Industry News | April 18, 2011 | QSR Exclusive Brief

Marketing to Kids 'Stix' on Minds of Operators

With family dollars and repeat business becoming more important for quick serves to capture, one company hopes its signature product will stick in the minds of operators as they increase their marketing efforts toward children.

Kem Clark, president and owner of Omnicor Inc., says her company’s product, Wikki Stix, is “the clean alternative to crayons.”

“With Wikki Stix, kids can’t scribble all over the menus or the walls or the furniture or the linens,” Clark says. “You drop a crayon on the floor, it’s going to roll, which can become kind of a tripping-and-falling hazard or it’s going to stepped on and broken and then it grinds into the floor.

“Wikkis don’t do any of that. You can’t scribble on anything with them, you can’t make a mess with them, and if they fall on the floor, they stay in tact and you just pick it right back up.”

Wikki Stix are made of strips of yarn infused with a nontoxic, food-grade patented wax. The Stix can be contorted into different shapes and stuck onto paper.

Clark says toys and other products directed toward kids can help a restaurant become a preferred destination for families.

“No parent wants to go through the huge fight of arguing over what restaurant they’re going to go to,” she says. “If little Timmy and little Suzy want to go to XYZ restaurant, it’s just so much easier to capitulate and go there. A restaurant that is trying to expand its family business, get a competitive edge in the family dining market, wants something that will bring the kids back again.”

Clark gives credit to quick serves for having a log-standing tradition of providing activities for kids, and credits McDonald’s as being “very innovative” in its marketing toward kids.

Still, she says, Wikki Stix gives fast feeders a new way to entertain children—one that is not only clean, but also healthy.

“For a number of years I think a lot of [operators] have just set crayons in a cup out on the table, and then you get a little placemat or place sheet or even the kids’ menu to color on, and those crayons are used from child to child to child,” she says, noting the possibilities this scenario presents of spreading sickness.

Along with Wikki Stix, Omnicor Inc. offers place sheets to operators for kids to stick the Stix to. The place sheets can be customized, and can include anything from connect-the-dot pictures—the company has everything from pirates to zoo animals—to kid-friendly jokes.

“We’ve been working with a lot of restaurants on combining the Wikki Stix item with their kids’ meal menu … so that we’re branching out a little bit to provide more than just our standard Wikki Stix units,” Clark says.

By Sam Oches