We can promote change: Viraj Singh, KidZania Mumbai's Minister of Communications

MUMBAI, India. Adgully. January 10, 2013. (English) by Aanchal Kohli. -KidZania is an edutainment concept that combines education and entertainment rendering real life experiences that empower, inspire and educate children. It engages kids between 4 to 14 yrs with environmental stewardship, career exploration and social consciousness activities. Basically, it is an indoor family edutainment centre spread across 75,000 sq. ft. and emulates the workings of a real city and is built to scale for children.  

KidZania provides children a safe, unique, and very realistic educational environment in real life role-play experiences. Complete with buildings, paved streets, vehicles and recognizable role-playing destinations in the form of “establishments”, it will offer kids more than 70 plus role-playing options in its 60 plus establishments.

Adgully caught up with Viraj Singh, CMO, KidZania India to understand their take on entering the Indian market and how they plan to take it ahead.

When asked about the mission and vision of KidZania, he said, “We believe we can promote change, inspire global citizenship and build strong community awareness among our children through an experience that is hands-on, engaging, educational, and most importantly, fun.”

Looking at the entire KidZania culture  the question arises as to how and why KidZania will be a hit in India. Answering this query Singh explained that KidZania is an exceptionally unique concept which is never been experienced before in India. Other than the premise of it’s global success and the fact that the concept works across markets, cultures and  kids of all traditions and habits – India is also ready for an edutainment concept like KidZania. He believes that Indians have now become global citizens and are looking at differentiated experiences and KidZania fills in that need gap to begin with.

India being the 2nd largest populated country, has 31% teenagers aged 14yrs and younger as per the study conducted by CIA World fact book 2011. Hence the scope is wide with a young audience ready to experiment with a new genre of learning and fun.

Looking at the upsurge and increased purchasing power in Indian households and their awareness about the global market, the decision of entering India seemed to be a good one. Mr. Singh says, “When we look at the kids entertainment category there is a void. While there are entertainment destinations of all sorts there is none that is designed and developed especially for kids and mostly focus only on the entertainment aspect.”

Parents and teachers are always looking for new ways to motivate and inspire children and KidZania with its hands-on, engaging and educational concept is perfect to address those needs. Brands too are looking for new and authentic ways to connect with families.

Speaking about the need for KidZania to partner with Brands, Singh said, “Brands bring realism and authenticity to the whole experience. KidZania is also a great platform for brands in creating a sustainable engagement with kids. We work closely with our partners so that kids undergo an experience which resembles the activities that the brand and its operations have in reality.”
It is all about the experience as kids don’t just consume a product, they examine it, create it, build it, deliver it, buy it and sell it. It’s an ideal setting for educating children on how products are made and services are delivered. At KidZania, kids interact with brands at all levels in a seamlessly comprehensive way.

KidZania as a concept is a game changer, with the perfect mix of education, entertainment, CSR, and marketing. It was conceptualized taking careful consideration of how to blend all the aspects so that they work together rather than any one aspect overshadowing the other.

“We don’t want it to be dogmatic and less fun, or just entertainment with no learning. Also we don’t want it to be a showcase or exhibition of brands, but a seamless integration of brands within the concept,” Singh adds.

Partner participation enriches the activity and improves further realism into the concept. It also allows financially feasibility. Each establishment is sponsored by a relevant and genuine brand of the real world. For e.g. a Supermarket brand would best know the functions at a supermarket from inventory management, to stock placement and the role of a cashier hence they become the best partners to help achieve an authentic shopping experience and help kids understand the relationship of purchasing and shopping. He says, “This is why it is so important for us to find the right brand partners who acknowledge the current gap in edutainment space, understand the importance of preparing kids for the real world, and believe in our philosophy of education and self development through role play.”

“KidZania is not just a unique marketing opportunity; it is an ‘experiential’ one. A famous Chinese proverb says “Tell me and I forget; show me and I remember; involve me and I understand”. That’s what brands are able to do at KidZania. We work closely with the partners so that kids undergo an experience which resembles the activities that the brand and its operations have in reality,” Singh added.

KidZania has over 516 brand partnerships across its centers globally. They have also successfully partnered with over 516 brands worldwide. Brands like Unilever, Nestlé, Cadburys, DHL, Sony, Hyundai have partnered across multiple centres in the same country and also across countries after realising  the benefits the partnership has.

CSR is an integral part of their brand philosophy and many brands have extended their partnerships beyond the sponsored establishment. As a part of its CSR initiatives Autobacs Seven a retailer of automotive parts and accessories in Japan partnered them on the car maintenance establishment to promote creation of safer car society. Coca-Cola in Dubai a partner on the bottling plant activity has also extended its partnership to KidZania. ‘KidZ for a Greener World’ campaign underlines the importance of environmental stewardship and recycling.  Air Asia, conducted a CSR activity where part of the ticket value along with gifts were donated to u1nder-privileged kids.

KidZania Go! is their outreach program that takes the KidZania experience out of the centre. KidZania has worked with many brands to conduct tailor-made, customized activations in schools, fairs, etc. Positive image building, is another reason why brands partner with KidZania. Brands leverage KidZania platform and are thereby seen as a responsible brand that reaches out to children towards their self-development.

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