“The UAE is an interesting market. The exposure of kids to high-end designer brands starts at a very young age, and is mostly driven by the fashion and style conscious parents. Parents want to see their children dress well, and the children thus, are also becoming increasingly brand-conscious. But, as the market is evolving, and newer multi-brand stores are getting launched, the focus has to be beyond just merchandise, it has to be on delivering new and unique experiences. Once such area is – Shopping and Storytelling. Kids love stories, and shopping and storytelling offers immense possibilities in creating unique immersive experiences.” Said Pratibha Jain Mathur, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at tiffinBOX Insights.
MediAvataar interviewed Pratibha and she shared extremely enriching insights about the new age kids and what their firm tiffinBOX stands for.
Here is the complete Q&A…..
MediAvataar: What does tiffinBOX Insights stand for?
Pratibha: tiffinBOX Insights is the region’s first children’s research, consultation and engagement firm. Focused exclusively on children, the company’s name was inspired by the ‘tiffin box’, which is a small lunchbox used to carry a light meal for children going to school. tiffinBOX is headquartered in Dubai and engages and executes children research projects across the globe.
MediAvataar: What made you launch something like this?
Pratibha: We are an all women founding team, as well as mothers ourselves. The challenge of demystifying young people, creating specialized new age research tools, and delivering futuristic and responsible business solutions to address the generation of tomorrow, was strong enough to pull us together and begin the tiffinBOX journey. tiffinBOX was launched in 2015.
tiffinBOX aims to demystify the colorful lives of young people aged between four and twelve years by providing clients with business solutions to address the particular needs and wants of this key demographic. Using our experience in conjunction with a consulting board of child psychology and behavior experts, and mother and child panels, tiffinBOX provides research solutions for brands targeting this specific demographic. We utilize age appropriate proprietary tools and techniques using a story-telling approach to engage with them in a meaningful and responsible way.
MediAvataar: You recently conducted a research in Saudi Arabia, what are the key insights you uncovered when it comes to Saudi children?
Pratibha: We worked extensively on understanding the digital behavior of the kids in Saudi Arabia. Keeping in mind that this generation is that of digital natives, who are initiated into the digital world as soon as they are born, tiffinBOX concentrated on identifying nuances that could make the digital experience, fun, friendly and fruitful for each child.
Another very exciting project in Saudi, a highly successful initiative, was designed to help family brands develop impactful Ramadan communication and connect with its consumers in the most effective way. Here as well, in addition to uncovering the adult’s emotional space, for the first time the child’s emotions and manifestations of the Ramadan values was understood. The motivations and payoffs of the parents and children during the Holy month was a revelation in many ways, and it was surprising to see how children related to the emerging Ramadan values of solidarity and responsibility and practiced the same in their own little ways. The power of the Ramadan Emotions study is in its actionability. This one-of-a-kind study identified specific emotional spaces that are more cluttered than others, and a few new and emerging spaces, namely- solidarity and responsibility that could be embraced by Marketing and Brand Managers to break the clutter and plan their next Ramadan Campaign.
MediAvataar: You also conducted a year-end research to uncover what the UAE kids were looking forward to this Christmas/ New Year’s. What were the key findings?
Pratibha: This festive season, it has been increasingly evident that children are being recognised as a major factor in influencing family decisions.
A unique research that focused on understanding the festive season plans of families and the impact of the minors on these decisions, brought to notice that togetherness and the perpetuation of sibling fondness played a much larger role than has been given credit for in the past. In an exercise called Letters To Santa, where we encouraged children to share their wishes, we discovered that ‘love’ was an over-riding emotion expressed in solidarity with the family. Amongst the several sentiments were comments like ‘I wish for a lot of love from my family’, or ‘I wish for a special book for my baby sister that has a spring to hold on to the pages if pulled apart’ or ‘I wish for good health and happiness of my family.’ This finding signposted a desire for family-centric gifts and toys that encourage group participation, like family board games and building & construction sets.
Another important insight was that children seek immersive experiences. Whether it is a trip to an exotic location, a visit to a theme park, or being able to immerse in their interests of music, sports and the likes, it is all about soaking one-self in unique interesting experiences.
It has also been seen that the pre-teens are well used to immersive experiences, especially those that are created through digitally connected objects and Interactive platforms. Making a comeback are books and story-telling in different formats.
In summary, whilst promotions and discounts catch the attention of the buyer, children are integral to the decision where to spend time and money during the holiday season.
MediAvataar: Which brands you think took your insights into consideration and came up with path breaking/effective strategies?
Pratibha: Indeed, our learnings and insights have been inducted into future marketing plans by many consumer industry leaders that cater to these young audiences, such as BEL, Cereal Partners Worldwide (A Nestle and General Mills venture), to name a few. All our research is designed with actionability in mind, which is highly valued by our clients, be Marketing, Planning or Brand Managers.
MediAvataar: In light of the recent launch of IMG and Legoland, please can you share your insights on the changing Kids’ entertainment market?
Pratibha: The recent opening of the many theme-parks in the region, has been one of the key highlights of the past year. And it’s not just the kids who are excited about them, the parents are equally so. When we spoke to parents at the onset of the festive season, about 40% of the parents claimed that they will definitely be visiting one of the new entertainment theme parks. These theme parks are family-focused attractions, and offer a variety of entertainment options – from Bollywood, to Lego, to the fast-paced rides of IMG. While the kids are delighted to explore the new rides, meeting movie characters, and enjoying the many surprises, the adults enjoy the euphoric atmosphere, and family togetherness.
Such attractions are bound to excite both visitors to the region as well as the residents. However, with the increasing choices and the drop in the initial excitement, not all brands will continue to gain. Thus, the task at hand of the marketers, especially to engage with the residents, will be to sustain long-term interest. Steps in this direction would be to target entire families, not just kids; offer attractive customized promotions and packages; and continue to offer incremental attractions and experiences each and every time.
A gamified engagement plan with an immersive story, where the experience to the theme park starts and continues even outside the theme park will definitely help in augmenting the overall experience.
MediAvataar: Another addition in the kids’ market, are the many concept stores especially designed for kids? Do you think they work to get their parents spend the money?
Pratibha: The UAE is an interesting market. The exposure of kids to high-end designer brands starts at a very young age, and is mostly driven by the fashion and style conscious parents. Parents want to see their children dress well, and the children thus, are also becoming increasingly brand-conscious.
But, as the market is evolving, and newer multi-brand stores are getting launched, the focus has to be beyond just merchandise, it has to be on delivering new and unique experiences. Once such area is – Shopping and Storytelling. Kids love stories, and shopping and storytelling offers immense possibilities in creating unique immersive experiences.
Concept stores which are able to gain the ‘pull’ from the kids through such experiences, will definitely have an advantage.
MediAvataar: What would be your advice for the marketers who are looking at engaging with those kids out there?
Pratibha: To engage with kids, marketers need to speak their language, in ways they connect with. It sounds simple, but is a very challenging task. This generation is an ever-evolving one, and to be on top of the latest in their world, one needs to completely and continuously immerse in it.
MediAvataar: What key trends have you identified for this segment?
Pratibha: Here are 5 key trends which I think marketers should definitely keep in mind when engaging with children:
1. Offer digital, multi-screen engagement. These kids are digital natives, and the older ones multitask across four to five screens daily. Interestingly, the kids are able to seamlessly integrate the content across multiple screens and weave it into one complete story. We have clearly seen how such engagement has helped Toy brands become successful entertainment brands.
2. Be family centric. The kids of this generation are close to their families, family time is important and both parents and kids, look forward to family moments and experiences more than ever. Sibling fondness is another aspect that marketers can focus on, something that has not been given much credit in the past.
3. Offer Immersive, fresh experiences. Kids get bored easily, they need be constantly stimulated with something new and experiential. Marketers thus need to constantly innovate and engage kids with new and innovative sensory experiences.
4. Let them ‘create’. This is the generation of creators, they have an entrepreneurial spirit. Products and engagement tactics that value the creator in them, will definitely be more successful. From building and construction toys, to digital games that allow them to ‘build and master’, to creating original ‘content’ in their areas of interest, they love it all. Give them the power to ‘create’.
5. Support ‘global causes’ and be a responsible brand. These kids value the environment, and have begun to understand the individual’s responsibility in bringing change to the world. Multiple lessons in environmental sustainability at school and the overall focus on global causes, has helped them absorb this value as a young age. Marketers that support this value will definitely register with the current generation of kids and also help them be ethical and responsible.