The kids-eye view of promotions

Promotions become a part of kids' lives from the time they can recognize a logo and point. Whether in a fast food restaurant or the cereal aisle, promotions are an important part of marketing to kids. But what do kids think...
November 1, 2000

Promotions become a part of kids’ lives from the time they can recognize a logo and point. Whether in a fast food restaurant or the cereal aisle, promotions are an important part of marketing to kids. But what do kids think of these promotions? This month, LiveWire spoke to over 150 kids ages eight to 12 to find out.

What we found:

Fast-food promos

Virtually all of our kids can remember specific kids meal promotions. Some premiums, in particular, really had an impact as kids were able to detail with great precision what they received. Frequently mentioned items included Teeny Beanie Babies, along with Hot Wheels, Barbie, Pokémon and Disney premiums.

When asked to tell us which fast-food outlet is their fave, McDonald’s topped kids’ lists. Coming in a distant second was Burger King, followed by Taco Bell, Wendy’s, KFC and Pizza Hut. While premiums are clearly important to this consumer group, it is not the primary reason they like these establishments. The great majority of kids say that it’s the food-be it the fries, tacos, hamburgers, pizza, chicken nuggets or subs-that really matters.

But don’t underestimate the power of a good premium. The majority of kids told us that they have gone to certain fast-food restaurants just to get a particular toy. Those powerful premiums include Teeny Beanie Babies, Pokémon toys, Backstreet Boys toys and Star Wars toys.

Finally, we asked these kids to rate a variety of premium categories. The top pick was ‘little stuffed animals,’ followed by ‘little handheld games,’ ‘action figures’ and ‘trading cards.’ As one might expect, there were gender differences when it came to rating the best premiums. Girls favor ‘little stuffed animals’ and boys prefer ‘action figures,’ ‘little handheld games’ and ‘trading cards.’

The cereal aisle

Almost all of the boys and about three-quarters of the girls say they remember getting a premium in a box of cereal. Most kids told us that they do not collect the toys that they get from cereal boxes and don’t make cereal choices based on the prize. Taste is the primary factor, although a little under half say it’s a combination of the taste and the prize. In fact, almost all of our panelists saythey have never bought a box of cereal just because of a certain premium. Even at this age, kids seem to be quite aware of their cereal-eating responsibilities: If they ask for it, they have to eat it. Picking the right box is a big commitment for a kid.

What kids said:

About half of the kids told us that they have participated in a contest or a sweepstakes, and about four in 10 kids have actually won something. What kind of contest or sweepstakes would kids create if the sky was the limit? We asked them.

‘It would be a contest for kids who do brave things or get good grades. I think a good prize would be to go to Space Camp, or to swim with the dolphins and manatees in Orlando.’ Jolee, 11, Florida

‘First prize would be a lifetime supply of every single candy.’ Michael, 8, Wisconsin

‘You go into a big box of green pieces of foam. If you find a red piece, you get a whole bunch of scholarships.’ Amanda, 9, Montana

‘I like firemen. Something to do with that, maybe like a relay race or a day with a fireman. The prize? Riding to calls.’ James, 10, New Jersey

‘A trip to Florida for the kid who helps their mom the most.’ Jessica, 10, New York

‘Who wants to be a billionaire? The prize would be a billion dollars, and you would win by answering really hard stuff about history. Like the 1980s and stuff like that.’ Skyler, 11, Oregon

‘A contest where everyone could win a free ice cream cone instead of one person winning a bunch of stuff and everyone else winning nothing.’ Sarah, 9, Indiana

‘Call a number, win a huge playroom with a big-screen TV with a video game. I would be the instant winner.’ Michael, 8, New Jersey

‘Who could eat the most potatoes. First prize would be money. I would win by eating the most potatoes in a certain amount of time.’ Chauntel, 8, Idaho

‘The contest would be to design a commercial that targets kids, selling cereal and ways to eat cereal as a snack instead of just with milk in a bowl.’ Kelsey, 10, North Dakota

Next month: The best and worst things about being a kid.

Kid Think Inc., a youth marketing consulting group, investigates a wide range of issues in kids’ lives. Kid Think talks with kids via LiveWire: Today’s Families Online, a proprietary panel of more than 3,300 on-line families across the United States. Both Kid Think and LiveWire are divisions of Griffin Bacal, a New York-based 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 212-415-2992 or e-mail

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