Reaching Out to Kids and Teens

Building brand loyalty at an early age

Published in the January 2013 Issue Published online: Jan 25, 2013 Frank Muir, IPC President
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When the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) creates a new television commercial or launches a public relations campaign such as a recipe contest, most of these programs are targeted to a very specific group of people-women ages 25-54 who are the primary household shoppers.

However, there is a very large audience that, as marketing professionals, we can't ignore-kids and teens. Scores of studies have been conducted to determine the age when brand loyalty begins to develop. Some experts believe it's as early as 3.

Over the years we have created several programs that engage children. These initiatives are designed to educate them about the important nutrients found in potatoes, introduce them to the famous "Grown in Idaho" seal (a symbol we want them to associate with quality) and allow them to have a little fun while learning!

On the IPC's website, we've created a special section just for kids: The page contains an animated video that explains how a potato grows, a word search that challenges kids to find the words, "Idaho potatoes are good for you," kid-friendly recipes, games and coloring pages. Every year, we add new components to keep kids, parents and teachers coming back.

This year, in recognition of our 75th anniversary, we launched a new program for first- and second-grade students called, "Smashed Spuddy Buddy." Kids were encouraged to color in a drawing of the IPC's mascot Spuddy Buddy, take a photo of Spuddy Buddy enjoying a family activity, upload the photo to the IPC's Facebook page (with the help and consent of an adult) and they were eligible to win a $100 U.S. Savings Bond. The program was supported by Mrs. Lori Otter, Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter's wife and promoted heavily through social media. Next fall we plan to offer other incentives to kids, schools and parents that will encourage them to embrace Smashed Spuddy Buddy and learn about the Idaho potato harvest.

Social media is playing a significant role in helping us communicate with a younger group of potato fans. The IPC's Facebook page has about 20,000 "likes." About 20 percent of these "likes" are from males and females between the ages of 13 and 24. Our followers on Twitter and YouTube have similar demographic profiles. To generate more "likes," we plan to sponsor more promotions with exciting prizes, post fun facts and share photos of some of the country's biggest potato fans.

Additionally, the IPC's Great Big Idaho Potato Truck, which just wrapped up a seven-month cross-country tour, proved to be a great way to engage families and young kids. No matter where the Truck went, people of all ages flocked to get their photo taken with it. And, we made an extra effort to visit sites and offer activities that were appealing to kids. We spent two days at Silverwood Theme Park in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, created fun games for the kids to play while visiting the truck and set up a special potato-decorating table in celebration of Halloween at the Los Angeles Farmers' Market. We're currently planning the 2013 Tour, and you can bet that we'll have a line-up of kid-friendly venues to visit.

I hope you are able to take a look at the Kids' Page on the IPC's website and maybe share some of the links with your kids or grandkids. I guarantee they'll find something fun to do and learn a little, too!