Kid Think Inc. What Today’s Kids Are Thinking: Play it again, kids

To help us keep up-to-date with what's happening with kids, we've asked Kid Think Inc., a youth marketing consulting group, to investigate and report back to us on a wide range of issues in kids' lives. Since today's kids spend so...
February 1, 1998

To help us keep up-to-date with what’s happening with kids, we’ve asked Kid Think Inc., a youth marketing consulting group, to investigate and report back to us on a wide range of issues in kids’ lives. Since today’s kids spend so much time on-line, Kid Think talked with kids via LiveWire: Today’s Families Online, a proprietary panel of 600 on-line families across the United States.

Both Kid Think and LiveWire are divisions of Griffin Bacal, a New York communications agency specializing in the youth and family markets. If you have any questions or subjects you would like Kid Think to cover, call Paul Kurnit at 212-337-6442 or e-mail

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This month, LiveWire asked kids age eight to 12 for their opinions on toys and toy commercials.

What we found:

The boys on our panel seemed to prefer video games with a lot of action, as well as construction and building toys, while girls chose a variety of dolls and arts and crafts to occupy their time. Both boys and girls insisted on toys that they could play with repeatedly.

Our panel pointed out that for a toy to be continually engaging, it needs to have something unique that sets it apart, like multiple functions or features and a lot of action. In addition, some kids said they also look for games that pose a challenge. ‘Games have to be fun and a little hard, so I don’t learn real quick and then don’t want to play it,’ says Becky, age 9, from Virginia.

As for the influence of toy commercials, our panel was roughly divided. Many said they rely on the play experiences they have with their friends, while others depend on commercials to keep them abreast of new toys and to explain how they work.

Some of the panel said that they are slightly skeptical about the way commercials depict toys. Many said they are more likely to want a toy when a commercial seems more realistic in its portrayal of kids having fun. And similar to toys, a commercial needs something unique to make kids want to play with the toy advertised.

Commercials that hit a right note with kids tend to be filled with action, have funny music and contain good graphics. Some of the most popular ones were the Nintendo 64 commercials because of the action, Talking Nano because of the music and the R/C Tantrum Car because of the graphics.

What kids said:

We asked kids to name the toys they would like to receive. Computer games, Beanie Babies and virtual pets topped almost everyone’s list. Here’s a glimpse of what they had to say:

‘Computer action games, like Doom, and stuff that’s fast and exciting.’ Robert, New Jersey, age 9

‘More Beanie Babies, Nintendo, Mall Madness game and [the book] Telephone Tag.’ Allie, Florida, age 11

‘Sailor Moon dolls, Rapunzel Barbie, and Indians LEGO set.’ Susannah, Pennsylvania, age 8

‘I am hoping to get Nintendo 64 and a game or two and a new LEGO building set, hopefully one with a motor.’ Sean, Massachusetts, age 12

‘The giant AT-AT Walker from [the movie] Star Wars that shoots things, comes with action figures and makes sounds, the Microsoft 3D Movie Maker because I have a trial version and I’ve been making very funny movies.’ Matthew, Connecticut, age 10

‘Barbies, American Girl stuff, Giga Pets and Beanie Babies, computer games, Mall Madness game, anything with Hanson on it and arts and crafts kits to make jewelry.’ Rachel, New York, age 9

Next month: Kid Think Inc. asks kids how they use the Internet.

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