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Jetix’s Kidometer gauges new media heat in Europe

Have you ever been stymied by the prospect of getting your brand message across in Europe, where each country's kids are as unique as the local cuisine? Well, Jetix has come to the rescue with Kidometer, a new biannual study that takes an in-depth look at the lifestyle habits of kids living in every territory the broadcaster beams into, helping kids advertisers target their marketing dollars.
February 1, 2007

Have you ever been stymied by the prospect of getting your brand message across in Europe, where each country’s kids are as unique as the local cuisine? Well, Jetix has come to the rescue with Kidometer, a new biannual study that takes an in-depth look at the lifestyle habits of kids living in every territory the broadcaster beams into, helping kids advertisers target their marketing dollars.

Jean-Paul Wevers, sales director at Jetix, says the study was conceived in response to clients’ requests for a Pan-Euro snapshot of kids’ lifestyles. Among other subtopics, Kidometer takes a look at defining cool, how kids spend their leisure time, how they use non-linear devices, and who makes the buying decisions in their homes. Each country is represented by 500 kids ages seven to 15, with a 50/50 gender split.

Perhaps the most important finding from the inaugural issue of Kidometer, which was published in December, is the indication that high-tech equipment is more valuable to kids than clothes or toys. ‘Technology, and knowing about upcoming tech, is fast becoming a way of making oneself popular on the playground, especially amongst boys,’ Wevers says. When kids in the U.K., Poland and Denmark were asked which possession is most important to them, for example, about 20% responded with mobile phones and 18% with game consoles, while toys and clothes fell in the 4% to 9% range.

Of course, the penetration of multimedia devices differs in each European market. In Denmark, 21% of kids prized their mobile phones over everything else, which is logical, says Jetix head of research Vickey Hardy, considering that 90% of the Nordic population owns a cell phone. By comparison, France has a 60% mobile phone penetration, which may explain why kids there don’t value these devices as much as their Nordic counterparts. But another contributing factor may be the tendency of French children to use their parents’ phones and prepaid phone credits. Overall, Hardy says girls are more likely than boys to glom onto mobile technology. ‘They’re really driving the importance of phones for kids,’ she says.

Girls are also quite keen on gaming, which may represent another effective marketing stream for pan-European media planners. Game consoles topped out as the most valued possession of kids in the U.K., Spain and France, territories that have a higher household penetration of current-generation systems such as PS2 and GameCube. But there’s equal excitement across the board for the next wave of hardware. When Kidometer’s research was underway, Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s PS3 hadn’t yet hit European retail, but Hardy says the study’s respondents indicated a strong desire to own these new platforms, too.

Wevers points to the new status of the gaming console in the family home as one of Kidometer’s most intriguing findings. These platforms are no longer relegated to the second television in the basement. Instead, the game console is now firmly entrenched in the home entertainment unit, stored right beside the DVD player and stereo. ‘Console gaming is becoming a medium in its own right, and for advertisers, it’s an avenue that needs to be explored,’ he says.

But despite the appeal that new technology holds for European kids, television still plays a central role in their lives. On average, 86% of kids chose the linear screen as their favorite place to see advertisements. Future issues of Kidometer will keep a close eye on the market position of both TV and digital media, with research for the May edition beginning next month. Hardy anticipates that the study will begin to track behaviors and attitudes in the years to come.

The December version of Kidometer is available for purchase now at a price of US$18,700, and both waves together cost US$33,500. Anyone interested in getting their hands on a copy should contact Wevers (jean-paul.wevers@jetix.net).

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