Our #Kidtech podcast provides insight into the ever-changing kids digital landscape. SuperAwesome CEO Dylan Collins recently spoke with Chizcomm Founder and CEO Harold Chizick, who advises many leading US toy companies about marketing and communications. Together, they explored how companies that have predominantly engaged with children through linear television can adapt to new digital markets.
Plan in pencil, not in pen
The past year has made it clear that brands must embody an agile mindset. Whether it be global change or rapidly developing social platforms, “content consumption has changed a lot in the last 12 months,” said Chizick. “When we don’t write things in pencil, it’s hard to erase. If you don’t think of it from that standpoint, you can’t be prepared to be opportunistic and make changes.”
Kids are typically among the earliest adopters of new technology and social networks, and their constantly changing interests can create sudden, powerful trends. Businesses must remain flexible enough to pivot with these fluctuations. When TikTok achieved massive growth in late 2018, brands that couldn’t alter their plans lost the competitive advantage of establishing market share early in the product’s lifecycle.
But looking ahead doesn’t only mean guesswork. Past events and industry trends often inform future developments and reactions, even during unprecedented times. “History is a good indicator of what the future will bring,” said Chizick, referring to the events of September 11th. “The toy industry that fourth quarter had a great year, and that’s because families were at home. They got back to traditional, social play.”
Chizick expects a similar bounceback in the coming months. “Most people think that once COVID is in the rear view, toys are going to take a step back. I think they’re going to continue the momentum for another 24 months of growth.”
Diversify your channels
Chizick advocates for brands to adopt a well-rounded, multichannel campaign. “The biggest flaw in marketing strategies…is that there’s a belief that ‘I have a certain budget and I can only do one thing.'”
But which channels should brands pursue? Allocating resources across the proper blend of networks requires a tactical approach, and all investment plans must follow the same core principle: diversification. Fully embracing one platform and ignoring other options can handicap campaigns when their individual popularity and safety measures are ever-changing. “If you’re only going to do one thing,” said Chizick, “you don’t have a well-rounded campaign.”
Based on research from our Essential Kids Marketing Guide for Toy Companies, kids spend more time than ever on digital platforms, and their trust has shifted with that attention. Linear television is no longer kids’ preferred method to learn about new products – among children aged 7-9, it’s not even half as effective as YouTube, and it also ranks below Facebook. Familiarity and repetition are essential to earning kids’ trust, and they can’t grow familiar enough with your brand if it fails to stay in sight on their favorite channels.
Create immersive experiences
The concept of a primary offering is fading in lieu of an omnichannel approach. Successful brands will create immersive experiences that customers can interact with across all of their preferred channels.
“When you’re thinking about your brand, you have to be thinking about how you would live in gaming, or soft goods, or in apparel,” said Chizick. “Not just from a licensing and revenue standpoint, but there is so much noise out there that to stand out, you really have to figure out how you are going to apply your brands and your brand growth over multiple channels.”
This is a proven practice – brands such as Pokémon expanded its product into an entire lifestyle. The Pokémon Company built a global entertainment powerhouse by understanding that television programs and clothing apparel weren’t just complementary items to its video game franchise, but equally important touchpoints integral to establishing the brand.
Brands must translate this top-down view to a digital landscape. Social networks and the ease of global communication have created countless opportunities for businesses to build community and familiarity with their audience. Whether through a gaming strategy or a strong owned social community, brands that create opportunities for kids and Young Teens to interact beyond the physical product will remain top of mind.
“How am I going to live so that my product and brand extend beyond just one aisle in the retail chain?” says Chizick. “The building of brands requires that evolutionary thinking.”