Consumer habits are changing faster than they ever have before, sometimes making it difficult for companies to stay on the pulse of what’s trending as it’s happening.
That’s where The Insights Family comes in.
Formerly knows as The Insights People, the company specializes in family market intelligence and surveys more than half a million kids and parents worldwide each year to gather data about their attitudes, behaviors, and consumption patterns. Its Kids Insights division surveys 6,970 kids ages 3-8 each week, while Parents Insights speaks with more than 3,400 parents with kids ages 1-16 weekly.
From the rise of esports during the COVID-19 era to how much time kids are spending on social media, The Insights Family’s newly launched platform, Portal 4.0, provides extensive data for users to browse, filter, and analyze to make informed decisions about their business strategies. The platform includes 11 new features, such as Persona Perspectives, the Trend Tracker, the Country Context Tool, the Media Mix Compass, and more.
The Toy Book caught up with The Insight Family’s CEO and Founder Nick Richardson about Portal 4.0 and how the data helps companies pinpoint trends as they’re happening.
Click here to get freemium access to the new Portal 4.0 platform.
Toy Book: How does The Insights Family rebrand fit in with the company’s growth?
NR: As our business developed since launching in 2017, it soon became apparent that data was lacking on the kids’ and parents’ ecosystem was not isolated just to the UK — but there was a need on a global basis that nobody was fulfilling. Therefore, we set our vision to be the global leaders, and made it our business to achieve that!
We have expanded into 17 countries, operating in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Spain, the UK, and the U.S.. The Insights Family currently surveys 362,100 kids and 176,800 parents every year across five continents.
After four years of doing research and surveys, we realized that we have accumulated knowledge that is not only about kids and parents, but also about the whole family. Therefore, the transformation from The Insights People to The Insights Family is so natural. The rebrand represents a transition for the business. It is not just Portal 4.0 launching, but business 4.0.
With that, we also have a refreshed purpose and mission: Our purpose is to provide children, parents, and families with a voice to shape their worlds. Our mission is to be the business-critical partner for the world’s top brands who are looking to engage kids, parents, and families.
TB: What is your methodology? How do you do what you do?
NR: In the U.S., we survey more than 410 different kids ages 3-18 each week on a continuous basis, or 21,300 a year. These children are age, gender, and nationally representative. Our data looks at kids’ attitudes, behavior, and consumption across their whole ecosystem — from their media consumption, device and technology ownership, to their hobbies, and more.
This provides our data with up to 99% statistical significance, enabling us to provide real-time data and see how trends are evolving over time. As far as I am aware, we are the only company that does this in the U.S., and the 16 other countries where we operate — which provides us, and more importantly our clients, with an unrivaled understanding.
This is the same methodology that we adopt in every country we operate, meaning that we are surveying a family member somewhere around the world every 117 seconds!
TB: What is the strategy behind gathering this data?
NR: It is my belief that research and data is now a critical part of all our jobs. If you work in advertising, content, licensing, marketing, product development, or sales, it is an essential tool to provide understanding, test our convictions, and, ultimately, measure our results.
However, there are still large amounts of market research and data that are not accessible, and worse than that, data that is quite intimidating. While we can call default to doing a bit of desk research or talking to our own kids, if we are honest with ourselves, that does not really stack up. That is why we have set it to be our mission to become the world’s top brands business-critical partner.
First, it is important that brands listen to kids, parents, and families, and it is our purpose to provide them with a voice to shape their world. It is also increasingly important for brands to not just take a global approach to their marketing and product development. Our approach enables clients to adopt a global, regional, national, and local view.
From a client perspective, research can be very expensive – and is often out of date once it is produced.
We have purposely built a solution based on a commercial application — so while our propriety data and research underpin everything we do, we are now increasingly able to build solutions that are based on individuals’ responsibilities. One of which is our media planning tool, Media Mix Compass, as well as our IP Tracker tool, allowing users to assess brands and IP performance from a licensing perspective. We provide a consistent approach, enabling clients to compare “apples with apples.”
TB: What trends are you seeing from kids in the U.S.?
NR: We know that they are more financially empowered and have far greater influence than ever before. For example, in the U.S., the influence of kids ages 3-9 have over family purchases has significantly grown in 16 out of 20 household categories, including toys (+9%), grocery items (+16%), and even kitchen appliances in Q1 2021 compared to Q1 2020. This demonstrates how the influence of kids extends beyond purchase categories typically considered to be kid-centric.
Therefore, it has never been more important to understand kids’ influence on shopping habits, carefully define your target audience, and measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. In an ever-shifting landscape, it is very difficult to understand the attitudes, behaviors, and consumption of kids, parents, and families.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have only made this more important. It is crucial that brands can track data continuously (before, during, and after the pandemic, for example). Strategies and tactics are shifting on a weekly basis. That is why our approach with the Portal 4.0 platform provides a 360-degree perspective of their lives. It is designed to provide an unrivaled insight into the attitudes, behavior, and consumption of kids, parents, and families, and help our clients make smarter decisions.
TB: Tell us about the launch of the new Portal 4.0.
NR: Our team of developers has built incredible technology to help brands easily and quickly find out any information about kids and parents in real-time, as well as their attitudes, behaviors, and their purchasing power. Everything that made Portal 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 so special remains, including the ease of use, real-time data, and the ability to view, filter, and analyze the data intuitively remain.
However, with all the feedback we have captured, we have not only made hundreds of small but significant improvements and enhancements, but we have also now integrated cutting-edge innovations that we have been working on in the background. First and foremost, the portal holds all our propriety data, collected from surveying over half a million kids and parents across 17 countries each year. It provides over 600 million data points to view, filter, and analyze.
In addition to that, it houses all the tools we have been developing, such as our Media Mix Compass, which is a media planning tool that enables clients to compare 11 different categories of media based on their reach, preference, and time spent.
The platform also includes the clustering tool Persona Perspectives. Powered by cutting-edge machine learning and utilizing the latest theory from the world of psychology, clustering will unlock previously unseen insights into an audience and fanbase. This tool was developed with a team of academics at Manchester Metropolitan University.
We have also added contextual data for every country where we operate in, providing socioeconomic and demographic data and insights for additional context. There are new API feeds from the likes of Instagram, TikTok, Twitch, and YouTube. A new section of the portal has also been created to house all our clients’ bespoke research projects — enabling them to utilize all the functionality of the portal as well as our persona technology.
So, in summary, we have not only moved the goalposts, but we have completely rebuilt them! Do not just take my word, I encourage people to go and have a look, and let us know your feedback.
TB: What new data will brands and retailers receive with the platform’s Persona Perspectives?
NR: Persona Perspectives will enable users to better understand their audience by using personas from the Big 5 psychology model. The tool is developed in-house by our growing team of data scientists and makes use of cutting-edge Machine Learning techniques. Understanding the personas of prospective customers is a necessary step in the campaign development cycle on everything from the product design of toys to their advertising and retail.
Having recently surveyed over 100 professionals across the kids’ and parents’ space, The Insights Family found that 94% of businesses do not believe they have a sufficient understanding of the family audience. As family attitudes, behaviors, and consumption patterns continue to shift and evolve, having a deep understanding of this audience has never been more important.
TB: In what ways will the portal’s new tools, like the Media Mix Compass, help brands to reach their core audience?
NR: This generation of kids has more influence than ever before. It is, therefore, more important than ever for brands to reach and engage these young stakeholders, and every brand must now become a family brand. Although reaching this generation is crucial, it is increasingly difficult to do so.
Growing up as digital natives, this generation has far greater choices over what they consume and when. For example, in the U.S., 46% of kids surveyed have their own smartphone by the age of 11. The rise of gaming and esports has also fragmented the viewing landscape even further, with 48% of 6-12-year-olds engaging with esports during the COVID-19 era — showing how trends quickly shift and the importance of tracking in real-time.
With kids’ attention fragmented across a huge range of increasingly niche platforms, reaching a mass audience can be tough. A report from PwC shows that the kids’ global advertising market will be worth almost $5 billion in 2021. The report also states that 37% of this spend will go on digital. Despite that, The Insights Family data shows kids spend a much larger 62% of their leisure time on digital platforms — illustrating a huge gulf between where brands spend their money and where kids spend their time.
The Media Mix Compass enables clients (for the first time) to compare 11 types of media — including social media, gaming, YouTube, and broadcast TV — so you can essentially compare TikTok, Cartoon Network, Fortnite, or YouTube. Furthermore, the Media Mix Compass enables you to define your audience by age, gender, region, persona, and even by their actual interests.
This independent account of kids’ media consumption will help improve brands’ decision-making in an increasingly fragmented ecosystem. It will provide decision-makers with more clarity and confidence as they increasingly look to consider more innovative forms of engagement such as in-game advertising.
TB: How will Portal 4.0 help brands and retailers pinpoint specific trends as they’re happening?
NR: Our unique approach to surveying kids, parents, and families on a continual basis enables us to identify trends as they are forming. Likewise, if we take the effects of COVID-19, it provides our clients with an unrivaled view of what their attitudes, behavior, and consumption were before the pandemic, how they have developed during the pandemic, and ultimately what they will become after.
As far as I am aware, we are the only company in the world to have this information. We know from our industry report that only 6% of organizations that operate in the kids, parents, and family space believe that they have a sufficient understanding of them.
Our Trend Alert reports and real-time data also proved that we spotted the rising popularity of trends such as Fortnite and TikTok months before they exploded in popularity in the kid’s ecosystem. However, one of the most important trends we have tracked is that this generation of kids has more influence than ever before. Our data in the U.S. shows that only 1 in 10 kids have no influence over grocery purchases.
It is, therefore, more important than ever for brands to reach and engage these young stakeholders and every brand must now become a family brand.
TB: How can brands and retailers access the new portal and website?
NR: It’s easy! To get freemium access, just visit our portal here.
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