Media Mix Compass | Source: The Insights Family

by NICK RICHARDSON, CEO, The Insights Family

The Insights Family surveys more than 7,000 kids ages 3-18 every week in 17 countries across five continents, gathering data from more than 370,000 kids each year. Its latest Kids Insights U.S. Trend alert report, based on the results of surveying 3,714 kids between Nov. 2020-Jan. 2021, explores the attitudes, behaviors, and consumption patterns in online and offline worlds, highlighting the implications for the industry and, of course, identifying the next big thing.

Stay-at-home orders and quarantine measures have impacted all aspects of kids’ ecosystems. Compared to Q4 2019, preschoolers are spending 17% more time watching TV, overtaking time spent playing with toys and games. Since last October, 16% more kids reported having a lot of influence on parents’ grocery purchases, showing how brands must work to reach the whole family audience more effectively. Before the coronavirus pandemic (Sept.-Nov. 2019), 65% of kids under the age of 13 reported visiting a movie theater at least once a month. Following social distancing guidelines and restrictions, this rate has now dropped to 39% of kids ages 3-12.

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New movie releases were a huge driver of licensed products and merchandise, and Kids Insights data shows that those who regularly visited movie theaters in 2019 were, on average, 17% more likely to buy licensed merchandise related to their favorite movie. But with less opportunity available for kids to visit theaters, brands must be creative and agile in finding new ways to engage fans into buying licensed merchandise items.

For example, Marvel recently launched its Eat the Universe collection. The line, inspired by popular characters from the Marvel Universe, includes items such as apparel, homeware, and accessories. Among kids ages 3-12, Iron Man is ranked as the top favorite character (5.6%). Kids at this age over-index on buying these types of licensed merchandise in relation to their favorite movie (clothes +19%, homeware +70%). Since the collection’s release in October, Iron Man has experienced a 109% growth in popularity with tweens.

Source: The Insights Family

The number of kids purchasing food products related to their favorite movie has also grown by 11% between Nov. 2020-Jan. 2021. Whereas kids ages 6-9 are the biggest consumers of TV-related food, kids ages 10-12 are more likely to buy movie-related food products. Observing this growth in the popularity of food products due to stay-at-home orders, Crayola has recently released several branded food products, including a cereal collaboration with Kellogg’s cereal as well as brightly colored popcorn and cotton candy with The License Factory.

Kids ages 3-12 who favor creative toys are four times more likely to name Crayola as their favorite brand, highlighting the company’s monopoly of the arts and crafts product market. Among Crayola’s avid fans (ages 6-9), movies (15%) represent the most popular food licensing categories, suggesting a possible area of development into both platforms for the brand in order to obtain the furthest reach.


With movie studios such as Disney and Warner Bros. announcing that its new releases in 2021 will be available simultaneously on their streaming platforms and in theaters, pre-pandemic strategies remain up in the air. But as our data shows, interest in movie-related licensing products remains strong, and brands could innovate to recreate the movie-going experience at home. There is an opportunity to package and deliver items such as popcorn, toys, magazines, and more to enhance the at-home experience.

For adults who have kids or spend any time with kids, it is apparent how quickly the kids’ media ecosystem is changing. Therefore, over the last six months, The Insights Family — including our team of researchers, data scientists, and developers — have created the Media Mix Compass. This tool enables clients to, for the first time, compare 11 types of media — including cinema, social media, gaming YouTube, broadcast TV — with platforms like TikTok, Cartoon Network, Fortnite, or YouTube. It also highlights the growing importance of other new media options, such as e-sports, which ranks as the most powerful media type for boys ages 10-12 in the U.S.

For more information on the Kids Insights Media Mix Compass — as well as everything The Insights Family has to offer through its real-time data portal — and to receive complimentary access to the tool and a copy of an example report, please visit

This article was originally published in the May 2021 edition of the Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue!

About the author

Nick Richardson

Nick Richardson

Nick Richardson is the founder and CEO of The Insights Family, the global leader in kids, parents, and families market intelligence. He has become a go-to expert and a regular speaker at industry events across the U.S., Europe, and Asia. The Insights Family is the only provider of real-time data and insights on kids’, parents’, and families’ attitudes, behavior, and consumption — surveying more than 362,000 kids and 177,000 parents across five continents every year — to companies such as Amazon, Formula 1, Mattel, and Warner Bros. You can find Richardson on Twitter @nickinsights and Kids Insights @kidsinsights.