Are moms around the world open to buying consumer products branded with Kids characters? If so, which characters … and what products? Nickelodeon International answered these questions with a report released in June, “Character Engagement: Consumer Products.”

This quantitative and qualitative research project aimed to identify the most important character attributes to moms and how associating Nick characters with key consumer product categories can drive intent to purchase. The study was based on moms with kids under six years old in eight countries: the UK, France, Germany, Russia, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and China. Here are key findings:

Characters are important to moms – and they are central in family life.

  • They help moms with education and development, enable kids to bond with peers, and offer a shortcut to an emotional connection between mother and child
  • Many characters are brands in their own right and play an important role in moms’ purchasing decisions, imparting clearly recognizable values on the products she buys

Moms feel it’s important for characters to make kids happy — to make them laugh especially — and aid in the child’s development.

  • Over 70-80% of moms feel the most important attributes for children’s characters are being funny, opening the child’s imagination, teaching new things, setting a good example, and encouraging physical activity

As kids get older, the character’s role is less about Mom and more focused on what the child gets from the character.

  • For moms of babies and toddlers, characters are appealing when they help during difficult childrearing moments and tap into Mom’s own childhood memories
  • As kids get older, it’s important for them to relate to the character and see it as cool

Characters appearing on consumer products play an important role in shopping for moms and can make their daily lives easier in a number of ways.

  • They act as a tool to encourage kids to do things they don’t want to do and develop good habits
  • They help forge a stronger mother-child bond by showing kids that Mom understands them
  • They make shopping easier by engaging kids and helping Mom understand new categories and products

A character has more impact and communicates its values more strongly when it’s integrated into the product experience.

  • A character “sticker” on a random product is not very appealing to moms
  • Recommendations: partner with trusted category leaders, demonstrate character personality in the on-pack communications, and adapt product design to fit character values, personality, and associations

The attributes mums find key are relatively consistent across the wide range of markets we researched. There are, however, some interesting market nuances:

In Mexico kids’ role at the heart of society means it is important a character is seen to make them happy, but a strong sense of morality means rude or bad behaviour in characters is less tolerated

As mums the UK are particularly brand savvy quality is key, this makes the role of the manufacturer brand more important alongside character endorsements

Moms in Brazil are more open about the need to get their kids the latest things, therefore it is important that a character is seen as cool by kids themselves

In China a character endorsement can work in the same way, and carry the same weight, as celebrity endorsements (which are important in this market)

Five things to remember:

Characters work best on products that kids touch and interact with directly.

Integrating a character deeply into a product is optimal.

The funnier the character, the more products it can associate with.

Brands with niche gender and age appeal also have the ability to span more categories – depth over breadth of appeal.

Though education is top-of-mind for Mom, in consumer products humor and fun are king.