Understanding The True Appeal Of Frozen To Kids
In the week where Disney reported record quarterly earnings, much attention and credit has been given to the ‘Frozen’ franchise, and rightly so. Frozen has been an absolutely mammoth phenomena in terms of both box office and merchandise sales.
As recently as last August I was doing interviews with TV/Radio/Online companies explaining the shortage of Frozen products. From September onwards the influx of Frozen products & stock was staggering, and sell through was clearly equally staggering judging by the evidence.
Moreover, at the recent toy fairs in the UK & Nuremberg, it became clear that the industry has caught up with demand in terms of sku count, and presumably in terms of stock also.
So if 2014 was a massive year for Disney Consumer Products at least partly due to the Frozen effect, it seems evident that 2015 will be even better with a full year of sales and a much broader range of merchandise available.
However, while we’ve seen plenty of dry eyed financial analysis of the effect of the Frozen smash hit, we haven’t seen all that much credible analysis of what’s driving such dizzy heights of adoration from kids.
In our Kids Brand Insight business www.KidsBrandInsight.com we regularly and routinely research test toy products, TV and movie content, gaming & apps with kids and parents. Throughout 2014, Frozen has been a hot topic for kids during our research sessions. Here’s a list of the top factors driving the huge levels of interest/attachment from kids:
1. Proven Story Line – when you look at the biggest hits in the kids entertainment space, they usually follow a proven pattern/format in terms of the narrative, themes & characterisation i.e. heroes & villains, dark versus light etc. Frozen appears to be loosely based/derivative of the Hans Christian Andersen classic ‘The Snow Queen’. As with so many of Disney’s hit franchises, once a story is proven to work, big things can follow!
2. Iconic Highly Repeatable Music – kids love to sing. Not all of them are very good at it, but children are generally more spontaneous than adults, and so if they like a song they will sing it. If a song has a powerful efffect, is entertaining and easy to sing this really helps.
3. Compelling Character Matrix & Relationships – children associate themselves with characters they like, but not all children like the same characters (obvious, but not always recognised/acknowledged by kids entertainment companies we find!).
4. EMOTIONAL IMPACT – this is (in our view) the most impactful, largest single factor explaining the massive success of Frozen. It’s been hugely entertaining reading/watching twenty or thirty something adults (mostly men) from the financial community try and explain in very functional terms why kids, and especially girls are so in love with Frozen! The most fundamental answer lies not in the more rational factors outlined above in points 1 to 3…it lies in the huge emotional impact of the movie.
Adults often forget what it was like to be a child. Children are much more driven by their emotions. On the negative side, kids (even in affluent circumstances) live in fear to a degree – fear of being told off by teachers & parents, fear of other bigger kids, fear of the unknown, fear of monsters, ghosts and other baddies that are a construct of more fertile imaginations than those of adults etc. On the positive side, kids form very strong emotional attachments to friends, family, (sometimes!) teachers, animals and characters from the world of kids entertainment.
Frozen is in essence a story of a child who is constantly in trouble without wanting to be, of sisters who want to be close but who have to stay apart, of funny friends/animals met along the way, and of course of redemption and joyful reunion.
Forget the first three points above, because those should be taken for granted in this day and age with such professional productions, and forget the balance sheets, revenue forecasts and all that jazz. Frozen is genuine movie magic because it takes kids (& parents!) on an emotional roller coaster that they can associate with, follow and enjoy. Simple when you think about it, but not so easily replicated!