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5 Top Tips When Marketing To Kids

Commonwealth Bank is promoting their Dollarmites brand to the super young.

“The program is delivered to educate schoolchildren about the importance of saving on a consistent basis and motivate them through a rewards program that encourages regular deposits.” Reports a CommBank spokesperson in this article.

By doing so, they introduce their brand to a new audience, build a relationship and hopefully foster enough loyalty from many of them, who eventually grow up too busy or motivated enough to make the switch to a competitor.

Todays ‘Dollarmites’ Addy, Lucas, Pru, and Spen 

Is marketing to kids all bad?

If their product is offering fantastic value to the customer in exchange, (and this post is not about the product) then there’s nothing unusual about this relationship marketing. Brands have been marketing to kids for years. It’s the world we live in. As consumers, we buy products, we want products, we need products, we’re looking for products. Marketers are filling a need and making sure it is their brand that is top of mind. If you’re lucky – a consumer will stay with you for life. Our recent market research in the ‘Billion Dollar Mum – What makes mums buy your products’ series reveals many of us, as adults, still purchase a brand or two because we ‘grew up with the brand/it’s what we’re familiar with’.

The Dollarmites team in 2000

Where did it all go wrong?

However – there’s a line here that as brand custodians, we need to respect. Marketing to any market – and in this instance kids, still needs to be above board. Otherwise, the consequence as Commonwealth Bank discovered, is the massive breach of trust. They had so much history in this space, generally positive brand sentiment and were marketing to the younger generation with a seemingly cool idea. Now there is a shadow lurking overhead that will serve as a timely reminder to other brands marketing to kids, to behave.

Can the Dollarmite reputation recover? It’s not impossible – it won’t be the first brand to go through a burst of awful press and come out the other side. But it is a costly process and takes up resources that could have gone to better use. The silver lining is that chances are it will give Commonwealth Bank the opportunity to improve Dollarmites as a whole and make it better for the consumer.

Yoplait’s ‘opt-in’ school sampling campaign….

Most recently, Yoplait Petit Miam ran an in-school sampling program as a way to market to kids, instigate product trials (which for FMCG brands really does drive sales) create brand familiarity and potentially activate pester power back home. Credit to them, parents had to give permission before their child was allowed to enjoy a freebie. The school issued a note fully outlining the sampling initiative. This was quite progressive from the days of promo staff handing out goodies to kids on every school corner. My, how they were the days! Yoplait’s transparency and ‘opt-in’ strategy was still contentious. While most parents were totally ok, there are still parents that want to control what branded content is being distributed to their children in the school yards.

Yoplait’s Petit Miam product range is marketed at children aged one year and up

So what can other marketers who promote products for kids, learn from the likes of Dollarmites and Yoplait?

Brands are going to find a way to reach kids. It’s going to happen. If it’s not by directly entering the school yards, there are many other ways. For starters, the kids themselves are the walking billboards. Any parent with a little too much slime or blue-tak on your carpet at the moment will know this. (It’s a thing – ask any school age child. Blue-tak, squishies and slime picked up where fidget spinners left off.)

Here are 5 Takeaway Tips

  • Get the parents on board – after all, they are the ones who ultimately pay for the product and will have a say in the purchasing decision. Engage with them, educate them and build a relationship with them too. Get to know what they want for their kids and what it will take for them to buy your products. Then deliver on that.
  • Be honest – your product doesn’t have to be the best in the world or be all things to all people to be successful so no need to pretend that it is. Aim to target a smaller piece of the pie that is a perfect fit for your brand and what it does have to offer.
  • Be extraordinary – over deliver if you want to stand out amongst your competitors and have a brand that is worthy of consumer recommendations and endorsement. Times are changing. Smaller players with outstanding product and service and brand advocacy will start to trump the leaders with deep pockets – or at the very least shake the category up enough to take notice.
  • Add value – if you’re entering the school grounds make it count and create an experience for the kids, the school and the parents that they will genuinely love and want to support, even if they know your purpose is to promote a product or service.
  • Follow the rules – keep an eye on marketing guidelines and restrictions and be sure to colour within the lines. It doesn’t mean you can’t use bright colours!


Christie Nicholas is the founder of Kids Business. Kids Business makes it easier for brands to sell to Mums and provides strategy, market research and campaign execution (PR, Influencer Marketing, Bloggers BrunchTM events, Sampling and Reviews).  

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