Movers & Shakers

The kids’ ecosystem has changed significantly

Interview with Nick Richardson, The Insights Family
Header: The kids’ ecosystem

Nick is a Manchester Metropolitan and University of Bolton graduate, and has previously worked in senior marketing and strategy roles for companies such as Exxon Mobil and Hilton Hotels. Nick returned to Manchester in 2017 to setup The Insights Family.

The Insights Family operates in 17 countries across five continents and in total surveys more than 362,100 kids and 176,800 parents a year. Currently, the company interviews a family member somewhere in the world every 117 seconds. Clients include Amazon, Disney, LEGO, Mattel, Nintendo, Pokémon, SEGA, Viacom, Warner Bros. and more.


With the market research company The Insights Family you want nothing less than to look into the minds of consumers. Because your clients want actionable insights how to reach their target audience. How do you do that?

Portrait photo of Nick Richardson
Nick Richardson, CEO and Founder of The Insights Family 

Nick Richardson: 

We believe that organisations should be listening to what kids, parents, and families’ attitudes, behaviour, and consumption are. That is why we made it our purpose to provide kids, parents, and families with a voice to shape their worlds. As our recent industry survey highlighted more than 80% of industry professionals believe the world is changing faster than ever before, and only 6% of them believe they have sufficient understanding of their target audience.
That is why, we have made it our mission to develop a range of tools, to help clients across their business and by providing real-time data and using data science technologies we can see what their attitudes, behaviours, and consumption were last year, last month, last week, yesterday, today and can increasingly predict what they will be tomorrow.
Our new portal – 4.0, has retained all of the features which made portals 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 so special, but we have added 11 new features including API data from third parties, Persona Perspectives and further enhancements to our game changing Media Mix Compass – a media planning tool which scores more than 1,500 different media by reach, preference, and time spent.

What effects of the pandemic do you register in your surveys?

Nick Richardson:

The effects of the pandemic are in every aspect of our research, as everything in the family ecosystem is inherently connected. We have seen how the pandemic has changed those two parameters significantly and has changed how families spend their time. From a toys and games perspective, in the US, we noticed a 72% year-on-year increase in the number of tweens playing board games with their parents. At their peak throughout lockdown, 45% of these kids were playing Monopoly and Uno as a family unit. Board games being considered as a favourite toy for 5-18s has almost doubled across the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, and the US.

How do you recruit your respondents?

Nick Richardson:

We work with some of the most respected panel providers across the globe, who have access to kids, parents, and families on every continent.  Our surveys are always live, continuously collecting data.  All data we collect is anonymous.

Your relatively young company has recently experienced tremendous international growth. Do you want this to continue and where do you put the focus?

Nick Richardson:

We are incredibly proud and humbled with the growth we have experienced as a team. We have grown to over 50 people, and we are actively recruiting for a further 15 roles. Our team is made up of incredible talent from around the world with the business employing individuals from 16 nationalities.
Our international expansion will continue this year with a number of markets in final feasibility, but our international growth will begin to slow and then start to focus on further enhancing our services and footprint in each country. We are just about to announce a significant enhancement to our US business, which will enable us and more importantly our clients to access 150,000,000 consumers in the US, where we can actively undertake qualitative research.

You are active in 17 countries. There are some constants that are culture-neutral. But we also know that there are often surprising differences from country to country, which are often not easy to explain. Do you take this into account in your survey design?

Nick Richardson:

Yes, this is a critical part of our feasibility and testing before we launch into the country. Our team of researchers undertake months of work to assess market feasibility and to build a significant understanding of the markets in which we are looking to operate in.
One of the core benefits of what we do is whilst we tailor the survey design based on age groups and country culture, we are still able to provide clients with a like for like comparison of all the 17 countries we operate in. This enables them to not only have a global, regional, or country overview – but can also drill down to a local view. I believe that this is a crucial advantage of working with us, as the world evolves from globalisation to localisation – it has never been more important for brands and agencies to have both a global and local understanding.

You presented the Media Mix Compass as an aid for media planning. There, your survey results are translated into recommendations for this media planning. Are these recommendations also specifically tailored to the media offer of the countries surveyed?

Nick Richardson:

It is very apparent in our data, that the kids’ ecosystem has changed significantly during recent years, to become increasingly digital-centric, and Covid has further accelerated this trend.
The kids advertising market is estimated to be worth $5bn a year (according to PwC), and in our recent industry report only three-quarters of businesses are confident they can achieve their business targets in the coming year.
I think it would be fair to say that as an industry, a lot of organisations have taken a while to react to the major changes in kids, parents, and families’ attitudes, behaviour, and consumption. Up until recently a significant number of people in the industry were still dependent with what TV Ratings would be supporting a brand or specific product. Based on our data, we don’t believe this to be the case, so we made it our mission to develop a solution which would provide an independent score of 11 of the key types of media which are highly prevalent in the kids’ ecosystem.
It has probably taken close to 12 months to develop a methodology which would provide an accurate understanding of media performance, by reach, preference and time spent. The tool which our researchers, data scientists and developers have developed in collaboration with academics and industry professionals reviews more than 1,500 different forms of media in each country. It provides an MMS™ (media mix score) for each channel, which clients can use to help plan their media campaigns. Even more excitingly, is that we have a clear roadmap over the next 12 months, to enhance this even further…

Thank you for the interview, Nick Richardson. 

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