence Quotient of the child. Online kids stores on websites such as www.shopping.sify.com allow adults to add Funskool products to their shopping carts. On sites such as www.indiawithlove.com, the Funskool products are classified by age groups ranging from 0-12 years and are delivered across a wide range of locations.
The Candyman brand was launched by ITC Ltd. in 2003 as a hard-boiled sugar candy in the confectionary segment of its Foods business. Candyman Butterscotch Licks, Orange Licks, Éclairs, Wild Banana, Mango Delite, Orange Josh and Pineapple Punch are available across India .
Company Strategy: Since confectionary is an impulse purchase, and is largely bought out of convenience stores, ITC aims to leverage its strength in distribution to sell confectionery.
Market Segmentation : ITC has segmented the market for candies as adult (mainly youth) and children (under 12 years). ITC's confectionery portfolio has a set of two brands - Mint-O, directed at the youth, and Candyman, which is focused towards children under 12. Each brand has different brand values relevant to their respective target groups. Rural children are seen as an important market.
Brand Positioning : Candyman is positioned on the platform of instant adventure and excitement, hence the statement : "Kuch Bhi Karega for Candyman." This positioning is strengthened by:
Pricing: Price points are 25p, 50p and Re. 1. Therefore, older children (6-12) can buy Candyman themselves with their pocket money.
Availability: Candyman is readily available to children in the nearest convenience outlet.
The Position of Candyman in the Needs Hierarchy:
- Physiological Need: Candy is consumed by children because they love the taste. They do not satisfy the physiological need of satisfying hunger the same way as food does, but they do satisfy the craving to have something sweet.
- Achievement Need: The temporary energy and upliftment which candy provides leads children to believe that they can perform exciting and adventurous feats.
Adults (as buyers for their children):
- Need to Indulge: Parents/Relatives buy candy for children as an indulgence, to pamper them. Usually they discourage the excessive consumption of candy.
Adults (as consumers):
- Physiological need: This is the same for children and adults.
- Self esteem need: Adult consumers of candy, especially the youth, are driven by self esteem needs to display a particular attitude (eg. Cool) and gain acceptance in their peer group.
Different Communication Strategies for Adults and Children:
Children: Communication Message: Candyman provides adventure and excitement
TV and Internet are the preferred media. Internet is effective due to the increasing number of tech-savvy children. The online club ( mycandymanclub.com ) does not mention candies on the website. Instead, it shows colorful and dynamic (moving) images of the adventure sport Para-Motoring. It invites children to become members and experience more excitement.
Adults: Communication Message: Mint-O is “Unusually Cool”
This is a statement of attitude which is important to the youth. The promotions aim at portraying the cool image. Mint-O had a tie up to promote the James Bond movie, Die Another Day and the Bollywood movie Kuch Na Kaho. TV, Radio, Press, Internet, SMS, and direct consumer as well as retailer contact, have been used to give a 360-degree mix to the promotion campaign.
Education: B.E. (Computers), NSIT Delhi University Majors: Marketing, Finance
A consistent topper, Karan ranks among the top ten percent of the batch at IIMK. His engineering project was acclaimed in Stockholm at the IEEE RT Conference, 2005. During his summer internship at ICICI OneSource, the company implemented Karan's recommendations following a rigorous profitability, performance and resource allocation analysis of the company's biggest account. At IIMK, he is a coordinator of the Media Cell.
Education: B.Sc. (Economics), Presidency College Calcutta Majors: Marketing, Finance
A national topper in commerce, Sharika holds a first class in Economics. During her summer internship with GE Money she constructed distribution channels in Mumbai to source personal loans. She finalized deals which immediately led to a 50% increase in sales value. At IIMK, she is a coordinator of the management seminar “Horizons”.