Being in the business of kids, there’s only one thing you can be certain of – they are a constantly moving target. So what does a snapshot of today’s kid look like? They are tech-savvy, globally-aware and brand-conscious. They collect Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, play video games like Golden Sun, and are active members of the Neopet community. They’re a fickle bunch, and cracking their code is the ultimate challenge.
Enter YTV’s team of trend-hunters, who live and breathe kid culture. Equipped with information from a variety of sources including the annual YTV Kid & Tween Report, Yabber.net (our on-line kids community) and S.W.A.T. (our kid advisory panel), these cool-seekers can be found where kids are: on the street, at the malls and on the net. Here are some of their most recent findings…
Since the early ’90s, young consumers’ increasingly sophisticated tastes have demanded that the pop music industry span a wider range of music genres, including urban and alternative rock. The music industry has responded with a flood of artists who are crossing over into other genres in order to appeal to more diverse audiences:
* Avril Lavigne, the ‘not-so-pop’ pop star, breaks barriers in both pop and rock charts with a straight-up attitude and skater-punk style that make her pop sound appeal to the rock crowd too.
* Kelly Osbourne, the 17-year-old, pink-haired daughter of rocker Ozzy, appeals to kids because of her down-to-earth, refreshingly real personality. Kelly’s face has been plastered all over youth media since her highly anticipated performance of Madonna’s ‘Papa Don’t Preach’ at the MTV Movie Awards.
Kids’ ongoing interest in all things Asian continues to grow beyond Asian-inspired graphic T-shirts and hot TV shows like Samurai Jack and Jackie Chan Adventures. Adorable and cuddly character-branded merchandise is on the rise:
* No doubt you’ve noticed Mashimaro (CLKO Entertainment), the latest cutie from Japan. He’s a white bunny character who has taken over mall stores and squints at you from backpacks everywhere. Mashimaro’s soft, plump marshmallow body betrays his tough character; he’s lonely, negative and downright miserable – and he’s knocked Hello Kitty off her throne as the hottest-selling character in Korea.
* Pucca (Vooz), a romantically aggressive female hero with love on her mind, is another big merchandise mover. The character first appeared in a Korean digital mobile phone game and became even more accessible to kids when she expanded onto the web in humorous Flash cartoons and branded computer accessories, which can be found in malls and specialty Asian gift stores.
* Originally an illustrated book and now a television series (which launched on Cartoon Network and YTV this summer), Hamtaro stars a pet hamster who hangs out with his Ham-Ham Gang pals. The preschool property has a loyal following in Japan, and the fascination with Hamtaro is gaining momentum here in North America, with Hasbro toys and Nintendo video games now at retail.
Other hot trends on the horizon
* Toys with interchangeable parts, such as Stikfas (Hasbro). Kids have been spotted collecting these customizable and poseable three-inch figures with snap-on bits.
* Fame becomes a reality. From karaoke toys with blue-screen video technology, to dance video games and reality television, the goal of stardom has never seemed so attainable for kids. Enter Fox’s American Idol, the latest music-based television show to transform an ordinary person into a star. The show has now spawned a CD release and a touring show, and Fox is currently finalizing the details of a sequel that could air as early as next spring.
The trend ball just never stops rolling, so click on ‘What’s Hot’ at www.ytvmedia.com for future updates on what’s heating up the kid cool radar.
Susan Schaefer is Corus Entertainment’s VP of television marketing. She can be reached either by phone at 416-530-5125 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.