The multi-channel brand agency

Never work with kids? Never say never.


Never work with… well you know the rest. However, many of the products that major brands sell are targeted at that very audience – children.

We all know that the actual money comes from the parents (and as parents we REALLY understand that we are the source of funds!) However, the ‘Pester Power’ is all from the children. Thus any products aimed at the under fives must appeal both to the adult gatekeeper but also to the child who consumes it.

How do you test new variants, find out what they feel like when being consumed and test the expectations versus the actual delivery? How do you do meaningful research with under fives? Can you test the relevance and appeal of an old favourite – such as Tomato Ketchup or Fish Fingers? Yes, even the well-known brand leaders need to make sure they remain relevant, attractive and enjoyable.

One of the biggest issues for brands such as these is the desire – no absolute need – to recruit consumers young but to keep them through the troublesome teens and into adulthood. To achieve this you need to be able to understand the initial appeal, how that changes through life and how to ensure that the product retains an appeal that resonates.

Coca-Cola has done a fabulous job at resolving the problem that it had up to about ten years ago of ‘Finished at Forty’. The fact that consumers used to grow out of Coca-Cola. It is no longer such an issue because both the initial appeal of Coca-Cola and also the targeted use of mixed messages and range extensions has been understood and used to inform actions. Think Coke Zero as well as the careful targeting of new brands for the familial stable. The brand has been able to recruit and keep consumers in the category and in Coca-Cola owned beverages.

What of other favourites like Fish Fingers and Tomato Ketchup then? Both Birds Eye and Heinz know that the long-term health of their brands requires them to recruit young consumers and to keep them by retaining their appeal. Thus they must avoid a call to childishness – rather they need an enduring value and this will be based on emotional truths rather than superficial attractiveness.

So, how do you research these concepts and values with a child as young as four or five? Well Piaget tells us in his seminal psychological work (he was first but others have confirmed the findings) that a child has a fully developed sense of the emotional environment by the age of eighteen months. The problem comes with their inability to articulate how they feel – and that is even more difficult for them when it comes to how products – food and drink but also toys, books and any stimulus – make them feel. Yet this is a key to understanding the impact and appeal of the product and the brand and also how well any communications strategy is working.

The Sensory Space approach uses some unique tools – mainly pictorially based – but also using a group style led interaction, which ensures a relaxed and informal environment for the child – which unlock these issues. We have worked with children as young as four and done numerous groups with kids and teenagers. The insights gained inform brands and clients – giving them a unique competitive advantage. What’s more – working with kids is simply great fun – they are energetic, chaotic, innocent and delightful.

Only a fool would agree with the maxim about not working with kids – they are the future and can not only tell you how your brand will shape up but define the success of it!

Our Sensory Space research methodology and technology deliver insights for our clients across their (and their competitors’) marketing mix. We have helped clients with product development (such as adding extra and extended freshness) and used the insights to express this through their communications, connecting them with their audiences in a truly insightful and compelling way. The result – more sales. Simply put we help brands make more money.

To find out more about how we can help your business, why not give our team a call on 01133 365 365 or email us on

The Space People 100 Wellington Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4LT. United Kingdom