Pre-school 101 – Insight’s Kidgredients of Success
Uncovering the secrets to successful preschool media experiences – with a focus on the US market Moderator: Shazia Ali, Research Consultant, Mint Research Speakers Stacey Matthias, Partner, Insight Research Group The first research session of the conference was a cosy affair with a full house in Cinema 1.Shazia Ali kicked off the session by introducing Stacey Matthias and Jamie Betesh from Insight Research Group based in New York. Stacey was quick to explain she would prefer this session to run as a dialogue, which was handy as there were lots of questions. In the spirit of keeping the audience engaged we were all asked to smell the crayons handed out in order to prompt old memories and associations. Things like old school desks, water, play dough (and throwing the latter at girls) were suggested and then one delegate told us the crayon smell reminded her of how she used to try to eat them! Judging by the audience response, this may well have been a more common practice than delegates would care to admit…. This exercise was to remind us how embedded these memories are. We also heard that preschool memories (aged 5 and under) are often snapshots of images and sensations. With this in mind, we were reminded that preschoolers are not all equal. There are often dramatic differences depending on their exact ages; in other words, a 3 year old is very different to a 5 year old when it comes to physical, cognitive and socio-emotional development. Stacey explained the preschool age is ‘a time of firsts’, so any exposure they have to media content is educational bringing with it an opportunity to enrich. Parents are usually the gatekeepers and therefore the ones that influence the content preschool children consume. In the USA, parents expect content to be safe, educational and with positive benefits. This in turn reflects the types of content US Broadcasters are likely to take on; content with overt educational benefits is more likely to be a hit – both with parents and in turn broadcasters. Think Dora the Explorer and Super Why. Six key ‘kidgredients’ for creating a preschool hit were then shared: Original, relatable, safe, simple, consistent and beneficial. So, what else? Preschool content should encompass all the senses. Visual and auditory cues help kids to understand and absorb whilst sound and music can punctuate and reinforce ideas. Kids learn best through repetition so content creators need to keep that in mind too. Questions were invited from the audience and there was interest in finding out how different the US curriculum is compared to that in the UK. In terms of creating content that works for both markets, Stacey said there is a difference, and her advice is the earlier you’re clear about the curriculum and what it communicates the more likely it is that your content will work for broadcasters and parents across the pond. Delegates also wanted to know if parents in the US are concerned about language. According to this session – the answer is yes. American parents don’t want their children to pick up language they have to correct and they don’t want language that they consider to be ‘fresh’ or sassy. Finally, one delegate picked up on the point that preschoolers can also enjoy content that is often more sophisticated and not always aimed at them specifically e.g Disney and Pixar films. The speakers agreed and put that down to the multi-layered aspects of such content which can allow very young children to be entertained by the visual story telling whilst also keeping Mums and Dads happy too.