Turner Home Entertainment is putting a special emphasis on children as part of an overall marketing tune-up in its domestic licensing merchandising division.
The commitment to get closer to kids acknowledges their growing power and influence in the consumer marketplace, says Anne Adriance, senior vice president and general manager of domestic licensing and merchandising.
‘Probably for the first time in the consumer business, kids are now being recognized as a truly gigantic part of the consumer purchasing block. They affect huge amounts of consumer purchases, including big-ticket items as large as cars and technology, in obvious and more subtle ways,’ says Adriance, who joined Turner last September after more than 16 years in the advertising agency business.
Manufacturers are recognizing the importance of children both in the way they develop their products today, as well as in the kind of programming they buy as advertisers and in what they say in their advertising, says Adriance. ‘We [at Turner] are keenly aware of kids as powerful consumers, and we want to really address the opportunities and address their needs. We want to give them the kinds of products that they really want,’ says Adriance, adding: ‘The reality now is that the dynamics of consumer purchases have changed. Adults and parents have extremely busy lives. They have given more purchase decision-making to their children.’
Adriance, who helped define Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising’s kids practice under a division called The Saatchi & Saatchi Kid Connection, says the baby boomers who are now parents have been influential in shaping the new child consumer.
Boomers demanded more power in all their relationships. They value power and equality, and now they are giving it to their children. That, combined with more financial resources than previous generations of children, make kids today a force to be pursued and respected, says Adriance.
‘They have more money in their pockets and fewer rules about how to spend it.
‘The next important trend will see kids very directly influencing the way technology heads,’ says Adriance, pointing out that children are easy and early adapters to technology, which is increasing its value as an educational tool and therefore making its way into more homes.
‘A lot of factors have converged to make kids an attractive target today. But, they are savvy and not particularly loyal. You must give them a reason to be loyal. They will quickly turn off if you don’t have a good story or a good product.’
Yet for all of that, there is also an innocence about children that marketers should not forget.
‘Kids are more sophisticated than they ever were in terms of their awareness of the world around them,’ says Adriance. ‘And yet they’re still kids. You must therefore be careful to strike a balance that fits between their sophistication and the emotional and physical realities of childhood.
‘You need to understand that balance and be able to address kids in a way that is respectful of them. Kids are not the same as adult consumers. They have needs and wants that must be understood in a thorough and legitimate way.’
Adriance says her priorities are to focus on more research with child consumers, combined with more analysis of that research as well as making a concerted effort at developing ongoing strategic relationships with such manufacturers of kids products as packaged goods, fast food and toy companies.
As part of that strategy, earlier this year, Turner moved Howard Jacobs from the company’s kids publishing division to a new role with the responsibility of building the Cartoon Network as a brand.
This month, Philip Clark joins as director of marketing with a focus on apparel and home furnishings. His background is in licensing and entertainment. Clark will also help in monitoring shifting consumer trends.
And Adriance is currently looking for a vice president of marketing, likely someone with a strong packaged goods background, to lead the effort in overall brand building and in forging strategic alliances with marketing partners.
Adriance is also looking to fill the role of retail marketing and merchandising.
‘The plan has been identified, and I feel like it’s really beginning to take off,’ says Adriance. ‘It’s all coming together. I kind of feel like I’m on the ground floor watching a rocket take off.’