Kid Think, a decade-old market research consultancy currently housed under DDB's Griffin Bacal ad agency unit, will now stretch across 22 DDB offices worldwide. The unit will provide counsel on product packaging, strategic planning, new-product development and licensing for youth-oriented clients.
The move is a recognition of the growing significance of youth marketing. U.S. kids under the age of 15 spend about $25 billion annually and influence $187 billion in parental purchases, according to Paul Kurnit, president of Griffin Bacal and Kid Think founder. Worldwide, the buying force of this group often is estimated at more than $120 billion and growing dramatically.
"Kids are much more consumer-savvy than ever before," Mr. Kurnit said. "If you build a brand relationship early, you potentially have a loyal customer for life."
DDB's expansion of Kid Think is the latest in a line of agency initiatives to specialize in youth-related marketing. This summer in the U.S., Grey Advertising launched G Whiz! The playing field also includes WPP Group's Geppetto Group, Leo Burnett Co.'s Kid Leo, Saatchi & Saatchi's Kid Connection and Campbell Mithun Esty's CME Kidcom.
The race to establish youth units is a reaction to clients' needs. Marketers have begun to flood shelves with "kid-friendly" versions of products -- everything from soap to shampoo to soup, according to Mr. Kurnit.
Top executives in each of DDB's 22 offices will take responsibility for the youth marketing expertise. In some offices, the discipline will be newly established. In others -- such as the existing Palmer Jarvis DDB's Imagination Youth Marketing division -- units will be rebranded with the Kid Think moniker.
Over the past 10 years, Kid Think has serviced a multitude of global marketers including PepsiCo's Frito-Lay and Pepsi-Cola Co., General Mills, Lipton and McDonald's Corp.
DDB North American President Ken Kaess said DDB views the expansion as "merchandising our capabilities."
"We're taking an expertise that was developed in the U.S. and exposing it to the network," he said. He added that Kid Think's decade of experience and expanded database will give it a clear advantage in the competitive youth-marketing environment.