Market Research: High Tech Games Center of Toy Universe Kids Around the World Gravitate to High Ticket Items

While growing up isn’t always fun and games, recreation, entertainment, toys and games are a big part of kids’ lives around the world.

Kids are spending a good chunk of their income on entertainment related items. And they have a significant amount of purchase influence on vacations.

Kids ages 10-19 accounted for 25.7 percent of audio recording purchases, which totaled sales of $12.2 billion last year, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. Retail toy sales in the U.S. accounted for a record $22.58 billion last year, according to the Toy Manufacturers of America Inc.

As a whole, kids like the same types of recreational activities, according to recent research from 11 countries by Nickelodeon/Just Kid Inc. Global Kids Study, released exclusively to S2K. High Tech

The cost of entertaining children has gone up as they are choosing more high tech recreations. Kids are growing up faster than they were 10 or 20 years ago, says Laurie Klein, of Just Kid Inc. They are spending money on things like TVs, telephones, and video game systems. “They are asking for more sophisticated things,” says Klein. Board games are competing with cell phones, pagers and Walkmans.

Video game systems are owned by nearly half or more of all households except Germany and India. In Germany, hand held video game systems are owned by 48 percent of households.

Video and computer game sales in the US are projected to reach $6 billion this year, according to the Interactive Digital Software Association.

The number one video game in all countries in the Global Kids Study is Mario Brothers, except in the UK, where it is second behind Sonic the Hedge Hog.

“Video games in general are very popular because they tap into a universal need of kids around the world,” says Klein of what she calls a “universal play pattern.” In video games, kids are “mastering skills, accomplishing one thing and going on to the next level, everything childhood is about. It is an important emotional need to master and go into the next level.” Low tech

Going on vacation and playing outside are the top recreations kids ranked as their favorite, of 12 possible activities. Kids next favorite recreations are:

* Watching TV (37% global average)

* Going to a movie (37%)

* Listening to music (32%)

What kids list as their favorites, isn’t necessarily what they do. Kids say they’d rather go on vacation or play outside, yet they watch TV more frequently than they play outside. Nearly 80 percent or more of kids in each country claim to watch TV three or more days per week. “It’s easy to come in and flip on the TV than it is to go outside,” says Klein. “But they love doing that.”

Children ranked playing with toys as their 10th favorite activity. However, 60 percent or more of all kids in each country except Japan and China are doing so three or more days a week. Spending Power

Going after kids’ entertainment dollars is more than a pocketful of change.

Overall kids are spending a total of 38 percent of their income on entertainment related items (23 percent on toys and games/15 percent on entertainment/recreation). The Study

The Nickelodeon/Just Kid Inc. Global Kids Study was completed in two waves. Roper Starch Worldwide and Research International conducted the international research in the first and second waves, respectively.

The first wave, completed in 1996, included the China, France, Germany, Japan, UK and the US . The second wave was recently completed and includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, India, Italy and Mexico. Results from Brazil have not yet been released.

The survey included 400 personal in-home interviews with kids ages 7-12 and their moms. (Laurie Klein, Just Kid Inc., 203/358-2126)

COPYRIGHT 1998 Phillips Publishing International, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group

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