Winning the Kid Seal of Approval

Some tips on how to market kids' candy in a 'way cool' rather than 'way off' fashion.
Kids put their money where their mouth is — that's their ultimate stamp of approval — and very often their mouth and money vote for novelty/interactive candy. But the money they spend is often even more telling than that of adults. Kids are extremely thoughtful in how they spend the precious dollars they have.
"Marketers often talk about how candy is an impulse purchase. Well, maybe for adults it is, but for kids, it's anything but impulse," says Jennifer Goodman, managing director for The Geppetto Group, based in New York City. "With kids, so much goes on in their heads about their candy choice — long before they get to the store. In some cases, they're negotiating with mom for the purchase, so they're ready."
But make no mistake about it — kids do have their own money to spend. Especially the much coveted "tween" market — defined as kids who are in between being little kids and being teenagers (typically between eight and 12 years of age). Some of the latest industry figures show that kids under 14 personally spend about $100 billion annually — of which about 10 percent goes to consumables like candy. Others say that tweens alone account for more than twice that.
One of the most important reasons for marketers to study and target tweens (currently at more than 20 billion strong — nearly two-thirds the size of the African American or Hispanic market segments in the United States) is that "it is at this stage in their lives when branding begins to take effect," according to David Siegel, co-author of "The Great Tween Buying Machine: Capturing Your Share of the Multi-Billion Dollar Tween Market." According to the book, the four key motivating drivers for tweens are fun, freedom, power and belonging — often found in the uniquely interactive, sometimes gross, aspects of novelty candy.
Keeping a low price point is extremely critical for candy targeted to these kids. "After all, the 'big spenders' we are talking about in novelty candy are still mostly pre-teens," says Foreman Lam, president of Kidsmania Inc. He adds that kids will fork out the money for such fun products "as long as it is around a dollar or so."

Keeping it kid-friendly
But once the fun and price is set, that's where marketers can really lose kids. They assume that with these two aspects in place, the sale will be easy. What they often overlook is whether or not the kids really know a product is for them. And that's where retailers need to come in — by delivering kid-friendly environments.
Since its inception in 2002, Wal-Mart's Kid Connection has often been highlighted as the best example of kid-friendly in the mass market. The concept, featured in more than 60 supercenters and growing, is colorful and exciting and goes beyond a typical retailer's candy offerings, with a big emphasis on novelty candy.
The retail behemoth got especially high marks when it moved this unique candy section away from a bin program and more towards a brand-conscious shelving system. "It used to look like a wall of generic candy," says Armand Hammer, president of Innovative Candy Concepts. "Now the shelf system holds all of the manufacturer displays, thus creating an environment that speaks excitement and fun. It's light years better because kids are so brand-oriented."
But you don't have to be Wal-Mart to have a kid-friendly candy section. Innovative Candy Concepts has created its own candy display that many retailers are using as the focal point of a more exciting kid section. The Innovative set (which it refers to as a "starter kit") is 20 inches and holds six of its best-selling novelty candy products — with a total of 132 pieces. It clips right onto a bar of the candy rack and features a channel strip with photos of kids on it, as well as a big bright sign that hangs over the section that says: "Cool Kids Candy," with an arrow pointing down to the section.
"It puts a lot of product in a small space — it's very efficient for a store to highlight it in this way," maintains Hammer. One gas/convenience store in Clifton Heights, Pa., can certainly verify that. According to a spokesperson for Westbrook Getty, the store sold out its entire Innovative starter kit in one week. "That's eight times faster than what we would classify as average turnover," maintains Hammer. What's more — the store sold out of a second starter kit almost as quickly.
at the top of toyland
These are the top 10 toys for 2003, according to Yahoo! and Yahooligans! based on votes Yahoo! received from its kid users.

1. X-Box
2. Gameboy Advance SP, Platinum
3. Sony Playstation 2 System
4. Bratz Sty’l It Dana
5. Bounce Around Indoor/
Outdor Jumping Room
6. The Dog Feature Plush: Beagle
7. Bratz Karaoke with TV Screen
8. Real Meal Oven
9. Fur Real Go Go Puppy
10. My Scene Chillin’ Out Barbie

The lesson for other retailers: Don't underestimate the power of an effective section for kids. "When kids spend their own money, they know what they want and they communicate with each other on a level I've not seen with adults," says Hammer. "I have seen our products wipe out of a store as if locusts were coming because a kid went to school with the product and showed it off to others on lunch hour and told them where they could buy it. They have their own incredible networking ability, and they use it."
For those who want to make a candy section even more kid- friendly in the future— how about really empowering kids — with a special way to pay for the candy? "Candy credit cards for kids would be a great idea," dreams up Dave Jupp, director of packaging and design for Imaginings 3 - Flix Candy, based in Niles, Ill. "Parents could buy them as allowance money or as a reward for a job well done. I see them as limited to a specific area of the store — such as toys and candy only. Psychologically, it would be a great way to allow kids to do their own shopping, while parents shop in 'their' sections of the store."
Reel them in
Beyond the point of purchase, manufacturers (and retailers) need to catch kids where they live, so to speak. Movie theaters are a perfect place to capture the attention of kids with product or even retail messages, according to Fred Paprin, principal and co-founder of The Wildflower Group, based in New York City. "Ads that take place before the airing of previews are very valuable real estate, particularly for a tween boy or girl," he says. "These kids love getting to the theater early — it's a place where they can be hip and cool and away from their parents. They can really 'find' themselves here, once they get away from a world that's highly stressed out, with their parents all over them. The movie theater becomes a sanctuary for their little world."
movies that will move them
(The 2004 Spring/Early Summer Movie Release Schedule for Kids)

March 12, 2004 - “Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London” (MGM)
March 26, 2004 - “Scoobie-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed” (Warner Bros.)
April 2, 2004 - “Home on the Range” (Walt Disney Pictures)
May 21, 2004 - “Shrek 2”
May 26, 2004 -“Raising Helen”
(Touchstone Pictures)
June 4, 2004 - “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (Warner Bros.)
July 2, 2004 - “Spiderman-2” (SONY Pictures)
Source: The Movie Times (

Marketers shouldn't feel like the message has to tie into a movie to be effective here, according to Paprin. "You just have to be inventive enough — like with some promotion involving video games or premium giveaways," he says. "Study the target, know what moves them, and you'll move the merchandise."
When "talking" to kids, whether in an ad or on a shelf, it is imperative that kid marketers avoid any "baby talk," because kids always see themselves as older than they are. "This is true all the way up until college," says Stan Madaloni, CEO of Mada Design, based in New York City. "All kids see themselves as being in the next age group up from where they are, and no one wants to be the baby. They don't gravitate to words like 'cute.' They want to hear about products and displays that put them in control. Empowering children is so much more successful than trying to talk down to them."
The media is a big reason why kids are so savvy. According to Goodman, kids have adopted a habit of "media multi-tasking," which means they have access to more knowledge and power. "Kids have so much going on in their lives today, they're able to focus on more than one thing at a time," says Goodman. "They're watching TV, surfing the web, reading a book, listening to music — they're interacting with media very holistically."
Topps Confections is one company that understands this kind of interactive mindset. "Kids want to see hot characters interacting with brands," says Ari Weinstock, senior brand manager. "For example, Cartoon Network, one of the hottest entertainment mediums for kids, will feature spots with Ed, Edd, & Eddy and Dexter from Dexter's Lab interacting with Juicy Drop Pop in wild and fun ways."
According to "The Great Tween Buying Machine: Capturing Your Share of the Multi-Billion-Dollar Tween Market" (Dearborn Trade Publishing, May 2004), most tweens (ages 8-12) report earning money from household chores, birthdays, and holidays. In addition, the majority of tweens (56 percent) receive at least some form of allowance from their parents. Older tweens (ages 10 and up) are earning additional funds from activities like babysitting, mowing the lawn, and shoveling snow. Small percentages even report having an after-school job.
How Much Money Do You Spend Weekly?
Dollar Amount
8-to-9 year-olds
10-to-12 year-olds
Less than $5
More than $5
Source: WonderGroup/KidzEyes 2003 Study
Topps also believes in a lot of online promotions. This year, it is sponsoring a contest with (Nickelodeon) to name the Push Pops spokes-kangaroo. "We are also working with the hugely popular to offer Baby Bottle Pops to feed the Neopets themselves, launching in the spring," adds Weinstock.
Lights! Candy! Interaction!
Kids are noticing a bright new light coming off the novelty candy category. Illumination technology has literally lit up a number of products in the section.
"Kids love products that engage the interactivity of more than one of their senses," says Jeffri Epps, strategic marketing director for The Haystack Group, a marketing and research company based in Atlanta and known for its work in kids' categories.
What's especially cool about illumination is the fact that "it's instant gratification for kids," says Rick Johnson, president and CEO of LitePop LLC, San Diego. "It's faster than taste — it's at the speed of light, and you really can't beat that." Another point Johnson emphasizes — "the technology can be incorporated into a lot of hand-sized novelties that kids have always loved — it's very transportable."
Recent advances in LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) initiated in areas such as new stoplights, stadium lights, and automobile taillights, were the precursor for the candy trend coming to light. "The reason illuminated novelties are getting bigger is the cost of illumination has gone down with increased manufacturer competition," explains Johnson. "This is all about the increased brightness of LEDs and the more consistent microchip manufacturing taking place worldwide. When I first invented the LitePop five or six years ago, it retailed for $30; now they're selling for $1.99-$2.99."
LitePop is one of a number of illuminated candies targeted to kids. It combines "great-tasting candy" with a glowing tube that not only brightly illuminates the candy, but also lights up the head and mouth of the consumer in a dramatic fashion — that is first and foremost safe. LitePop has received a U.S. patent for lighted confection technology. Johnson's patented design keeps the light transmission element away from the candy and, therefore, the mouth. LitePop has also received FDA approval.
"There is no question that this product is completely safe because the light transmission element is not connected to the candy," explains Johnson. "The pop's stick is a plastic tube containing a reflective inner coating, and a custom-designed LED, activated by a switch on the base of the pop's handle. There is no lighting element that comes in contact with the candy."
Lite-Pop Candy can stay lit six to eight hours continuously. The lollipop, which consists of a bright light, glowing message tube and candy topping, comes in a variety of flavors.
Malibu Toys, a frontrunner in the light-up novelties trend, is also focused on safety. "There are safety concerns with light-up products, just as there are when any electronics are used in toy/kid products," says Kami Gillmour-Bryant, principal of the Malibu, Calif.-based company. "We go to great lengths to make sure our products follow all FDA guidelines and pass rigorous safety tests before they are released to the public. Guaranteeing consumer safety is a necessity here."
Flashin' Lix, Malibu's premiere illuminated candy line, is made up of light-up lollipops in both generic and licensed shapes that now come in jelly and hard candy formats. Because of the "immediate retail success" of the line, the company recently introduced Finger Lites, light-up candy rings.
Malibu Toys ventured into the candy market after it experienced great success in its Cosmic Giggles brand of light-up jewelry and fashion accessories.
Kidsmania's latest candy success story is also one of illumination — the Flash Pop. It is doing so well, "we are introducing the Blink Pop in the May/June timeframe, a natural expansion to Flash Pop," announces Foreman Lam, president of Kidsmania Inc., based in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. "The major difference between the newer Blink Pop and the Flash Pop is the newer item can be turned on to stay blinking while the candy pop is being enjoyed. The Blink Pop is also designed to allow the users to create their blinking ice-pop after the candy-pop is consumed."
In order to keep its toy-candy products safe for kids, Kidsmania reports it avoids "small plastic parts that can come loose."
With safety in check, the popularity of illumination and novelty candy is predicted to grow even brighter. "We haven't seen the limits of this and other technology combined with candy, in fact, we continue to push those limits," says Epps.
Key Kid Licenses
for 2004
“Spiderman 2”
“Shrek 2”

“Teen Titans”

“Astro Boy”
“Baby Einstein”

“Care Bears”
“Strawberry Shortcake”
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”
“Cabbage Patch Kids”
“Hallmark Licensing’s Rainbow Brite”

• Equity Marketing will debut its first food item featuring Scooby-Doo, Kids Only! through its new alliance with Hershey, and Creative Designs with its new M&M license; all products are due on shelves in fall 2004.
• Spin Master extends its Hershey license with the Hershey’s S’Mores Maker and Hershey’s Kisses Kisses Maker, both due August 2004.
Source: License! Magazine