What parenting strategies can you capitalise on from the Stickeez craze? Love ’em or hate ’em, these little suckers are here for at least a month so make them work for you as a parent. The Stickeez craze is an overt marketing strategy from supermarket giant, Pick ‘n Pay, to use the power of kidfluence to get you into their stores instead of shopping elsewhere, and it seems to be working. For every R150 you spend you get one of 24 collectible characters – tiny little rubbery creatures with a suction base that have children in a frenzy and many parents in a tizz.
The power of marketing through kids
Big brands are having to be more creative to get more money out of our wallets, so they target our kids. This is not a new phenomenon – think McDonald’s with their Happy Meals as just one of many examples. Marketers use multiple touch points to access our kids to groom them to be good consumers. In essence, they teach our kids to nag well and 70% of parents give in to nagging according to the research. The big question is, is it ethical? There is much debate around this and if we were in the US, the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood would be onto this like a rash in their quest to reclaim childhood from corporate marketers.
Why do collectibles work?
Creating a campaign around collectibles is clever because it forces you to keep making more purchases at the same store which then rewards you for your brand loyalty. Our kids have been brought up in a reward culture so there is nothing new about this. In addition, think marbles, stickers, Pet in Your Pocket, Gogos, Bakugang and more. These are examples of collectible crazes, and marbles are actually experiencing a huge comeback in playgrounds at the moment with suppliers desperately trying to keep up with demand. In most of these instances, parents, or children with their pocket money, made conscious additional purchases. In the case of Stickeez, parents don’t have to spend any more than they normally would, they just have to choose in which store they will make their purchases – and this is the objective of the Stickeez campaign. Of course it is not altruistic – it is about making more money by driving more consumers into the stores, in this case, Pick ‘n Pay.
Collectibles teach kids how to trade
When you create a collection from surprise packages, such as Stickeez, you never know what you are going to get until you open the packet, which is part of the attraction. This means that you will always get duplicates at some stage. These are used to trade with other children to get the characters you need to complete your collection. It’s exactly how it works with marbles – there are some marbles that you just don’t play with – you collect and keep and then ‘you trade with other kids who have duplicate ‘specials’, purchasing those ‘specials’ with your extras. Not a bad lesson for learning how to do business! The Stickeez craze has moved onto Gumtree where there are auctions and adverts for swapping and trading the suckers to complete collections.
Learning patience through collecting
With a generation who demand instant gratification, collecting a full set of anything demands that children learn to wait and exercise patience because a collection takes time to complete.
Parenting strategies for Stickeez
- Use Stickeez as a teachable moment to educate your children about marketing and what this campaign is really all about. Acknowledge how clever Pick ‘n Pay has been s well as the ethics of marketing to kids, and then decide as a family if you are going to ‘play the game’ and make sure your kids know that this is a CHOICE and we always have the power to exercise choice. (Life Orientation and Business Studies teachers would do well to use this as a case study for a lesson plan too.)
- Buy the collectors book which has slots for all 24 and collect as a family, or buy each child a book if you are seriously going to engage in this collectors craze. There is also a cute little board game on the inside cover of the collectors book for which you will need a dice. The advantage of a collectors book is that it focuses kids on what they need to be collecting and they are then very clear about what extras they can use for trading.
- If you have very young children who don’t yet understand how the concept of waiting, then don’t take them shopping and you will avoid public tantrums.
- If you have more than one child and you do a small shop that doesn’t result in enough Stickeez to give one to each child then they need to learn how to take turns OR they have to wait until you have enough to give them one each at the same time (or maybe more than one each with the high cost of groceries today!). If they are going to tantrum or fight, then I wouldn’t suggest you don’t engage with the craze at all.
Family fun with Stickeez
- Kids love treasure hunts. Hide them around the house or garden for your children to find. If you have more than one child let them look one at a time and you can call ‘hotter’ and ‘colder’ to help younger children.
- Put a Stickeez under each child’s pillow for them to find when they come home from school.
- Probably the most innovative idea I have come up with is to use them for geocaching. This is hide & seek using GPS co-ordinates. It is a global phenomenon and there are over 2-million geocaches around the world. A cache consists of a watertight container from a small pill bottle to yoghurt containers and large plastic boxes that are hidden in interesting locations and filled with nik-naks or ‘treasure’ for trading. The cache owners place treasure inside the container and when other geocache hunters find it they can remove a treasure as long as they replace it with something else.
- On a recent holiday to Dullstroom my nieces and nephews replaced all the treasure in their geocache, which is hidden in a pile of rocks near a railway line and has had thousands of visitors over the past couple of years, with Stickeez! There was great excitement about this idea and because Stickeez are nice and small it makes them ideal treasure. For more information about geocaching go to www.geocaching.com – I think it’s a really constructive way of using these little suckers!
The biggest lesson to learn from Stickeez
The bottom line is this: do not become a sucker or a victim to marketing, especially where your children are concerned. Teach your kids that as consumers we always have the power to choose and we must exercise that power consciously and intentionally. You don’t have to buy into crazes but you can choose to. And, if you do, make sure you extract as much learning and as many teachable moments from the experience, as possible.
Of course Pick ‘n Pay has launched a free mobile Stickeez app so the craze will continue in both in the real and the online world for some time. This is how marketers make an impression and keep up their level of engagement with their consumers – even the youngest ones. Pick ‘n Pay’s Stickeez campaign is a classic example of cradle to grave youth marketing that plays by this mantra: Catch customers young and you’ll keep them for life.
Help your children to become conscious consumers!
Read mommy blogger Celeste Barlow’s blog that started the social media froth about the Stickeez frenzy and be prepared for some choice language in her rant – but it will also give you a laugh.
Here is an Eye Witness News report on the topic.
I address the issue of consumerism and branding in a big way in my talk which I present at schools and for parent groups called Connecting with Children through the Noise & Clutter.
Creative parenting expert, inspirational speaker and co-author of Tech-Savvy Parenting (Bookstorm, 2014), Future-proof Your Child (Penguin, 2008), and Easy Answers to Awkward Questions (Metz Press, 2009)