‘Divercity’ and the Young Consumer in Lima [CRITICAL REVIEW]
Programming a Consumer
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 parentes.. 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.
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.
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’.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.