Harry Potter is the hot brand on kids' Christmas lists for 2019. So what’s keeping the magic alive?
The brands our Beano.com audience would most like to receive among their Christmas presents this year? Along with the likes of Nike, LEGO and Netflix is Harry Potter, which consistently features on kids' lists.
More than 12 years after JK Rowling’s last book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out, the franchise still captivates new generations – kept alive by book reprints and film repeats. The series that once enchanted millennials now has the same effect on their kids. Here’s why.
1. Kids identify with the story: few book series captivate kids the way Harry Potter does. From our Beano.com school workshops to our weekly Trendspotter interviews (our panel of kids are aged 9-12), we know kids are glued to the books:
Lily is on book 4 of Harry Potter (The Goblet Of Fire). ‘I can’t stop reading it.’
They can relate to the shy, quiet boy starting a new school and embark on his journey of magic, friendship and hope, experiencing excitement, adventures and humour along the way.
These themes are universal and have global appeal – the books are published in 79 languages with more than 450 million copies sold across the world. A fascination with British culture, particularly in countries such as the US, means Harry’s world of castles and boarding school life is a particular draw (the last book in the series Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows broke all publishing records in the US, selling 8.3 million copies in 24 hours).
2. Scary content rules: the plots get more complex and sinister in each new instalment but kids enjoy pushing their own limits with frightening content, as they encounter mythical giant snakes and dark wizards, alongside very real issues faced by the characters such as pain, loss, bullying and racism.
3. Communities drive appeal: Kids friendship groups drive engagement with the brand, as they develop shared interests:
‘Me and Isla have Harry Potter in common. Freya got the [LEGO] Hogwarts Express and so did I!’ Asena
This is also true of online fan sites. Kids who have never read a Harry Potter book or seen a film become aware of the series online via TikTok compilation videos, YouTube vloggers like Alana King posting fandom videos, and fan sites such as MuggleNet and The Leaky Cauldron.
4. Kids can live and breathe their idol: From themed shops (such as Canterbury’s Harry Potter House of Secrets) to high street lines (Primark has now added bedding to its vast themed selection) there’s plenty of opportunity for kids to surround themselves with Potter paraphernalia. They can also wear the clothing including cloaks, scarves, T-shirts, onesies and socks, which helps them develop identity.
Asena spoke to us this week from her Harry Potter-themed bedroom including Ravenclaw and Gryffindor banners, a Hogwarts Crest and a platform 9 3/4 sign, while wearing her Harry Potter PJs.
It was Meredith's birthday this week. She got lots of Harry Potter stuff including a Golden Snitch.
5. It’s not just a brand, it’s an experience: Not content with being passive onlookers, kids want to participate. Beano for Brands' Generation Alpha study of kids born in or after 2010 (the year the iPad launched) reveals that they have an appetite for real-world experiences, such as The Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros Studios. While three Harry Potter theme parks have sprung up in Florida and Hollywood, further fuelling the fandom among US kids:
Sam visited the Harry Potter Studios during a trip to London. His favourite bits were the Forbidden Forest, the Great Hall and trying Butterbeer.
Games such as Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery app enable players to customise their own Hogwarts student and learn spells – both of which tap into kids’ key motivations of personalisation and mastery.
6. Collecting stuff is key: Kids love to curate their own collections, and the Potter empire gives them ample opportunity to do this, whether it’s wands from the films, or matching sets of the books, of which there have been many reprints. Amassing a collection helps kids develop a sense of identity.
Judging by this year’s must-have LEGO Knight Bus and Niantic’s new AR launch Wizards Unite, Pottermania shows no sign of slowing down. But if this drives more kids to discover Harry and JK Rowling’s books, that’s the real magic.
Dumbledore would approve.
How we can help your brand understand kids
Beano for Brands is a kid-first consultancy and agency for brands seeking to connect with a new generation who are already rewriting the rules of engagement, creativity and even the world around them.
Our fortnightly reports are drawn from a wide range of touch points with real kids and families: Trendspotters (a UK-wide panel aged 9-12), insight and analytics from Beano.com – the UK’s fastest-growing kids’ site, external research and 81 years of working with kids. Sign up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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