Making Retro Refreshing: Radio Flyer Reinvented

Posted by Amy Henry on Fri, Jun 29, 2012 @ 08:31 AM

Radio FlyerThe first brand I worked on out of college, back in my ad agency days, was an iconic teen brand (which will rename nameless) that had seen better days. If you’ve worked on one of these brands, you know they can simultaneously elicit overwhelming affection and extreme frustration from those charged with nurturing them. Their brand caretakers wrestled with retaining the brand’s charm and reenergizing it at the same time. This is particularly true for the stewards of youth brands, who may have memories of the role the brand played in their own lives, but who have to rediscover the right way for these brands to connect with today’s youth.  We’re often asked for guidelines or rules for keeping classic brands cool…Clearly, one size doesn’t fit all in this regard. But we think Radio Flyer has struck a nice balance between authentic and exciting with some of their most recent innovations. Here’s how they’ve done it:

  1. They built from, not against their brand.  While Radio Flyer could have gone “everything container,” or even everything wagon, the brand seems to have recognized early on that its style was as important as its ride. Sure, its offerings are almost all of the four-wheeled variety (with the exception of little wheelbarrows and rocking horses), but they stand out versus the competition because they’ve kept to their classic look. Many brands have made wagons – even red ones – but the shape, the style and the lollipop-delicious-look of Radio Flyer products take them from scooter to sculpture. And when they have walked away from heritage red, they kept it basic: pink for girl trikes and primary colors as accents to their steer and fold riders. The essence of Radio Flyer exists in the middle of nostalgic and modern, and the brand seems to embrace it in product type, form, and aesthetic.    
  2. They found a way to fit families (not the other way around). The little red wagon might represent the most basic mode of transportation for the kid set (and for their stuff), but today’s parents are far from simple when it comes to their strollers. This generation of parents – especially those living in urban areas where your carriage carries more cache than your car – see their prams as much more than practicalities. It might be retro, but Radio Flyer delivers on timely design. Not only are the sleek lines and nostalgic materials (wood and aluminum) hip again, but the available add-ons make the wagon the perfect transition from baby’s stroller to big kid’s transport. With padded seats, beverage carriers and sun-shading umbrellas, the new Radio Flyer wagons meet the needs of moms and dads while the cushier seats suit the bottoms of the post-Pamper set.     
  3. They gave families a reason to re-buy, not re-use. Finally, following a trend set by many entrenched brands looking to re-establish their relevance, Radio Flyer went the custom route. Sure, you might have an old red wagon in your garage. But now you can get one made to order, with your child’s name on it. You can pick your own design, making the old fashioned four-wheeler fit whatever your style is. And it doesn’t just stop with wagons.  Radio Flyer kept the technology of their scooters simple – and reminiscent of the scooters they’ve sold since the 1920s – but they give kids a chance to put their personal stamp on them. The Style N’ Ride brings the customization and collectability of charm bracelets to a much more active mode of play.

Of course, keeping a brand strong over time is easier said than done. But we think Radio Flyer shows that oldies can be goodies if they’re treated with the care and consideration they deserve.

Tags: research, play, parents, Sports, outside, family, kids tweens teens

YouthBeat Expands Expertise Adding Preschool Syndicated Study

Posted by Amy Henry on Wed, Jun 20, 2012 @ 03:18 PM

YouthBeat is excited to announce the launch of YouthBeat Jr.! YouthBeat Jr. extends the scope of YouthBeat, our syndicated study and consulting service that examines the lives of youth ages 6-18 and their parents to the 2-5 set. YouthBeat Jr. is grounded in a robust survey designed specificaPreschool Researchlly to unlock the authentic attitudes and real experiences of preschooler parents.

We ask about their parenting style and decision-making approaches. We find out how their children spend their time, what they love and what mom and dad want for them. We cover topics ranging from breakfast foods to book reading to birthday parties. And we ensure that our interpretation includes insight by bringing our applied and academic expertise to everything we do.

See the press release here.

To order your subscription to YouthBeat Jr. or to learn more, please contact Amy Henry by email at or call 312.828.9200.

Tags: youth research, preschool, youthbeat jr., news, market research

Navigating the New Dad

Posted by Amy Henry on Fri, Jun 15, 2012 @ 10:02 AM

Last year right around this time, we conducted a webinar, (click here to view) “The New Deal on Today’s Dads.”

We discussed the latest stats…Happy Father's Day

  • 290,000 children cared for by stay-at-home dads;
  • 24% of preschoolers are regularly cared for by their dads (full-time and part-time);
  • 1.7 million single dads with children under 18.

We shared five ways in which dads differ today - they are more:

  1. Involved than any cohort before them.
  2. Likely to identify with the role of fatherhood than dads of the past.
  3. Diverse than previous generations.
  4. Likely to seek out information on parenting than in the past.
  5. Likely to purchase products for the home than in the past).

Finally, we provided some “dos” and “don’ts” to help you speak to their needs and show their authentic experiences.

A year later, we wanted to take stock of what’s changed even in the short time that’s passed since we presented…

  • Dad ads have been held to a higher standard. It used to be that simply including a dad in a diaper ad would get you a lot of credit. But Huggies learned the hard way that today’s dads don’t just want to be shown, they want to be respected. When Huggies suggested that the ultimate torture test for their product was a day with dad, papas protested. As Heather Chaet suggests in a recent AdWeek article, the “doofus dad” might be doomed. Now comes the hard part – getting serious about exploring dad insights…How will you get it done?
  • Cliché’d dad humor has been deemed not so funny. James Poniewozik of Time recently wrote a column called “Daddy Issues? What’s so funny about men taking care of babies?” In it, he suggests that TV might be out of touch with the true lives of today’s dads – particularly when it comes to that modern classic joke: man with a baby carrier strapped to him. He notes the appearance of this bit in the pilots for upcoming shows Guys with Kids and Baby Daddy. It might be hard to blame them for coasting on the coattails of the Hangover (we can’t say that we ever tire of seeing Zach Galifinakis with a Baby Bjorn bound to him). But as Poniewozik suggests, this jocular jab at dads might be a bit weary. Yet all is not lost…Poniewozik gives props to the creators of Modern Family, Louie and Up All Night and upcoming Lifetime docudrama The Week The Women Went (in which the wives of blue collar workers leave their husbands for seven days while they take a realty-TV mandated vacation) for not only treating pops like people, but also introducing some fresh new father jokes. It’s not that dads aren’t funny – it’s just that dad jibes should be better.  
  • The modern dad has been mainstreamed. We noted that Pampers was already doing a great job recognizing dads through promotions and events designed to honor and inform them. But just because fatherhood is mainstreamed, it doesn’t mean all dads take the same approach. Like chic moms who fight the good fight against suburban malaise, Hipster Dad refuses to retreat into regular-ness just because he’s a dad. (Check out his interview with Honest Toddler here.) And speaking of keeping up with the times, more and more two-dad households have gotten attention in the past year. JCPenney (rising to the occasion after protests over employing Ellen DeGeneres as their spokesperson) recently ran a Father’s Day-focused ad featuring real-life same-sex couple Todd Koch and Cooper Smith playing with their children. Oprah gave Neil Patrick Harris and partner, David Burtka, a chance to let the world into a day-in-the-life of their family with an OWN special devoted just to them.
  • Moms have emerged as a newly defined market! Finally, mom marketing hasn’t fallen to the wayside in the wake of a focus on fatherhood…Instead, mom promotions have sought to identify the specific role that mom plays in many families; and working moms have become a bit more complicated. With better depictions of stay-at-home dads come more complex female characters who are both ambitious and attentive to their kids at the same time. If the rules of masculinity are changing, so are tenets of femininity.

Perhaps this Father’s Day’s gifts to dads (and moms) is a promise – we’ll take a closer look at who you are in the upcoming year. Make sure you and your brand don’t forget!

Tags: research, youth research, parents, family, dad, culture, parenting

5 Reasons to Re-think Preschoolers

Posted by Amy Henry on Fri, Jun 08, 2012 @ 11:38 AM

When it comes to youth, it’s safe to assume that while much has changed, much has also stayed the same. And that’s certainly the case for today’s preschoolers. But among the many things that have remained the same about this stage of life, it’s hard to deny that today’s preschoolers are different than any group that came before. While it’s important to understand what’s timeless about these tots, it’s equally important to refresh our perspective on what life means for these little ones right now.Preschool

As we prepare to launch YouthBeat Jr., a comprehensive syndicated study of children ages 2-5, we thought we would share some insights from our webinar, Putting the Preschool Market in Perspective, which we broadcast earlier this year. Here are five reasons we think it’s worth re-thinking our assumptions and perceptions about preschoolers right now:

  1. Preschoolers are taken more seriously than ever. For a long time, educators have considered the preschool years a critical period for learning. The parents of 2-5 year olds have also bought- in. They have high expectations for themselves, their children, and your brand/product/program.
  2. Preschoolers are no longer preparing for the social world – they live in it. According to a 2010 report from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center of Education Statistics, 69% of 4 year olds and 68% of 5 year olds were in center-based school/daycare programs. Add to that the many young children who regularly participate in scheduled and highly managed play dates and play groups, and it’s clear that this group is social, and is looking for social scaffolding earlier than ever before.
  3. Preschoolers are more tech-savvy than ever. We can thank touchscreen technology for turning a trend that was already well-entrenched past the tipping point. Many preschool parents report that they worry that their child will be behind academically and socially if they’re not already engaged in online game-play. And even parents who bemoan their child’s excessive screen time tend to tell researchers that they’re just a bit proud at how nimbly their precocious preschooler navigates the iPhone.
  4. Preschoolers are demographically different than ever before. According to a 2011 U.S. Census report, racial and ethnic minorities make up more than half the children born in the U.S. However, the demographic distinctiveness of this cohort of preschoolers doesn’t stop with diversity. This is also a generation of preschoolers whose parents are older than in the past, who are more likely to grow up with fewer siblings, and who have more moms who work and more dads that stay at home.
  5. Preschoolers are more catered to than ever. Preschoolers and their parents are hardly happy to be treated like big babies or “kids” to come. They don’t want products that are just right-sized, but that truly fit their unique needs. This generation no longer needs to settle for kids radio – they can tune into bands whose sole purpose is to serenade them.

To download a the extended white paper version of this blog, click here. And to find out more about YouthBeat Jr., contact Amy Henry at or 312/828.9200.

Tags: Education, youth research, preschool, qualitative research, quantitative research