Thursday, January 30, 2020

Nickelodeon to Roll-Out Eco-Friendly La Bala Consumer Product Line

When it comes to going green, consumer products have led the movement in the kids industry. Toy companies got the ball rolling early on being more environmentally friendly, with major players like Hasbro announcing initiatives as early as 2010.

Musical instruments could be a category Nickelodeon explores for its La Bala CP program.

And while those first programs focused on reducing the amount of paper and plastic used in packaging, more recently licensees and manufacturers are turning their attention to baking in an eco-friendly ethos into the very DNA of their brands.

Nickelodeon is taking this tack with its consumer products strategy for Isabella de La Torre (known as La Bala), the YouTube star Nickelodeon Latin America signed an exclusive global representation agreement in 2019. Under this agreement, Nickelodeon will work with La Bala to develop her musical career and propel her career internationally on multiple platforms, including consumer products, music, short-and-long form original productions, social networks, live events and editorial, among others. Nickelodeon Latin America is working on a comprehensive strategy for the talented influencer, including multiple merchandising agreements with promotional partners covering various categories such as fashion, accessories and much more.

Cristian Cabero, Nickelodeon Latin America's Senior Vice President (SVP) of Consumer Products and Location Based Experiences (LBE), revealed to Kidscreen his team took inspiration from the ways in which de La Torre works green products into her everyday life when they began developing the CP range.

For example, she travels with a reusable cup to avoid single-use plastics, so Nickelodeon is aiming to create products that are similarly sustainable, as well as reducing the amount of packaging used for the entire line. These efforts aren’t designed to stand out—being eco-friendly should now be assumed and something La Torre’s fans expect from their purchases.

In fact, a 2018 study from research firm GreenMatch found that 72% of Gen Z consumers would spend more money on a service if it was sustainably produced, and those same respondents also reported a strong preference for switching to brands with sustainable initiatives. The study also found kids are willing to boycott companies that do not align with their values. And these stats came before millions of people (Gen Zers among them) protested for climate change solutions in September last year. What’s more, a 2019 report from Research and Markets found kids have a direct spending power of as much as US$143 billion, and an indirect spending power of US$600 billion. That’s a lot of reasons to go green.

Initial categories for La Bala’s consumer products program will include apparel, accessories, publishing and back-to-school, with the first items scheduled to hit shelves in Mexico this summer. By the end of the year, Nickelodeon plans to expand throughout LatAm and launch additional categories like bedding and electronic accessories.

De La Torre first learned about environmental issues and sustainability through social media, she says. “It’s unbelievable how many things are happening because of climate change, and people think it’s normal. We have to work now, and I’ve been using my voice to spread awareness.”

But de La Torre’s entire life doesn’t revolve around environmental efforts. She’s like most teenagers, which means her time is split between a number of interests.

“There are a lot of things she’s passionate about,” says Tatiana Rodriguez, Nickelodeon’s Senior Vice President (SVP) of Programming and Creative Strategy. “She also loves music and art, so we’re working to incorporate all of those things into the products [with equal importance.]”

The biggest obstacle, Cabera says, is waiting for the technology behind manufacturing processes to catch up to the company’s (and de La Torre’s) aspirations. “There are limitations,” he says. “We must deliver a good-quality product at a price that is accessible to the consumer.”

Nickelodeon is also looking at sustainable clothing, which saw the network partner with Trashcode in 2018 and, most recently, partner with JNR Nation in Australia to launch an eco-friendly clothing line inspired by Nickelodeon star JoJo Siwa.

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