As a general rule, brands that target children have their work cut out for them. They not only have to tread more carefully to ensure they act über-responsibly, but they must still motivate their young consumer (and parents) to pick their brand over another. Article by Bryan Urbick.
Trying to gain an in-depth understanding of their young consumer's connections to their brand is precisely what Kellogg's Froot Loop cereal wanted to do when sales of its once popular breakfast cereal started to drop.
To find this out, they needed to ask complex questions of 6-8 year olds, so they approached Consumer Knowledge Centre (CKC). They had already established, via quantitative research, that a modified positioning needed to be developed in order to at least halt this decline and possibly reverse it. What CKC needed to do was define the core brand strengths and then build on these.
First, CKC had to create a research approach that would enable them to discover a whole new way of looking at brands: through a child's eye.
The research was focused on the idea of storytelling. Through a combination of drawings, pictures and words as stimulus for 'start-points' of stories, the team worked with groups of young people who were asked to expand on how the adventures of the key brand character, Toucan Sam, could develop by orally completing stories represented.
As it turned out, stories proved to be a fun and easy way for this age group to communicate which adventures were the most motivating. Young people are not usually capable, at this age, to talk too abstractly about themes of adventure and the 'story format' overcame this obstacle and led the research team to start developing metaphors with which they could begin to understand the young people's connection to the brand.
This methodology had proved invaluable too when working on LazyTown. Again, through storytelling, CKC uncovered not only a real lust for adventure, it was in the use of conflict to increase interest in the story and the characters that really got their young audience fired up.
As with Kellogg's, they found a situation where the by-product of the passion for the brand was an increased desire to taste the food, try the products and get fully immersed in the heart of the adventure, as it were.
It was interesting, too, when working with young children, to frequently hear the unprompted suggestions to include a 'bad guy'. Though kids can't articulate it, they regularly ask for conflict and obstacles, and will even create the bad guy if one isn't in the story!
It makes sense. After all, what would Luke Skywalker be without Darth Vader? Children found that the addition of a 'bad guy' enhanced the 'good guy' character as well as added a layer of excitement.
It was through seeing adventure from a child's perspective that they started to grasp the power of the positioning statement. The focus needed to shift from 'discovery and adventure' to 'overcoming obstacles, challenges and (of course) the bad guy'.
As is often the case, a business challenge needs to be flipped on its head to gain a new perspective. Story completion is a simple yet effective approach, which enabled the research team to work shoulder to shoulder with young kids, developing the brand story together.
In this instance, the brand team turned the Kellogg's Froot Loop story into an actionable, deliverable branded product that remained true to the theme the kids had worked on with CKC. This also triggered an award-winning qualitative work that continues to flourish and expand to this day. As with all good stories, this one also had a happy ending.
Bryan Urbick is founder and CEO of the Consumer Knowledge Centre in the UK.
- If you enjoyed this article, you may also like these: How ‘convenience’ foods are changing the way we eat
- Creating the right connections for your brands
- Licensed characters – not exactly child’s play