We're Not Talking Kid Stuff--the Booming Children's Market Is Serious Business, And Franchisees Are Reaping The Rewards.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The franchising industry is aging beautifully, but there's one segment of it that stays forever young. Youthful, energetic, ever-growing and impulsive, the kids' market definitely reflects its target population. While kids hold the key to our future, they also control their parents' purse strings. American families spend approximately $115.6 billion a year on their children for food, clothing, personal-care items, entertainment and reading materials, according to a 2006 report by Packaged Facts. This figure is expected to increase to $143 billion by 2010. Meanwhile, the buying power of kids themselves now tops $18 billion. Kids may be small in size, but spending by them, around them and for them represents a powerful market opportunity too big to be ignored. Much of the reason the children's market has taken off is the fact that the traditional single-income family is rapidly disappearing. "[There is] increased attention on children and the idea, especially in dual working households, of parents trying to juggle work time, quality time and family time," says Paul Kurnit, founder of KidShop, a marketing communications firm specializing in the youth market. At the same time, today's parents want to provide their children with every possible advantage and believe this can be achieved through their participation in a variety of extracurricular activities. "The whole dynamic has changed dramatically from the '50s and '60s, [when] children were seen and not heard, to today's children being very active members of the family," says Kurnit.

The franchise industry has long been meeting the demands created by dual-income families with active children. From serving the most basic of kids' needs by offering day care to dishing out the fun with ice cream parties, all the bases are covered when it comes to kids. Kid-related franchises are at the top of their game, and the growth spurt has been most significant in three categories: sports, education and parties.

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