‘People don’t like being pigeon-holed’: How Beano Studios targets kids and their parents

Through the ‘Beano Brain’, the media business analyses segments of kids and parents, and the ways they intersect with each other, in order to target them both effectively.

The Beano

Beano Studios is a diverse entertainment group spanning TV, digital content, events, consumer products, partnerships, a comic and an annual, which defines itself by the varied opportunities presented by kids.

By its nature, Beano Studios is a strongly demographic-led brand, targeted at the lower end of Gen Z and ‘Gen Alpha’ – children born in 2010 onwards. It has set up a data, insight and creativity loop which informs all its daily output. Called the Beano Brain, this approach analyses segments of kids and parents, and the ways they intersect with each other. CMO Iain Sawbridge explains that the child segmentation is driven by what influences their media behaviour, whereas the parental segmentation is defined by their parenting approaches.

There are occasions when Beano Studios specifically targets parents with cheeky stunts that tap into their latent love of the brand. In April 2018, for example, it served a cease-and-desist letter to Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg for impersonating Beano character Walter Brown.

Beano Studios combines its segmentation strategy with insight on children’s digital behaviour and information gathered from its long-running ethnographic study of kids. It speaks to around 20 children – known by the business as ‘trendspotters’ – on a weekly basis over an extended period of time to better understand what is going on in their lives, their interests, how they’re feeling and to help define their relationship with their parents.

The insight shows that Gen Alpha, the children of millennials, are a cohort who are highly engaged, digitally savvy and inclusive. It is also interesting to note that a quarter of this cohort refuse to disclose their gender.

“People don’t like pigeon-holing and over-simplification. I think it’s like our insight programme; you have to have broad brushstrokes to be able to act strategically, but also to be able to interrogate that all the time,” says Sawbridge.

He believes that while sometimes it is worth fighting against demographic groupings such as millennials or Gen Z, the best approach is to watch their behaviours and then stress-test them at all times. That is why, despite having an established demographic, the marketers are constantly looking for patterns and emergent behaviours.

“We might not look at our segmentation for a couple of weeks, because what we’re doing is optimising on the behaviours we’re seeing with our audiences,” Sawbridge says.

“Attitudinally is where the brand side comes in and the DNA of Beano as a rebel, a highly creative comedy brand. That attitudinal side runs through all of our content and marketing. It’s our ‘red thread’.”

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