Love it or hate it, Marmite was one of the first words uttered by both my children - in our household it is the toast topping of choice. We buy supermarket brand cornflakes, and although I still have a preference for the original my children do not seem to notice the difference. Sorry Kellogg’s. However, regarding choice of rice cereal only one will do - it has to be the bright blue packaging with the little people. Yes, pester power is all too potent, especially with two toddlers in the shopping trolley.
So, do we shape our children’s future brand choices or do they help to shape ours? The power of the toddler (0-3 years) is continuing to influence brand choices, and marketers hope that the beginning of the road to brand loyalty is starting to be developed. Marketers also know how strong pester power can be. According to most recent census statistics c.6% of the UK population is aged 0-4 years, thus providing a constant new and impressionable audience.
Take a weekly shopping trip with young children around the supermarket: Rice Krispies, Shreddies, Marmite, KitKat, Cadburys (chocolate), Coca Cola (‘coke’), Twiglets, Hula Hoops are all commented on. The car journey past McDonald’s triggers an exclamation of “chips!”. What do these particular brand logos have in common? They all use bright and simple colour schemes with bold graphics which are particularly appealing to this age group. Pre-schoolers who aren’t yet able to read will still pick up on shapes.
In a different retail environment we come across a POS DVD stand with the loveable Peppa Pig just at toddler height. Most toddlers are under the impression that they can get anything they want in Peppa Pig branding - and they are not far wrong. In 2010, Peppa Pig, the Entertainment One (eOne) brand, grossed over £200 million in UK merchandise sales. Licensed Peppa Pig products range from toys, to books, bed linen, clothing, and even food and drink. Branding targeted at this age group along with much pester power has helped homes across the UK (and now other markets) be dominated by the brand. No wonder eOne is proving so successful.
When a toddler gets to make their own choice at a vending machine, what do they go for? Applying the theory that it will be bright and bold we may assume they would go for Kit Kat or Twix? A L:ion bar is the actual choice with its ideal packaging for toddlers. The characters used in licensed merchandise is the reason to believe (RTB) for kids, even if the quality of the products may sometimes be questionable. The use of co-branding to increase appeal to children sees a popular partnership between breakfast cereal and film promotions (Weetabix launched a Toy Story 3 promotion last year, for example). Even daily newspapers have looked to encourage promotions with vouchers for kids’ toys or days out, using pester power to switch the parent purchase, rather than the child’s. Whether the new Kellogg’s brand of kids’ breakfast cereal to be launched in October (Kellogg’s Mini Max) will be a hit we shall have to wait and see. A Peppa Pig promotion on the side may nail it...
We shape our children’s future brand choices and they shape ours, and there are influences on both sides. Pester power is definitely a reality, and coupled with branding that is appealing to these young children, makes a very strong force. For the marketers out there the key message is this: keep it simple, keep it bright and co-branding opportunities can bring new audiences through brand switching.