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Delving into the entertainment passions of tots ages four to eight

Tapping into the headspace of the elusive four- to eight-year-old market is a critical strategic focus for many licensing industry players. Whether you own licensed properties, are assessing them as a licensee, or are searching for cross-promotional opportunities, it's imperative that you go beyond anecdotal information to get the quantifiable facts you need to drive your decision-making.
June 1, 2003

Tapping into the headspace of the elusive four- to eight-year-old market is a critical strategic focus for many licensing industry players. Whether you own licensed properties, are assessing them as a licensee, or are searching for cross-promotional opportunities, it’s imperative that you go beyond anecdotal information to get the quantifiable facts you need to drive your decision-making.

But getting this data has traditionally been tricky since it’s illegal to collect info from kids on the Internet without parental permission (and since parental involvement can often influence survey responses). To help you get the info you need, Decision Insight is launching a new quarterly tracking study called Kids Licensing Report (KLR) this month. Talking to kids on their own turf – in daycare centers and schools, which ensures validated answers – the nationwide survey will be based on responses from more than 800 four- to eight-year-olds across the country, with a balanced gender split. KLR will also survey 400 parents to gauge the extent to which they influence their children’s entertainment and consumption choices. The report measures the popularity of TV shows, movies, licensed characters, celebrities, websites, video games, food, beverages and restaurants. Here are some intriguing findings from the debut KLR survey of 500 kids and 250 parents. (Due to the survey’s close timing to spring break and standardized testing, DI was unable to reach its full sample this time.)

As Marvel gets ready to pack another superhero punch with The Hulk bowing in theaters this month, there might still be some legwork to do with younger fans as the property has not really caught on with KLR’s kid test group – not even the boys. DI asked kids to rate a set of more than 60 characters based on how ‘cool’ they are. Not one kid named the Incredible Hulk as ‘a favorite character from TV, a video or a movie.’ On the flip side, there is evidence that when the buzz builds, the property will be strong enough to rip through to this demo: 39% of boys think the character is ‘totally cool,’ and another 12% ‘kinda like it.’

If you need to get a handle on the musical tastes of the four to eight demo, don’t underestimate their sophistication. These kids are already looking to emulate older siblings and peers. Our boy respondents’ favorite musical talents include: Eminem (3%), Britney Spears (4%), N’Sync (4%) and the Backstreet Boys (6%). But while girls also love Britney (17.2%), N’Sync (4.8%) and the Backstreet Boys (3.2%), they give props to Avril Lavigne (6.8%), the Dixie Chicks (3.6%) and Shania Twain (3.2%) too.

The good news is that with such a low concentration of favorites, there is certainly opportunity for new musicians with the right kind of marketing support to break through the clutter and reach a truly mass audience.

Although parents act as the primary gatekeepers who decide what licensed products their kids can have, they may not be wise to all of the properties their kids are into. As you can see from the charts below, they missed Shrek when detailing their daughters’ fave properties, and Jimmy Neutron didn’t make the list of what they think their sons like. So it’s important for licensors, licensees, marketers and retailers alike to keep this gatekeeper dynamic in mind when devising their marketing strategies for new and existing properties.

Top 10 Licenses with Girls

1. Scooby-Doo 87%

2. Lilo & Stitch 84%

2. Shrek 84%

3. Classic Disney Princesses 80%

3. SpongeBob SquarePants 80%

4. Lion King 76%

4. Lizzie McGuire 76%

4. Mary Kate & Ashley 76%

4. Wild Thornberrys 76%

5. Ariel 75%

What parents think girls like

1. Classic Disney Princesses 92%

2. Barbie 90%

3. Scooby-Doo 88%

4. Lilo & Stitch 86%

5. SpongeBob SquarePants 82%

Top 10 Licenses with Boys

1. Scooby-Doo 87%

2. Spider-Man 85%

2. SpongeBob SquarePants 85%

3. Hot Wheels 81%

4. Jimmy Neutron 80%

5. Shrek 78%

6. Rugrats 74%

7. Lilo & Stitch 73%

8. Star Wars 72%

8. Batman 72%

What parents think boys like

1. Spider-Man 89%

2. Scooby-Doo 88%

3. SpongeBob SquarePants 85%

4. Hot Wheels 84%

5. Shrek 81%

If this sampling of KLR’s data has whet your appetite, then get ready to tuck in. Next month, KidScreen is launching a new regular feature that will highlight a few choice tidbits from KLR and Decision Insight’s Trend Tracker, a bi-monthly survey of kids ages eight to 15.

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