children's amenity kits

Buzz Products has developed an array of kits for kids. Image via Buzz Products

APEX Insight: Boosting children’s amenity kits with blockbuster star power has been popular, but can airlines turn signature amenity kit characters into stars?

The cutest onscreen odd couple in flight these days has to be Molang and Piu Piu, a boisterous rabbit and a shy chick whose adventures include everything from camel rides to trips to the moon. Created by Millimages, Molang, the animated series starring the duo, has skyrocketed to success with a number of airlines, including Air France, Emirates, Cathay Pacific and Air Transat.

Merchandise for the series has taken off, too, with Molang-themed stickers, sneakers, toys and more being made available to fans – just not on airlines … yet. According to Lise Cosentino, international sales manager for the Paris-based studio, the company is in “advanced negotiations with several airlines” regarding the development of kids packs.

“Curated licensed partnerships can deliver instant recognition and appeal from desirable brands.” – Miranda Hill, Buzz Products

Buzz Products has made several blockbuster kids kits for airlines, including Disney Tsum Tsum kits for Saudi Arabian Airlines and Star Wars packs for Singapore Airlines. “Curated licensed partnerships can deliver instant recognition and appeal from desirable brands,” says Miranda Hill, Buzz’s kids expert. A little familiarity can go a long way with young flyers who may lose patience on a long trip or be flying for the first time. Affiliation with family-friendly brands like Disney can also have a halo effect on the airline and help to foster loyalty at an early age.

In the movie category, Star Wars merchandise landed atop the $20.7 billion toy-industry haul in the United States last year. More than one-third of toy sales are tied to entertainment properties, a figure that’s jumped 23 percent over the last decade, BMO Capital Markets finds. Buzz’s airline amenity catalog mirrors the upward trend, with up to 40 percent of its kids merchandise linked to movies at one point.

Brand recognition may drive this trend, but the need for brand differentiation could see airlines move in another direction. “Currently, more of our airline partners are choosing to utilize custom-designed characters building on their own brands,” Hill says. Following the success of Emirates’ Fly With Me Monsters, Buzz developed Fly With Me Animals – a suite of cuddly collectibles with backstories. Introduced last Christmas, Noel the polar bear comes with a card that unlocks a 3-D augmented reality (AR) experience – starring Noel – on the Emirates Kids AR app. And with that, an airline star is born.

“Toying With Tie-Ins” was originally published in the 8.4 September/October issue of APEX Experience magazine.

Katie is a writer for APEX Media, based in Toronto, Ontario.