Pick mine!

There is an interesting new study from the University of Pennsylvania regarding marketing and kids. They had children ages 4 to 6 “taste test” a healthy cereal that was served in boxes labeled “Healthy Bits” or “Sugar Bits”. They also tried both names with and without cartoon characters on the box, but it was always the same cereal. It’s no news to anyone with young children that the packaging influences what they want in the store (just watch the tantrums being thrown in the cereal aisle) but the study found that the kids actually believe the cereals with the characters on the boxes TASTE better. Now that’s effective marketing – or brainwashing – take your pick. Without the characters they rated the Healthy Bits better than Sugar Bits, I would guess due to prevalence of “healthy food” marketing, but a good result nonetheless.
This got me thinking about why manufacturers pick certain designs (instead of ours…) and how you may want to view what this business is really about. One of my short definitions of what we do in art licensing goes something like this: we try to convince manufacturers that their product will sell better with our design on it rather than someone else’s design, or worse with no design at all.
Sure we would like to think there is a lot more subtle nuance to our industry, and sometimes there is, but that’s pretty much the bottom line. You can certainly work upward from there, but try not to lose sight of what really drives your customer’s business.

Looking down the road…

Sorry to have gone missing, but we have given new definition to the phrase “crazy busy” over the last few weeks. We have moved the contents of an office, a house and also dealt with the passing of my father and everything that goes along with that – all in the last month or so – and of course the Two Town biz has continued to cruise merrily along as well. Every once in a while we have had to remind ourselves to stop and breathe… thankfully life is starting to settle down a little bit.
Another excellent post from Seth Godin today called “Bring Me The Stuff That’s Dead”, you can read it here. He points out that the first of the early adopters rarely do anything of consequence with the new…whatever…and the real quality work comes later. In our world, this meshes rather well with our advice of not chasing trends – it’s good to be aware of them but the effort of trying to be the first at everything will generally exclude you from any possibility of doing quality work. A quote from the post:
“I love to hear about the next big thing, but I’m far more interested in what you’re doing with the old big thing.”
Maybe not as much fun but far more likely to be a viable effort in a “product driven” business like ours.
A new report from research company The NPD Group (called Kids Leisure Time IV) states that face to face communication is dropping among kids as they get older. Face time drops from 17.5 hours per week for 2 to 4 year olds down to 10.8 hours per week for 9 to 12 year olds. Per week. Am I the only one that finds that to be a scary number, not to mention a scary trend? It has been no secret that person to person socialization among kids is being replaced by online networks, cell phones and video chats, but they go on to report that kids still have the same amount of leisure time, about 68 hours a week. Meaning they still have the time but significantly less of it is being spent in the company of their siblings and peers. So here’s something to ponder: what will that mean for the gift industry, or partyware, or crafts, etc. a few years down the road as these kids become our principal consumers?