How Marketers Target Your Kids

Photo: Children Get Lots of Holiday Help: From American Girl to Zhu Zhu Advertisers Spend Millions To Influence Kids Christmas Lists.

It's a better than even bet your child has Zhu Zhu pet on their holiday wish list. I'll reprise the role of Carnac the Magnificent and guess a few other things that are likely on your kid's list: Nintendo Wii or Sony Play Station, Barbie's Twilight Bella and Edward Dolls, Disney's Princess and the Frog Tiana Doll, Fisher Price VTech Ride and Learn Giraffe Bike, Star Wars Lego's or a Dance Around Dora.

Okay, I confess, I'm not a magician and have no powers that would allow me to read your child's mind. I do however have more than a passing knowledge of advertising spending and how marketers target you and your kids during the holiday season. In 1992 marketers spent about $8 billion dollars targeting kids; this year that number is more in the $15 billion to $20 billion dollar range.

It is a known fact in the advertising and marketing world that "pester power" i.e. the power kids have over your pocket book is huge. According to studies children influence as much as 180 billion dollars of spending each year a sizeable portion during the traditional holiday gift giving season. Savvy marketers know it isn't always enough just to influence junior, time must be spent educating parents, usually mom, about the values of a particular toy or game.

Although sales are expected to be flat, holiday spending accounts for about $810 million and smart manufacturers and retailers know there are winners and losers in that number. Kmart, one of the top three toy retailers started marketing 30 to 40 days earlier than they have in previous years.

Wal-Mart, the largest toy retailer doubled its October spending. Toys R Us, which gets about 40 percent of its revenue from the fourth quarter has become the fastest growing brand on Facebook, growing by 40,000 to 90,000 fans per day both young parents and kids with its "Big Book" showcasing the hottest toys along with tools to find and purchase at a Toys R Us location.

Marketers are taking additional steps to make sure holiday sales increase. Toys R Us is opening up 350 temporary stores in its other retail outlets and in malls where bankrupt KB toys was located. Kmart and Wal-Mart are also increasing by as much as ten-fold their offerings of toys that cost less than $10.

Zhu Zhu Pets Marketed Aggressively

Although NPD, a leading marketing and research company that tracks consumer spending predicts that holiday spending will be down this year, marketers are in a fierce battle for your toy dollar. One of the clear winners this year is the Zhu Zhu pet, manufactured by Cepia, LLC. These motorized pet hamsters behave, in many ways, like the real thing. They can make over 40 noises, navigate like a smart vacuum cleaner and be accessorized with everything from a tiny skateboard and hamster wheel to a fun house and a hamster car.

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