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Today's child is tomorrow's adult customer

Kids and Youth Marketing

Don't miss the opportunity to start building loyalty now.

Fact: Kids ages four to 12 spent $9 billion on goods and services last year. Fact: By the time they are eight years old, most buying decisions for the child are done by the child. You can take these facts to the bank if you start directing what you have to sell toward what young folks like to buy. Today's stories show how that is being done by toy stores and food manufacturers Crowley Kidz.

Fact: "Children start at a very early age to develop brand loyalty," - Arlyn Brenner, Child Research Service

Crowley is an East Coast manufacturer of dairy products. When they introduced their new yoghurt products - aimed specially for children-they put together a promotion (translation: paid for everything) for supermarkets.

They ran in-store-sampling sessions of their new yoghurt flavours. Scott Fairbanks, dairy manager of Wegman's supermarket (Johnson City. NY) said, "This kids' demo tripled sales without a special price." Tripled sales? By the manufacturer and retailer working together? Why doesn't everybody do that?

Crowley gave away Revolutionary War red, white and blue Crowley hats. They had the young- folks sign up (database) to become members of Crowley Kids, receiving a Velcro wallet and a newsletter sent to their home that tells all about-yes, yes, the newest yoghurt flavours with special coupons to give to mom the next time they go food shopping...

Does Crowley use this database to tell their new young members where they can go and buy Crowley foods? Bet on it. A win-win-win situation: the manufacturer, the retailer and the target audience-kids.

What is Crowley doing? Two things:

1. Rewarding the targeted customer.

2. Partnering with the retailer.

It there is one thing you can learn from what follows, it's this: The success of tomorrow's retailer depends upon the working together of manufacturer and retailer.

The traditional out-to-get-me antagonism between maker and marketer must be changed in order for both to succeed. Regis McKenna, author of "Relationship Marketing," asks, "We don't quickly change doctors, lawyers or accountants. Why can't manufacturers and retailers build this same kind of' relationship?"

Well, it is happening, Regis. Herbert Baum, president of Campbell, North and South America, said, "In 1993 money or deals and promotions were controlled by manufacturers for performance programs. But by the year 2000, the money will be given to retailers to execute customer-specific programs."

We see it happening now: Car retailers are ganging up on the builders, saying, "My market is different than the national market. We want something specific just for us." Proctor & Gamble is tailoring ads to target specific markets.

The Speelboom Club
There are 150 independent Speelboom stores in the Netherlands. They specialise in toys for children (comparison: "Toys 'R Us").

They offer a membership in their "Speelboom club" to children ages four to 12 for an annual cost of five guilders (about $3).

When joining, members receive a Speelboom club journal four times a year, special discounts at special times on special toys. A membership card and wallet and the all-important "wish list" are mailed to each member just before their birthday.

The "wish list," is a collection of toys a member wants for their birthday, much like a bridal registry in gift stores? They bring their "wish list" to their nearest Speelboom store, turn it in and receive a free gift.

Comparison: Think of your child giving a list of what they want for Christmas when they sit on Santa Claus' lap for that annual photo.

The obligation quickly passes from Santa to the parent. Does this differ from your child bringing in a list of what they want for their birthday to Speelboom? Answer: No.

There are presently more than 100,000 members, or 10% of the 4- to 12-year-old population, of this club in Holland.

Next, think about this: More than 65% of the membership bring their "wish slip" to the nearest Speelboom store. Add it up folks, that's 65,000 customers!

What happens if Monkey The Ape (the Speelboom cartoon character) forgets to send out your child's birthday card? According to Vincent Nies, Speelboom's concept manager, the store receives letters and phone calls asking what happened.

The marketing extends beyond birthday time, says Nies, "We can select boys or girls in certain cities, certain ages [and] do member-get-a-member campaigns."

Think about that. One 6-year-old boy talking- to another: "I like this wallet It's free. From the Speelboom toy store. Here's my membership card in it too. And know what, they give me a birthday present every year. Wouldn't you like to join?"

Sure. You bet. And how. Where do I sign?

All they are doing is ... business. Because of the unique partnership between the parent company and the individual retailers.

Meanwhile, back at your local super markets ... Fact: "Nearly 50% of girls and 30% of boys grocery shop for their families each week. "

Teenage Research Unlimited.
One of the biggest promotions in supermarkets today is a to gram called "Kids Week. PD&W Supermarkets in Grand Rapids, Michigan, runs this promotion every year. Their free-standing tabloid in the weekly newspaper looks like all the art was drawn by kids. The products offer specials on what kids like best: peanut butter, jelly, Oreos, candy, ice cream, breakfast cereals ... It is not unusual to see kids walking the aisles, with "their" newspaper in hand, picking and choosing the advertised specials.

Piggly Wiggly Supermarkets have a Piggly Wiggly Pals club in 40 stores, six states totalling 40,000 members. When kids sign up at their nearest Piggly Wiggly store, they receive, on a regular basis, Piggly Wiggly comic books, coupons for food they love to buy and packages that tie in with the environment or education.

Said one mother in Caruthersville, Missouri, "My son is only three years old, but he knows when we come into Piggly Wiggly there's something for him. He begs me to take him to Piggly Wiggly!"

So when they tell you the purchase of breakfast cereal is determined by children eight out of 10 times, believe it! Cookie Clubs are available for children in supermarkets all over the country. How it works: The child signs up (or the parent signs up for the child) at the local supermarket. They receive a "Cookie Club" membership card.

Every time they shop with mom, they go to the bakery department, show their club card and receive a free cookie.

All these examples are simply an indication that the manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer are combining forces to make sure they have tomorrow's adult customer, which is today's child. And, once they have the name, make sure they keep an ongoing dialogue so the child will beg to be taken to your store.

A recent cartoon summed it up well. A young boy is watching television. His mother calls him in for supper. His answer: I can't come right now, Mom. I'm watching a commercial specifically targeted at my demographic section of the population.

Murray Raphel developed Gordon's Alley, a multimillion dollar mall in Atlantic City. One of the major reasons for his success: direct mail. He has been telling the retail direct mail story as a columnist in Direct Marketing for more than 30 years, and travels throughout the world giving direct mail seminars and serves as a consultant to major corporations throughout the world. He can be reached at Raphel Marketing, Gordon's Alley, 1012 Atlantic Ave., Atlantic City, NJ 08401-6091348-6646.

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