New report highlights a greater need for diversity and inclusivity across toys and games

Family-focused marketing agency Kids Industries (Ki) has launched a new report today exploring the concept of diversity and inclusion amongst children and their parents – and what this looks like in the toys and games that they engage with.

The survey – carried out across 2,001 parents of children (aged 5-15) in the UK and USA – paints a picture of rising concerns among parents over screen time, yet also acknowledges how they appreciate the benefits of digital play. There is however a desire from parents for more inclusive toy and gaming attributes.

When it comes to the toys their children play with, parents are looking for skills support the most

What parents notice: Parents would like more opportunities to play as a family (38 per cent) and 35 per cent would like to see toys that focus on imagination. Another important observation was that parents are looking for toys made from materials that are better for the planet (33 per cent).

Key issue: Parents are busy people and 21 per cent say that they struggle to always find the time to play, watch, or do things with their child that they enjoy (rising to 27 per cent amongst US parents; 16 per cent in the UK). With that in mind, parents are keen to support their children’s skills development and 40 percent would like to see more toys that help with traditional education, such as maths, and the same number would like more toys that help with ‘soft’ education such as problem solving.

Moving forwards: In terms of representation, parents would like to see no differentiation between “girl” and “boy” toys (22 per cent) and an increase in positive role models (37 per cent).

More ethnically diverse toys were a desire for 22 per cent and 17 per cent wanted to see better disability representation. Better LGBTQ+ representation sat at nine per cent.

Parents want to be involved in children’s video games

What parents notice: 46 per cent of all parents feel that screen-based play is good for their children’s development (42 per cent of UK parents versus 49 per cent of US parents). 57 per cent of parents also recognise that digital play is relaxing for their child and 56 per cent say that it puts them in a good mood (rising to 62 per cent amongst US parents – UK sits at 51 per cent). They also feel that digital play expands the things their children are able to see and do (56 per cent). 52 per cent felt that it enables their children to be more creative or imaginative also.

Key issue: Over four out of five parents (84 per cent) feel that their children spend too much time in front of screens – consistent across all ages (5-7 – 83 per cent; 8-11 – 85 per cent; 12-15 – 84 per cent). They’re also concerned that screen-based play leads to less socialisation (42 per cent) and feel that it limits the things their children can see or do (17 per cent).

Moving forwards: Parents would like more opportunities to play as a family (37 per cent – 39 per cent in the US and 35 per cent in the UK) and 31 per cent are keen to see new and innovative ways to play and interact.

Again, there’s a strong desire among parents for more positive role models in the games their children play (41 per cent) along with support for games that provide soft’ education such as problem solving (37 per cent) and traditional education such as maths skills (31 per cent).

Having games that include better disability representation is of interest to 18 per cent of parents and 11 per cent would like to see better LGBTQ+ representation.

Gary Pope, CEO and Co-Founder at Kids Industries and Children’s Commissioner for Products of Change, commented: “Play underpins everything that our children will become – it is as Maria Montessori said: ‘The work of the child.’

“Our research indicates that 67 per cent of parents feel their children’s schools are good or excellent when it comes to their diversity and inclusion policies and approaches which shows there is much more work to be done. We must listen to children and parent voices and ensure their needs and wants are reflected in the toys and games that they consume.

“Nothing is more important than protecting and promoting a child’s right to play and making those play experiences the very best that they can be is essential and something that the industry needs to give serious consideration.”

Ki appointed creative partner for Morph’s Epic Art Adventure

Family-focused marketing agency Kids Industries (Ki) has today announced that it is the creative partner for a major new initiative – Morph’s Epic Art Adventure in London, set to be the first accessible, step-free cultural event of its kind.

The launch event, which took place at The Museum of London earlier this week, announced the partnership between Whizz-Kidz, Wild in Art, and Aardman – the award-winning animation studio and creator of the childhood-favourite and much-loved animated character, Morph.

The spectacular public art trail and tourist attraction will see up to 70 super-sized sculptures of Morph take over the streets of central London in summer 2023. The step-free family-friendly art trail of colourful Morphs will span iconic London landmarks including St Pauls, Tate Modern, the Tower of London, Shakespeare’s Globe and Borough Market.

Whizz-Kidz is embarking on this fun, fully accessible trail across London to raise awareness of the need for better access and inclusion for young wheelchair users, and to raise vital funds to support their work.

The money raised will enable the charity to provide life-changing wheelchairs and confidence-building opportunities for young wheelchair users in the capital and across the UK. The Morph sculptures will be canvases for conversations about diversity and inclusion for wheelchair users.

Each of the 70 Morph sculptures stands at 6ft tall and will be adorned with bespoke designs from a range of artists, supported by sponsors including Sky, Barratt Developments, EY, Kids Industries, Evenbreak, and Govia Thameslink Railway Ltd. Once the trail has closed, each of the bespoke Morph sculptures will be auctioned with the aim of raising £500,000 for Whizz-Kidz.

A trail app, website, map, guidebook and dedicated social media channels will enable trail-goers to navigate the route, tracking down each sculpture and unlocking fun facts and rewards.

Sarah Pugh, chief executive of Whizz-Kidz, says: “We are delighted to launch Morph’s Epic Art Adventure in London. This accessible and fun trail will bring the London business community, creative artists, schools and families together in the summer of 2023. The awareness and money raised will have a huge legacy for young wheelchair users we support for years to come.”

“We are totally thrilled to be working with the excellent charity Whizz-Kidz on London’s first step-free art trail,” says Peter Lord, the co-founder of Aardman and creator of Morph. “I’m sure that local residents and visitors to London – young and old – will also be inspired to get creative and join Morph for an Epic Art Adventure.”

Gary Pope, CEO and Co-Founder at Ki, adds: We are super excited to support the important work Whizz-Kidz does as the official creative partner on such an important project – giving our time and resources to make this a huge success.

“The work that Whizz-Kidz does is incredible. Morph is incredible. London is incredible. Mashing the three together is pure genius – of course we wanted to be involved!

“One of our six immovable pillars of childhood, what we call the Super 6, is Diversity & Inclusion. As such, we are committed to equality in all its forms and to have the chance to play a small part in ensuring more children are able experience the epic-ness of London through a truly accessible epic adventure trail of Morphs is something our whole team stands behind.”

THE BIG INTERVIEW: Gary Pope on 20 years of KI

Family marketing agency KI (Kids Industries) celebrated its 20th birthday last week, commemorating the occasion with the launch of a new website, brand update and an October conference to look forward to. 

Licensing Biz sat down with industry stalwart Gary Pope, KI’s CEO and co-founder, to take stock of key moments in the family and licensing space, and discover what he still loves about this industry…

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First off, Gary, congratulations on marking 20 years with KI – that’s no small feat!

Thank you, that’s very kind. It’s not always been easy but then if it was, it wouldn’t be quite so much fun.

When Jen and I started KI, we weren’t quite sure of the direction we wanted to go in – but we were absolutely certain that we wanted to make good things for families. Between us, we had backgrounds in education, developing experiences, marketing and change management, and we knew we needed to create something bigger than a business with a single focus. We wanted to apply our skills and do it in the commercial realms of the family market.

We actually worked with headteachers and behavioural psychologists in our very early days to develop our core approach to our work – 4ft Thinking™. It’s our way of seeing the world through the eyes of a child using science – biology, psychology and sociology – to define a bedrock of fact from which we can then build a solution to solve a client’s problem.

Given the successes you’ve had, you must have had a number of approaches to sell the business?

Funny how this is what people think you want to do! Build it and sell it. That’s not us. Not yet anyway. We love what we do and wouldn’t want to be part of something else and be told what was what. I’d struggle with that as our culture is so important to us. We’ve been approached a lot. We make a good story. Typically, interested parties want us to focus on a particular aspect of the business, but we aren’t one thing – we have a unique set of services which are all underpinned by insight and a deep understanding of the consumer. We don’t know anyone else that provides that full 360-degree offering. And whilst that might not be the way traditional businesses are structured, it is how we do things. And the clients that really understand that about us, really benefit. There is a lot of value in KI – our client list, the order book, proprietary approaches and most importantly, our knowledge. And that is about our people. You can’t sell that.

What are you most proud of achieving?

Goodness, that’s actually quite hard… We’ve done some great things. We have helped to build hotels, redeveloped the future of the McDonalds Happy Meal, created SVOD Platforms, the family experience for Royal Caribbean Cruises… There’s loads of things we’ve done that I would never have had the chance to if Jen and I hadn’t started on this journey 20 years ago. And all of them make me very proud and grateful for the opportunities we’ve had.

In terms of campaigns, our work for Amazon Kids+ stands out. We launched their first national multiple IP marketing campaign ‘Feed their hungry minds’. Our objective was to drive awareness of the all-you-can-eat secure content service, providing unlimited access to thousands of child-friendly books, movies, TV shows, apps and games. The bit I am especially proud of is how we managed to get 16 brands involved in the campaign, from Horrid Henry, Harry Potter and Peppa Pig, to Bing, Hot Wheels, the Gruffalo and more – I don’t know of any other campaign that’s managed to do that. But to be honest that’s all about the collegiate nature of the licensing industry. Or maybe it was the work we did to develop and market the proposition for Aquafresh toothpastes, too – we took the brand from eight to 63 per cent share in just three years.

Above all, though, I’m most proud of building our team with Raj, Jelena and Jen. The four of us have worked hard on our business and our business is about how good our team is. We’re experts. And if a new member of the team is not an expert in Kids and Family when they arrive, we’ve got a pretty robust learning programme that makes sure they’re right up to speed.

Are there any campaigns out there that you wish you’d come up with?

I’m a huge admirer of what Magic Light has done with The Gruffalo – a truly brilliant multi-faceted masterclass in brand management that will ensure the brand is rightly future-proofed. How they have worked with licensees to authentically translate the characters into product – especially plush and toys – has been impressive. We actually own the full set of plush in our house.

There have been some major changes in the industry over the past 20 years. What stands out to you?

Firstly, the realisation that insight is a necessity. When we began it really was only the big players that understood the insight (or had the budgets for it). The days of wild west ‘going with your gut’ product development and marketing is over. There is now a very healthy attitude towards the value insight brings and how it enables us to immerse ourselves in another person’s world. It means we can use the informed knowledge to create life-fulfilling experiences for others – invaluable!

Secondly, I’d say the quality of the products the industry is selling has changed, for the better. The consumer has got more savvy, producers too, and our industry’s ability to rethink and regenerate is truly impressive. The days of label-slapping are in their sunset.

Finally, I’d have to say the environment that the consumer lives in has changed considerably. Twenty years ago TV was everything, and with 28 channels, the UK had the largest number in the world. We thought that was tough then. Today, access is unlimited and linear television is no longer a thing. The licensing sector has had to work hard to better understand the changing landscape and some have embraced the fact that eyeballs are what’s needed and it doesn’t matter where you get them.

What do you still love about the licensing industry?

We have the nicest, tightest and most supportive sector – truly. It’s a hugely collegiate industry and super embracing. I think it’s because it’s so bright, colourful, glamorous and filled with great creatives all wanting to please their audiences. This is especially true in the toy/family market.

Finally Gary, what’s going to be big in the next 20 years?

With my Children’s Commissioner for Products of Change hat on, it has to be said that we must get better at producing sustainable products – especially in the toy sector. Our own research shows that nearly half (48 per cent) of UK parents want to see products that are easier to recycle, and 45 per cent want cheaper sustainable product options. Having products that are easier to refurbish or fix appeals too, to 37 per cent of UK parents.

That said, times are really tough. The rising cost of living is having a huge impact on families and parents need to cut costs where they can. The trend of buying second-hand items will continue and manufacturers need to consider that in their plans. We need to put people before profit and find new ways of design and engineering products, at a price point that works for everyone.


Kids Industries to reveal new research on sustainability at Brand Licensing Europe

Family-focused marketing agency Kids Industries (KI) is launching a new report today at Brand Licensing Europe (BLE) exploring the relationship children and their parents have with the environment.

Hot on the heels of COP26 and the announcement that Government is planning to change the primary curriculum to include climate change science and sustainability studies, the survey of 2,001 children and parents in the UK and US shines a light on current perceptions today and what families would like to see change.

It showed that the current understanding of climate concerns and topics is limited:

  • 65 percent of children aged 5-15 do not know what ‘sustainability’ means – this includes 80 percent of 5–7-year-olds and 50 percent of 12-15 year olds
  • 65 percent of children aged 5-15 do not know what ‘sustainability’ means – this includes 80 percent of 5–7-year-olds and 50 percent of 12-15 year olds
  • 87 percent of UK children don’t know what ‘greenwashing’ means
  • 86 percent don’t understand the term ‘bioplastic’
  • 42 percent of UK children are confused about environmental issues (this confusion reduces with age) – this rises to 53 percent amongst US children

Children do think the environment is important: 

While 63 percent of UK children (67 percent in the US) aged 5-15 believe our impact on the environment and wildlife is the most important issue we face today, the specifics vary by country.

In the UK, they are:

  1. Plastic waste (53 percent)
  2. Climate change (50 percent)

In the US, they are:

  1. Pollution (41 percent)
  2. Saving endangered species (39 percent)

Children are trying to do their part – even if it is small: 

  • 94 percent of UK children (92 percent US) have done something for the environment, most commonly recycling (63 percent UK, 36 percent US).
  • 83 percent of UK and US children US agree everyone can be environmentally friendly if they try hard enough.
  • 70 percent of UK children (76 percent US) agree it is important to them that their lifestyle is more environmentally friendly.
  • 69 percent of UK children (77 percent US) would do more for the environment if they had more time and money.

The circular economy and product reuse, recycle, repurpose

 It’s clear that plastic is still king, but planet-friendly toy options are catching up.

Plastic toys were the most popular toy category purchased in the past 12 months by UK parents (40 percent) and US parents (52 percent), followed by second-hand toys in the UK (37 percent) and wooden toys in the US (38 percent)

In the US, plastic toys are also the most frequently bought (32 percent) but in the UK, more parents buy second hand (25 percent) over plastic (22 percent).

What happens when toys outlive their use:

  • Thrown away and heading to landfill (14 percent UK/16 percent US)
  • Given to charity (32 percent UK/26 percent US)

Interestingly, 25 percent of UK parents said that they had bought a ‘sustainable’ toy in the past year (rising to 37 percent of US parents).

 What next? 

Parents want to see…

  1. Products that are easier to recycle (48 percent UK/41 percent of US)
  2. Cheaper sustainable product options (45 percent UK/32 percent US)
  3. Products that are easier to refurbish or fix (37 percent UK/35 percent US parents).

Gary Pope, CEO and Co-Founder at Kids Industries and Children’s Commissioner for Products of Change, commented: “The introduction of a new environment-based curriculum couldn’t come at a better time. Children need supporting in their knowledge of the issues at hand and what they can do to make a difference – never underestimate the power of collective responsibility. That said, parents don’t want more information, they want it to be easier and they’re looking for companies that can facilitate this.

“The demand for new solutions from children and their parents is evident – and just as recycling is at the forefront of children’s minds, it’s playing on their parents thinking, too, and best of all, it’s the easiest solution. There’s now a genuine desire too for toys that are produced more sustainably – a consciousness to see less waste. The toy industry has a responsibility to review these figures and adjust accordingly. The time to take action and listen to wants and desires in these areas is now.”

Meet Gary Pope at the BLE Sustainability Activation 17-19 November, ExCeL London. He is also presenting in the Retail Trends Lounge at 10am on Friday 19 November, which is accessible to retailers and press badge holders.


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When Geek Culture went Pop! | Kids Industries on how we’ve all adopted the geek market (without even realising)

Aleksandra Szczerba, researcher at Kids Industries, explores the ubiquity of geek culture today, and the very real chance that if you’re reading this, you’ve long since become one.

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No longer constrained by the four walls of a dimly-lit basement or the stacks of a comic book store. No longer only openly revered by social outcasts (and covertly by everyone else in fear of being shunned). So-called “geek culture” is – in many ways – no more. Or at least it has evolved to be something vastly different than it has been in the past. The cornerstones of geek culture of decades gone by, from sci-fi to comic books, from video games to anime, don’t just have their footholds in the mainstream. They have become the mainstream, permeating today’s biggest children’s and adult media trends alike. So how have we all become geeks, how did this happen, and what does it mean for the future?

The most obvious way in which geek culture has become a staple in pop culture is of course through screen adaptations of comic books, both feature film and television. Although one would think that DC had the head start, having the rights to iconic characters such as Superman and Batman, it is Marvel that took the movie industry by storm in the past decade. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, comprising more than 20 films and dozens of characters, became a set of interwoven narratives and franchises, brought together in a grand finale in the form of the highest-grossing movie spectacular of all time (at the time at least). “Avengers: Endgame” earned $2.798B at the global box office, and is now the second highest grossing movie of all time, after being narrowly dethroned by the re-release of James Cameron’s “Avatar”. Notably, it is not the only Marvel film people around the world saw in droves: “Avengers: Infinity War” is fifth in terms of box office earnings, and the first “The Avengers” movie ranks 8th. The dollar signs speak for themselves – it’s not just geeks who are all over superheroes today.

Although “Endgame” brought a sense of finality to the MCU, Marvel is not slowing down – it was only the end of Phase 3, and we are already well into Phase 4 with the release of “Black Widow” and the many streaming titles being released on Disney+. Each series is dedicated to developing fan-favourite side characters, and these have been a hit for the platform, both in drawing in subscribers – and in drawing critical acclaim. The June release of “Loki” coincided with Disney+’s biggest increase in mobile app downloads among major streamers, with a 39% increase in the week ending 27th June, and an 11% increase in streaming sessions, according to Bloomberg’s Apptopia data, and in general Disney+ is currently chipping away at Netflix’s dominance in the streaming space. It definitely takes a bit of a geek to want to watch a multi-episode series about a villain or a supporting character who didn’t get their own feature length movie, and clearly there is no shortage of those out there. They also come in all shapes and sizes – at KI we have interviewed children as young as 6 who report enjoying watching Marvel series with their parents.

To put it simply: superheroes are cool now. And it’s not just the MCU. The “DC Extended Universe” may not have taken off in the same way, but television’s “Arrowverse” definitely has its own very loyal following. Superhero movies and TV shows, like “Logan” or HBO’s “Watchmen”, have received prestigious accolades. Comic book brands are no longer “for kids” or “for geeks” – everyone knows these stories and characters, including their mother, father and brother. Once upon a time everyone knew that Superman was the super strong guy, now everyone has an opinion on where they stand in the Captain America vs Iron Man conflict in “Civil War”. There is something for everyone in comic book stories, from a bit of good old fashioned fisticuffs, in-depth character conflict, to comedy and teenage high school hijinks. Many of today’s superhero stories are also more diverse and more relatable; everyone is bound to find a type of superhero they can enjoy.

To an extent the appeal of comic book movies also translates to other expressions of fandom. Parts of the “geek” industry have seen growth, from collectable merchandise like Funko POP! action figures (Funko reports growth every year and quarter, with the POP! line specifically most recently seeing growth of 33% in US and Europe in the first quarter of 2021), to events (the San Diego Comic Con attracts upwards of 130 thousand attendees every year). Similarly, one would expect this to translate to comic books – and many in the industry do cite MCU’s success as the reason for the U-turn in the decline in comic sales post-1993 (i.e. when the comic book bubble burst – but that’s a story for another day). In the 2010s, comic book sales in the US alone crossed the $1 billion mark in 2015, and grew to a $1.2 billion peak in 2019. However according to retailers the ‘movie-lover-to-comic-reader’ conversion is difficult, and hasn’t been all that successful. Yes, more people come into stores and give comics a try, but they also stick to content that is as close to the adaptation as possible. The industry has seen boosts and has seen increased sales related directly to trending storylines or characters – but the bottom line is this: we might collectively be comic book movie geeks, but we’re not quite comic book geeks (yet).

Similarly to superheroes, once upon a time interest in anime and manga may have been limited to people known as “otakus” or “weebs”, but in the year 2021 things could not be more different once again. The anime industry is worth over $20 billion today, with overseas markets accounting for half of the Japanese animation industry’s profits according to the Association of Japanese Animations. In 2019 the industry reached an all time high of $24 billion, with the overseas market valued at around $11 billion – a 19% increase on 2018, and almost a fivefold increase from 2009. These numbers include everything from animation itself (TV and film), to music, and merchandise, with the latter alone being worth over $5.2 billion globally. The dollar signs don’t lie – they’re all pointing East. Not only are we geeks, we’re also otakus.

Data from various streaming services further backs up the data on anime’s growth. According to the specialist anime streamer Crunchyroll’s data, a whopping 8 in 10 people today watch anime, and the platform has felt this. During last year’s Festival of Licensing the platform boasted of nine consecutive years of record sales (the site doesn’t just offer anime, but also manga and merchandise), and in February 2021 the site had hit 4 million paying subscribers, alongside over 100 million registered users, having grown its paid memberships by 33% in the space of just six months. In December 2020 news emerged regarding a possible monumental merger worth almost $1.2 billion in which Crunchyroll would be acquired by another anime giant: Sony’s Funimation. The deal is still up in the air, but if the deal goes through, it will lead to the creation of a veritable anime giant.

Anime isn’t just something found on niche platforms however; regular mainstream players recognise the power of anime too. In 2020 Netflix reported that more than 100 million households across the globe had watched at least one anime title on the platform between January and September, an increase by 50% from the year before, and that anime titles had appeared in top 10 lists in nearly 100 countries. The company has a Tokyo-based team dedicated to anime production and is regularly producing new content as well as acquiring new titles. Just as an example, earlier this year they released a well-received two-part Sailor Moon movie “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Eternal”, and August will see the release of “The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf”, an anime prequel to the live-action fantasy “The Witcher” series based on the Polish hit-books-turned-hit-video-games (now how’s that for layers of geekiness?)

Of course, the best known titles today are still the likes of Pokémon, Naruto, Studio Ghibli movies, but people are broadening their horizons. This exploration does not end with animation – manga sales were at an all time record high in 2020. Based on NPD’s BookScan data, across the 20 top selling adult graphic novels in the US in October 2020, 17 were manga titles. One of the biggest hits of today took the top three spots: My Hero Academia, a shōnen superhero-themed series popular with teenagers. This year an ever hotter commodity is the supernatural series Jujutsu Kaisen, particularly following the release of its anime adaptation; as of May this year it has 50 million copies in circulation, it has had successful brand collaborations including Uniqlo, and has topped the list of Japan’s most lucrative franchises of 2021 so far.

Anime and manga are popular enough in the English-speaking world that an element of fandom never previously accessible to these audiences is finally being opened up to them as well. This summer, for the first time ever, stage adaptations of popular anime will be streamed online with English subtitles for non-Japanese speaking audiences. These musical stage productions, also known as “2.5 dimensional musicals”, are a big part of manga, anime and video game fandom in Japan, but overseas audiences haven’t been able to engage with them officially until now. In August musical adaptations of Naruto, Sailor Moon and My Hero Academia will be streaming as part of a special online theatre event.

Geek culture has undoubtedly morphed and evolved over time, and the 21st century has seen it become – for all intents and purposes – pop culture, with previously “geek” franchises and fandoms becoming your standard, everyday, blockbuster fare. How “geek” evolves from this point on, we are yet to see – but it is definitely here to stay. It has made its place in the media landscape and it is seeping into trends everywhere. Geek franchises have bastions of fans, and they’re primed and ready to discover new titles and brands that align with their tastes. It is official: we have all become geeks (probably without even realising it).

Value Added Tact | The importance of meeting the sensibilities of ‘kids these days’

From Generation Z to Generation Alpha, audiences’ tastes and preferences are ever changing, from awareness of social responsibilities to greater demand for sustainability. Co-founder of Kids Industries, Gary Pope explores the importance of authenticity when meeting today’s youth and their new consumer values

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My favourite game when I was a kid was Buckaroo. The tension, chaos and hysterical laughter caused by a few bits of plastic pulled from a cardboard box kept me happy for hours. If only the youth of today was still that easily pleased, product development and marketing teams would be laughing all the way to the bank.

But they’re not. Far from it. Culturally, societally, we are in a state of flux. So many things are happening that were unthinkable five years ago, all of which are impacting our purchasing decisions. As a result, young people have become increasingly sophisticated consumers, politically savvy, environmentally aware, far more emancipated, and very, very vocal and demanding of the brands they invest time and money in.

They curate rather than collect. The label in itself is no longer enough. They want to know where, how and with what products have been made. They have an incredible understanding of the supply chain; are the workers treated fairly and paid a living wage, is the factory run on wind power, is it safe?

They are increasingly invested in making purchasing decisions that are driven by value and the impact they will have on the planet, rather than by consumption.

“Most of all, they want authenticity; they want to buy from brands that genuinely share their values and are honest and transparent about contributing towards a fairer society.”

Value no longer means cheap, it means quality, longevity, considered and conscious. They understand the importance of sustainability, the circular economy, diversity and humanity. They want to see products  representing all of us, and not just a limited few. Charity shopping and reselling toys and games on eBay are seen as badges of honour, rather than a shameful blot on their social status.

But most of all, they want authenticity; they want to buy from brands that genuinely share their values and are honest and transparent about contributing towards a fairer society and the future of our planet. What they don’t want, is box tickers.

And they know some or all of this at a really young age. Even Generation Alpha (2012-2025) is aware. They  feel strongly about consumer issues, they just don’t have the maturity to decode them or the disposable income to directly influence them. Gen Z (1996-2011) has the powerful  combination of a more sophisticated awareness and their own money, so they can choose to spend – or not – on the brands whose credentials are most important to them.

The way young people relate to media has also changed massively. They are no longer passive consumers; they are active participants. They want to be immersed in interactive, engaging content that adds value to their experiences and fulfills a basic social need. They don’t do one-dimensional.

When it comes to gaming, this means Roblox and Fortnite – games that double up as social platforms; places where they can meet friends, show off, have a voice and be heard, recognised and rewarded. Socialisation is critical to child/youth development, and this is more important than ever given how much face-to-face contact has been eradicated by the pandemic.

Unsurprisingly, Roblox was the most popular mobile  game in the US last year, with users averaging 100 minutes play per day, and the company had a first day valuation of  $38.3 billion when it went public. Equally unsurprisingly, the notion of the metaverse (which is being coined by some as the real future of the internet and the next era of social media) is incredibly powerful to our digital natives and the brands hoping to reach them.

So, two huge things for brands to get right when it comes to R&D and marketing to young people moving forward – both of which I believe will become non-negotiable before long: consciously authentic values and actions, and the integration of social. Nail that, and you’ve got the  equivalent of Buckaroo for the next generation.

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Gary Pope (CEO & Co-Founder, Kids Industries) will be discussing ‘How Priorities are Changing Across Generations of Consumer at Brand & Licensing Innovation Summit, which runs online 9-11 June. Passes are available from

Kids Industries and WWF rally for final Webby Awards push as voting closes today

The final hours of voting for this year’s Webby Awards are now upon us, and so too are the chances to see the UK’s own Kids Industries storm the charts and take home the Family and Kids award for its collaboration on the popular WWF app.

The app, called Amazing Planet and developed to help educate children about the world they live in, is one of five shortlisted children and family-geared applications and features alongside the likes of The Cat in the Hat Invents kids’ app developed in partnership with Dr Seuss, the PBS Kids Video app, and Duolingo ABC.

Kids Industries has been involved in the development of the WWF app, Amazing Planet, one that utilises technology to help children learn about the environment and the world around them. From an AR map that is regularly updated with the weather, temperature, and animal species living across the globe, to information packs with activities and AR stickers that bring scaled down versions of the Earth’s creatures to the palm of your hand, the WWF app calls itself ‘no ordinary subscription product.’

WWF is one of the world’s largest independent conservation organisations, active in nearly 100 countries. Its supporters – more than five million globally – are helping the organisation to restore nature and to tackle the main causes of nature’s decline, particularly the food system and climate change.

“We want a world with thriving habitats and species, and we want to change hearts and minds so it becomes unacceptable to overuse our planet’s resources,” reads a description included within the finalist’s bio Webby Awards bio.

Voting for this year’s Webby Awards will close today, May 6th and winners will be revealed on May 18th this year.

Kids Industries is encouraging anyone considering voting to do so here:

“The natural world is really important to preserve and we think this product is a great way to share this motive with younger generations,” said the team.

Kids Industries joins forces with teams in France, Germany, and Spain to create The League

The family-focused marketing agency, Kids Industries, has joined forces with like-minded agencies in France, Germany, and Spain to create The League, a European industry network with the goal of offering international research and surveys, as well as brand strategy and design to companies across the globe.

The League currently consists of Kids Industries (UK), Com des Enfants (France), KB&B (Germany) and The Modern Kids & Family (Spain) with plans to bring on additional agencies through 2021. 

“The League means we can exchange insights and opinions across borders to the benefit of all five agencies, and share that insight with clients in FMCG, gaming, entertainment, not for profit and travel,” said KI CEO and co-founder Gary Pope. 

“But more importantly, it means we can harness our collective agency power to activate European-wide brand campaigns for clients and call on recommend trusted local partners with whom we share a core vision and values when our clients want to expand into new markets. This move is part of our ambitious growth plan for KI in 2021 and beyond.”

This week also sees The League release the results of its first collaborative insight piece: a survey of 771 parents across the UK and FIGS for a deep dive into Family Life in Europe, shining a light on the differences and commonalities in family life across the continent.

“The report shows there are marked differences in children’s and parents’ preferences from one to country to the next, which supports our ethos that our thinking about marketing to children and families should be equally differentiated, continued Pope.

“That’s what we stand for with The League, and that’s why we have all come together to create this valuable agency network.”

European Family Life insight 

The research has uncovered a number of home truths about family time across the European markets, including how shared time is spent in different territories. German and French families, it was found, spend the majority of their shared time together at dinner (86 per cent and 63 per cent, respectively), while Brits spend the biggest chunk of their shared family time watching movies on TV (81 per cent).

In Spain (79 per cent) and Italy (65 per cent), family outings come top. 

 Shopping behaviour

There are two distinct camps when it comes to the origin of children’s shopping preference. Respondents in Spain (34 per cent), France (32 per cent) and the UK (28 per cent) think children are most strongly influenced by their parents, while in Germany (33 per cent) and Italy (26 per cent), respondents say children are most influenced by their friends. 

 Parental priorities

According to The League’s inaugural report, more than half of Germans (57 per cent) regard sustainability as important when it comes to products for children, pipping educational value (46 per cent). In all other countries Spain (62 per cent), Italy (49 per cent), France (43 per cent), and the UK (43 per cent) , the product’s educational value is the top priority.

 Shopping behaviour by market: what parents know, and children love 

For about half of purchases (57 per cent in Spain, 58 per cent in France, 55 per cent in Italy and Germany), parents’ personal experience and preferences drive the decision making. That doesn’t mean children’s preferences are being overlooked as the second most common response was “I buy things I know my child loves.” 

In the UK, however, (52 per cent) of product purchases are based on the child’s preference. 

 Child’s say

Children have the most say about toys, clothes and stationery. These are often linked to characters and stories they have seen in books, on TV and in films.  

Children’s participation in making purchase-decisions is strongest when it comes to toys – especially in Germany, where they are involved in 82 per cent of such decisions (the highest international percentage).  

Buying clothes comes in second place (70 per cent), followed by stationery (56 per cent). Across all markets, more than one in three children are attracted by character licensing. In the UK it’s 45 per cent, 43 per cent in Italy, 42 per cent in Spain, 35 per cent in Germany and 33 per cent in France.  

 For more information about The League, visit

Kids Industries and WWF-UK win Best Branded Learning App at 2021 Kidscreen Awards

The family-oriented marketing agency, Kids Industries has scooped Best Branded Learning App in the digital category at the 2021 Kidscreen Awards for the Amazing Planet app, developed in partnership with the conservation charity WWF-UK.

A high-profile celebration of children’s content excellence, the Kidscreen Awards pay tribute to outstanding kids and families’ TV and digital media work from around the world.

Gary Pope, co-founder and CEO at Kids Industries, said: “The win is testament to the creativity and dedication that the KI team applies – from the initial brief of creating a new subscription product for seven to 11 year-olds that promotes sustainability, through to retaining a fun, exciting and engaging experience.

“We are thrilled that our work has been recognised for its innovation and creativity. I’m incredibly proud of our amazing team – they continue to push boundaries and create engaging experiences which are fun and educational. The work with WWF involved research with 40 families and included prototyping, testing, business modelling, as well as product design, content creation and, ultimately, the app’s launch.”

Amazing Planet is a subscription product like no other, combining both physical and digital elements in an app. Opportunities for interaction and engagement include monthly collectable augmented reality (AR) animals, fresh AR content added to the physical map each month, updates to the newsfeed each week to keep children coming back, engaging content including videos, images, sounds, quizzes and polls, and the ability to react to content with WWF emojis – providing a sense of community.

Pope added: “Amazing Planet takes children on an exciting round-the-world adventure, whilst giving them an opportunity to learn about the weird and wonderful things that make planet Earth so special.

“The current daily user engagement in the app averages more than five minutes per session. Kids spend most of their time engaging with the compelling augmented reality content, and they also love leaving specifically-designed WWF emoji reactions on their favourite posts.”

Katie Dogra, head of supporter engagement at WWF, said: “Young people are the ambassadors of the future and we hope that Amazing Planet will inspire a life-long passion for nature and wildlife, creating future advocates and change-makers that will join us and fight for our world.”

Children’s marketing rivals launch new podcast series Kids Market Insight in industry first

For the first time in their respective careers, industry experts specialising in marketing to kids have joined forces to launch a new podcast called Kids Market Insight.

Co-hosted by Kids Industries CEO and co-founder, Gary Pope, managing director of Sherbert Research, Nicki Karet, and chief strategy officer at KidsKnowBest, Peter Robinson, the podcast – marking a coming together of would-be ‘industry rivals’ – kicks off today (Friday, February 5th).

The first in a series of monthly podcasts will hear the three industry experts analysing their favourite kids’ TV shows, and will focus on a different theme each month, taking a deep dive look at the key issues involved in making great product for kids and how to successfully market them.

In a joint statement the trio said: “As industry rivals we’re thoroughly enjoying collaborating and sharing our passion for great kids products and insights into what makes each of them work so well. The podcast presents an opportunity to celebrate the brilliant work of makers and creators in the kids space and the magic they deliver for this audience.

“We all bring decades of experience to the mix, but add our own take and agency perspective – collectively providing a wealth of research, marketing and digital experience.

“Our first session was a riot – we focused on our favourite children’s TV show, why we felt connected to it and identified its key success factors from our point of view as kids and industry experts. There was a heated (but very funny) debate over which show we ultimately voted for as the best. Some may even say we got a little competitive. But that just makes it an even better listen!”

Each 30-minute episode in the recurring series will feature a different topic and will also include guest participants over time. New episodes will be released on a monthly basis with the following topics on the cards for the next three months:

  • Board games
  • Family Experiences
  • Childhood Heroes

Access to the Kids Market Insight podcast is available via Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other major podcast platform. Learn more about the podcast here.