Insight Strategy Group Offers Some Free Research to Kids Marketers
By John Consoli -- Broadcasting & Cable, 7/12/2012 2:40:08 PM
Each Muse interview touches on different areas or aspects of the child's life, and the group mixes things up in terms of age and gender from month to month. The interview is sent out as a company email blast, appears on the company website as a blog and was recently picked up as a monthly column by Kidscreen magazine.
The Muse of the Month feature can be helpful to media buyers, planners and content producers to help them better understand the kids audience.
"The Muse of the Month has been effective because it's tough for grownups to remember their own childhoods, and even harder to fully understand the lives of today's kids, who are growing up in a different world than we experienced," says Sarah Chumsky, VP of Insight Kids. "Many people get trend reports and basic information on what kids supposedly like today, but to create media that doesn't feel cookie-cutter, reflects kids' lives and speaks to their needs, you need to understand the details and all the many exceptions to the norms."
In addition to offering this snippet of free research each month, Insight Kids does proprietary research for an assortment of clients. They include: Nickelodeon, Hasbro, Kellogg's, Crayola, Chorion, Classic Media, Sprout, CBeebies (BBC), National Geographic, Scholastic, Corus Entertainment, Converse, The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, Stride Rite, Seventh Generation, AOL, Addicting Games, American Museum of Natural History, MTV, DreamWorks and Paramount.
Prior to joining Insight in 2005, Chumsky was a kids' media consultant. She has also served as a head writer and producer at Oxygen Media, a producer at Nickelodeon/Blue's Clues and a producer at Noggin.
Chumsky spent some time discussing the Muse program and offering some insight into learning about kids for marketing and content purposes.
What is the Muse of the Month and how did it come about?
Muse of the Month is a way for us to educate people in the children's product industry about different aspects of kids' lives and about child development. We began doing it because we had lots of clients who wanted to be creative and who were seeking more information to get a better feel of who the kids' audience is. To market a product successfully to children, you need to take what they think and how they live into consideration. It began as a monthly email blast to current and potential clients. We used the Kidscreen email list to send out the interviews and we posted entries on our own Web blog. Kidscreen liked it and now they are using it as a monthly column in their magazine.
How does it work?
We choose one child per month that we find through personal connections of our staff and just talk with them. We don't go in with any predetermined preconceptions about the child or age group. We start off with a few general questions to the the conversation started and to get the flow going, then simply have discussions with the children about their lives, their interests and whatever comes up. Then we pick out things that are interesting and would be helpful to marketers and highlight them. In one instance, we interviewed a child who just moved to a new city and we talked about how the child adjusted to the new environment and new situation. We've talked to kids about technology and what interests them. We've found that preschoolers are already interacting with tablets. The articles we write always end with some insight into how the children's thoughts can be applicable to the marketing of various products.
And there's no charge for the Muse research?
No. We are putting the information on our blog and emailing it out for free. This information is not brand specific. Most of the work we do for our clients is to gather information that gives them insight into children's relationships with their specific brands and how the kids use those brands. But the information we put out there from our Muse of the Month interviews can also offer valuable insight and it also creates goodwill for our company and gives us some additional exposure. All of the members of our Insight Kids team have a passion for making companies make better products and offer better services for kids. This type of research can only help. Marketers can learn about what kids care about, what they do with their time and how they relate to products and technology, and we hope that marketers stop stereotyping kids in particular age groups and realize that all kids the same age are different.
What other types of research does Insight do?
Insight does about half its research about kids and the other half for a more general audience, or non-kids. For the kids practice, clients come to us to help with branding and marketing of their products and have us seek answers to questions like, "What should our brand stand for? How can a brand differentiate itself from its competitors?" We help companies track and build their brands and help them to achieve their marketing goals using our research. We also help develop products and content. If someone has an idea for a new product line, we would test it with the children who are the target audience to get their impressions. It can even be a TV show idea or a completed pilot.
Our staff [excels in] drawing information out of kids in conversation. We have even gotten insight from two-year-olds who are not yet speaking. But we work with kids from that age all the way up into the teens.
Asking multiple choice or yes/no questions is relatively easy, but how are you able to put together research based on general conversations with kids?
We not only phrase the questions so that they can understand them, but we are also trained to understand their answers and what they mean. We know what typical responses for each age group would be and can set other thoughts from those apart.
How has the evolution of media platforms impacted what you do in the kids' research area?
Kids today have so many entry points to be introduced to products and brands. It's not just through media platforms. Kids may be too young to see or understand a particular movie, but they might not be too young to be introduced to that movie or those characters through action figure toys. One of our Muses was a five-year-old boy who was a Star Wars fanatic. He was too young for the Star Wars movies but got interested in the brand through action figures that other kids brought to school. Then he began to ask for Star Wars Wii games and Lego sets. So it's not only media that can open doors for marketers.
How are marketers handling all the new platforms and ways to reach kids?
Cross-platform opportunities are seen by many marketers as both exciting and intimidating. Most do not have expertise in all of the media platforms available today. They need to find the best ways to reach kids with their specific brands and they need to prioritize the media they use. Again, not all seven-year-olds can be reached the same way.
It seems that more parents today are watching programming with their young kids. Does that change how a marketer advertises a product?
I wouldn't make the assumption that more parents are watching TV with their preschool kids today than in past years. The quality of kids programming today is very good and we've found that parents in the home in many cases are willing to leave their young children in front the TV to watch a good show while they do something else in the home if the program is of high quality. As kids age, up beyond preschool is where parents seem to be watching more programming with their kids.
Does a marketer benefit by gearing a commercial to a younger child?
On average, kids have more influence on a parent and what a parent will buy for them as they get older. Once a child begins to get their own money through an allowance or work they can have more of a say. But the parent still always needs to be in the equation. Marketers should tread lightly when advertising within games kids are playing, as overt pitches to add a paid upgrade may not sit well with parents.
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