‘Divercity’ and the Young Consumer in Lima [CRITICAL REVIEW]

‘Divercity’ and the Young Consumer in Lima [CRITICAL REVIEW]
May 13, 2012 Lainie Liberti

Programming a Consumer

Miro holding his Divercity cash & credit card, primed for the system.

Start them young.  Brand engagement  is an essential necessity for any successful business. I know, I used to be a branding professional.

Divercity takes this concept to heart and makes a healthy profit in the making.

But the profit is not just in the form of making money on these children & their parents.. It’s through creating a future loyal customers through artificial engagement.

Lima, the capital of Peru has an addition to its list of child attractions. Divercity is the located at the Jockey Plaza Shopping Center, the heart of Lima’s consumerism culture. The Jockey Plaza is a high-end mall with a list of the usual suspects Apple’s iStore, Diesel Jeans, Armani Exchange to name a few.

All of Peru’s most popular brands in miniature designed for the perfect child brand experience.

Divercity is spread over an area of 7,000 square km. This artificial mini-city is a pint size consumer experience designed especially for children. Children between the ages of 3 to 13 are offered admittance, at a hefty 40 soles per child (which is expensive by Peru’s standards). Adults are allowed to accompany their children into the center for 10 soles, but once in, are forbidden to enter any of the attractions.

Having an enjoyable time in relationship to a brand guarantees a new generation of a brand consumer.

Upon entering Divercity, kids become a citizen of this magical land and their game begins. The object to the game (as in the game of life) is to visit all the options available, get a career, earn money then spend it.  Kids having fun acting as an adult.  Twisted, right? Depends from who’s point of view you are coming from.

Upon entering Divercity, each child is required to open up a bank account at BCP, a minuture version of leading bank brand, here in Peru. The child is first required to open up an account and issued a play ATM card and account passbook. Moneys in this magical place  is called ‘Divi’s’. 

Miro learning about 3M Scotch brand products (who thought that would be fun, besides 3M Scotch Brands Co.?)

Divercity offers more that 60 different jobs to choose from. They are each sponsored by a brand. Some don’t even try to mask the fact that the child just walked into an interactive commercial where others use a reward system thereby offering their product as positive reenforcement. Upon entering the center, children choose the type of work they want to commit to for the next 12  to 15 minutes of their life. They enter into the themed vocation. Miro tried his luck at a cereal making factory, working for 3M Scotch brand tape, training at the Huggies baby center, and working at a miniature mine to name a few. Other options available were journalist, chef school, become a fashion model or a famous soccer player.  After each child receives their training course, they earn cash (and a brand engagement).  The child can deposit their earnings at the bank (consumerism).

Miro learning how to be a detective sponsored by one of Peru’s largest mobile phone networks Claro. Hmmm..

Establishing Early Brand Relationships

For a brand, it’s about relationships. Brands strive to communicate their message effectively to their target audience on a regular basis. It’s difficult in a sea of a million messages, and competing brands launching clever ways to penetrate a crowded mind-space. But starting young is a full proof plan for any brand, and I suspect these brands at Divercity pay a hefty fee for that privilege.

Miro learned how the cereal factory made the sugary processed stuff they pawn off as being food. Miro was the only one in the bunch who was not into this. Loyal consumers for life?

Brand Loyalty starts at an early age

Approaching the children’s market can be a minefield, but investing time and funds to get your message across can pay off handsomely.

According to Marketing Week:

Children’s spending power is booming. Marketing consultant Martin Lindstrom estimates children’s global purchase influence to be $1.88 trillion (£1.29 trillion). Moreover, young people are often seen as early adopters for many digital and direct media technologies, according to last year’s Buckingham Report on the commercial world and children.

Direct marketers that properly research and execute work targeting children and families may well be able to build future brand loyalty among young people. The Buckingham Report indicates that children exert a lot of influence on their parents’ purchasing activity as well as being consumers in their own right.

Miro waiting in line with the other children for their voluntary brand brainwashing session.

However, there is something to be said with having a grown up world to play in. When I was a child, I remember playing house, hospital, zoo and many of the activities offered here. I see the value of having a place like this for children to play…. just wish it was an advertisement-free zone.

Even the social services were sponsored by health group brands. Miro volunteers to be the victim in the ambulance rescue mission, but really, all these kids were the victim.

Branders know, that the most lasting and memorable engagement are usually emotional and enjoyable. If you create an experience where the person is actually having a wonderful time, and if you can imprint their brand on their brain during this experience, you’ve made a positive brand impression. These brand impressions live deep in everyone’s subconscious but do have lasting effects which usually translate into some form of brand loyalty.

Folks, Branding 101 is live and well at Divercity.

Miro being rescued by the children in this branded role playing game.

It’s an interesting concept as well to see all the children empowered in this little world. Adults are only allowed sit wait outside of each of the classrooms for their child. It’s rather interesting from that observational point of view as I sat for a combined 3 1/2 hours in front of each event as Miro went through his voluntary brainwashing. Actually that’s not correct. Being a conscious  advertising and media-literate parent one of the best gifts I could give my child.

How many brand names can you count in this extremely happy looking version of manipulated reality?

When Miro was young I taught him how to watch commercials to decipher the point of view from each one. We made it into a game:

Q: What is this commercial communicating to you that you have lacking in your life?

A: (always had to be a feeling or emotion) I am lacking ‘fun’ or I am lacking ‘excitement’.

Once Miro was able to find the point of ‘lack’ I’d  follow it up with this question:

IS IT TRUE?

Then we’d find 3-5 things in his life to prove the message of lack was NOT true.

It worked for us and Miro eventually tired of the game, but on many levels, I’ve taught him to question everything including blind allegiance to a product or brand and how to be a conscious consumer.

Finally with the Divercity money Miro earned from taking all the sessions, he spent his cash on the rock climbing. Think that was brand free? Think again.

The children and families are being exploited & victimized at Divercity.

But most are simply not aware.

But isn’t this just a microcosm of the real world, you ask? I believe this is the case, but most do not enter the center with such awareness. As families walk through the door at Divercity, they complainant with a predatory experience. And most are not aware of this unspoken agreement which in turn is a form of exploitation.

Miro successfully climbed the rock formation twice and felt like he accomplished a lot. To ‘reward’ him for his achievement, Miro was ‘rewarded’ with a sausage dog from a popular brand here in Peru. How’s that for a manufactured rewarding experience?

A little awareness goes a long way, in our diversity of thought.

Miro wanted me to add, he doesn’t recommend this place to anyone. There you have it. Out of the mouths of babes…

I’d love to hear your thoughts, please leave your comments below.

12 Comments

  1. Wow that is so disturbing.  I do my best to try to limit the consumer messages in our lives, and when we do see something I talk about it with the kids.  One of the games we play is to do voice overs to commercials “Oh, look at me! If I put this on my face I will be beautiful” sort of thing.  I like how you talk to Miro about how it makes you feel lacking and how to explore that feeling.

    • Author
      ilainie 9 years ago

      Thanks Amy! It’s about focusing consciousness to what’s going on around you. Can’t avoid consumerism entirely. 😉

  2. Guess my name 10 years ago

    Wow. I am so going there. I’d like to see what they have on mining and that.

  3. Sabrinagentner 10 years ago

    Aaarrrrgggh! We are so adamant about avoiding social programming that we do not have a tv! I’m sure you don’t have one either as you are so very busy with life and reading. This is an impressive article representing all the things we do not want in our lives. Otto, my 8 year old son, and I are so excited to find like thinkers. We feel isolated in the states, almost like we are different entities in our own country. But, we are planning another venture soon. We will be heading to Costa Rica and I would love to visit Peru. We will definitely avoid “Diversity.”
    Love your adventures!
    Sabrina and Otto
    Lake Tahoe

    • Author
      ilainie 9 years ago

      It’s ok as long as you and your children are conscious of the intentions. You can’t avoid consumerism as long as you are living on this planet, but being conscious about the influences are important. Yes, avoid Diversity. 

  4. Ryan McCoy 10 years ago

    I can see where the companies are coming from, and in some ways how this might make a nation more productive…but there is just something off putting about that place.

    • Author
      ilainie 9 years ago

      Agreed. Depends on your point of view. It’s either a huge success, or a huge failure. What does your conscious say? (you know my point of view. )

  5. ... ... 9 years ago

    I’m disgusted by our growing Peruvian consumerism. I don’t want my daughter to be a ‘loyal consumer’ and be trapped into the brand loyalty spiderweb set by both foreign corporations and our government. Let’s teach our kids they don’t have to pay to have fun. It’s the same Peruvian system that makes us pay 50$ for a book that is only 10$ in the US or Europe. Keeping the ppl numb & consumming like crazy’s leading us into a dangerous direction. Yeah Divercity looks good, but all that glitters is not gold.

    • Author
      ilainie 9 years ago

      I know.. it’s not a commentary on Peru, it’s more of a commentary of the general sense of consumerism. 

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