TO REACH KIDS, GET DOWN TO FLOOR: CONSULTANT

DALLAS -- One of the best ways for supermarkets to capture some of the $160 billion a year spent on kids today is to put ad messages on the floor, said Dave Siegel, general manager of Small Talk, a children's marketing and advertising agency in Cincinnati.Siegel mentioned one study that indicated kids see the floor of a supermarket more than any place else in the store. This is where most kids draw,

DALLAS -- One of the best ways for supermarkets to capture some of the $160 billion a year spent on kids today is to put ad messages on the floor, said Dave Siegel, general manager of Small Talk, a children's marketing and advertising agency in Cincinnati.

Siegel mentioned one study that indicated kids see the floor of a supermarket more than any place else in the store. This is where most kids draw, he pointed out.

Siegel gave a presentation here last month on marketing to kids for some of the 2,200 retailers and distributors attending this year's School and Home Office Products Association trade show.

He advised retailers to reach out to kids by applying one or all of four "drivers" that motivate kids today -- power, freedom, fun and belonging.

"Are your shelves low enough to give kids the power to take products off the shelves? Do you give kids the freedom to try the products? Do kids feel your establishment is the 'in' place to go? Is there a club involved? Are your promotions kids-oriented?" he asked.

Kroger Co., Cincinnati, was cited as doing a good job in putting kids-oriented promotions up front so children can play with them.

According to a SHOPA study, when it comes to shopping for back-to-school supplies, the child chooses the retail establishment or influences the parent to shop a particular store 35% of the time.

Of children ages 9 to 11, 62% shop supermarkets, 31% shop convenience stores and 21% go to the mall, Siegel said.

"As a market segment, kids are a gold mine. They are huge in number, even larger in buying power," said Siegel.

Kids today influence over 20% of all U.S. purchases. Their influence ranges from 40% to 80% in many product categories, he said.

Manufacturers have discovered the power that kids wield on purchasing decisions and have created food and nonfood products especially for them. Siegel showed television advertising that included food products specifically aimed at kids from Oscar Meyer, Kellogg's, Kraft Food's Jello and Frito-Lay's Cheetos.

"Twenty years ago there was no advertising to kids like this. Ten years ago there were no food items to kids," said Siegel. Yogurt, alone, has become a $150 million kids' food item, he said.

Children have become a powerful force mainly because of social and lifestyle changes that have taken place within the family structure since 1980.

In a "then-and-now" comparison, Siegel pointed out that prior to 1980 most kids grew up in a safe, stable family with brothers and sisters. Mom and Dad were always there. There were home-cooked meals. The typical day consisted of school, play and homework.

Today, kids have a two-out-of-three chance of having just one parent, according to a Roper study. The parent or parents work. There are fewer siblings. Home-cooked meals have been replaced by fast food. Today's typical day is school, chores, homework and little play.

This has resulted in independent children, said Siegel. "Kids are powerful because they have to be. They are influential because they are independent."

Kids also have access to more information than ever before. Today, children watch over 30 television channels, as opposed to just three. "More kids know how to use the computer today than their parents do. Of all kids age six and under, 95% are on the computer and a third of these kids are on the computer at home," said Siegel.

The kids market will continue to grow, he said. Sales have been up 20% for the past five years. The U.S. population of children ages five to 13 should increase 5% over the next five years, said Siegel.

One of the best ways to reach kids is through advertising, said Siegel. Consumer behavior studies show that the average adult will remember just one to 1.5 commercials a week. The average child will remember 25 commercials a week.