Children communicate in a different way from adults. Therefore, to investigate children’s view of brand worlds, methods are necessary which allow the children to retain their magical thinking. At QUAL 360, the only international congress event to specialize in qualitative market research, Dirk Ziems from concept m together with Cornelia Krebs from the RTL Media Group presented new research findings based on innovative projective techniques. Interviews with children require a different setting to give them room to express their world as a child. Differentiated expression is possible in paintings, in apparently incidental pastimes, by playing with toys like e.g. dolls.For brand and communication research with children, concept m uses a modified form of the classic Scenotest, a test with play figures which has proved its value in psycho-diagnostics for around 60 years. The children are asked to set up scenes with play figures that have something to do with the brand. For the Sceno Play test, they are provided with a wide set of human figures and animal figures, houses, trees etc. whose symbolic meaning is validated. For example, the tiger represents danger and aggression, the monkey stands for activity and clowning around, the cow for supply.The children can invent a new commercial for the brand and present this in a play scene. Or they can devise plots for computer games. The brand heroes are involved in adventure stories where they prove themselves and their strengths in certain acts of heroism. Or they are seen in a passive role and just stand around on the side-lines in the play scene. The roles, dynamics and attributes to appear in the play scenes are very valuable indications of the unconscious impact of brands. Over a course of different interviews with children, a certain trend emerges on the role attributed to the brand and its hero.

The method of the Sceno Play test is an excellent device for diagnosing the status quo of brands as well as brand families. It is also very suitable for developing communication routes for future TV commercials.

At the QUAL 360 congress, concept m presented the practical value of the Sceno Play test based on the findings of interviews regarding TV commercials for Punica and Hohes C. Key result of this case example: a current jungle and waterfall commercial from Punica may have great appeal for the children at first because it occupies the position of autonomy and adventure. However, the execution of the action story makes the wrong signals since the main protagonist is shown as an uncertain hero who is unable to cope. In the Sceno Play test the children developed alternative commercials which strengthen the hero and show the role of the brand in a positive light.

By comparison, a treehouse commercial from Hohes C occupies the position of intact catering for the family. The commercial does not transport the children into an exciting fantasy world but shows how typical problems with siblings can be reconciled with the “harmonizer” Hohes C.

In the play scenes the children construct for the commercial in the Sceno Play test, the squabbling siblings stand out, but also the conciliatory and consoling role of the juice from Hohes C.

We will be glad to provide more information about this research on request: dirk.ziems@conceptm.eu

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