With the largest number of kids in the world, India provides a huge opportunity for marketers. The country has around 420 million kids in the age group of 0-14 years, forming a sizeable 35 per cent of the entire population.
Marketing to kids requires a balance between responsibility and revenue. While kids play an important role of influencer, marketers still have to go through the parents filter, who are the final decision makers.
Agreeing with this, Rajesh Ramakrishnan, Marketing Head, Hindustan Times, feels that at the end of the day, the choice depends on the kids.
Quoting a line from the hit Hollywood movie ‘Spiderman’, Sashwati Banerjee, Managing Director, Sesame Workshop India Trust, stresses that with great power comes great responsibility. Highlighting the responsibility and revenue dilemma, she shares that Sesame Street, a US-based organisation working for underprivileged children, had been getting ads from fast food giant McDonald’s for seven years. But when reports started appearing about the trans fat content in MacDonald’s food and how it is leading to obesity in people, Sesame Street was faced with choosing between being responsible and the revenue factor.
“There was a mismatch between the work that we do and McDonald’s sponsorship. We finally decided that we could not go on with this association and ended it,” Banerjee adds.
Harish Bijoor, brand expert & CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults, also feels that there should be separate code of ethics that every company should follow when it comes to marketing to children. “Marketers should be concerned about how they are presenting themselves and responsible in how they are marketing to the TG,” he advises.
Addressing this concern of Bijoor’s, Neeraj Bassi, Vice President, Account Planning, Oglivy & Mather, assures that his agency has set policies in place and does not feature kids in ads below a certain age.
At the same time, Bassi also says that marketers and ad agencies need to do things in a different manner all the time to keep the children engaged, since their attention span is short. Citing the example of the Barbie doll, he says though the character and the product have remained same, a lot of variety has been introduced over the years, which has kept alive the kids’ interest levels.
Taking note of the importance of the parent factor while marketing to kids, Harminder Sahini, Founder, Wazir Advisors, says that though kids are the final consumers, he markets to them through the parents.
Harish Bajoor, Harminder Sahni, Sashwati Banerjee, Neeraj Bassi and Rajesh Ramakrishnan were sharing their views at a panel discussion on ‘Marketing to Kids’ at the World Children Expo, in New Delhi on May 25, 2012.