As you read this, most South Africans seem to know what Stikeez (#stikeez, #pnpstikeez, #collectables, #pnp) are.
Those who are unfamiliar with these collectables are impressively immune to a marketing campaign that has spread like a virus amongst consumers – both willing and unwilling to be effected by this colourful epidemic.
Collectable Stikeez, Pick ‘n Pay’s ingenious marketing tool, has many South Africans changing their shopping routines to buy their groceries from the retailer. Customers receive one Stikee for every R150’s worth of groceries bought from Pick ‘n Pay. Customers also qualify for additional Stikeez when purchasing specially marked items in stores.
A marketing campaign that appeals to all ages
Advertising and marketing around Stikeez are aimed directly at children and indirectly at adults. As parents well know, when marketing to children is successful, one way of appeasing their children is to give in and purchase the advertised item.
Seasoned marketing analyst, Chris Moerdyk, refers to this phenomenon as the “pester power” of children and confirms that it influences parents’ purchases in a number of seemingly unlikely ways. According to Moerdyk, children are responsible for 40% of their parents’ decision about the colour of a new car.
However, it is not only children who are enticed by the Stikeez campaign. Many adults also want to collect them.
The science behind Stikeez
Science may have one explanation for why Stikeez appeal to South Africans both young and old.
According to evolutionary biology and ethology (i.e. the study of animal behaviour), the physical appearances of dependent newborns has evolved in such a way as to elicit caring responses from three important sources, namely:
- the newborn’s parents
- other members of their species, and in some cases
- members of other species.
The evolved physical traits are argued to increase the chances that the animal parent or guardian will bond with, protect, feed and raise the offspring until the youngster is able to fend for itself in the wild.
The offspring’s physical traits are what we commonly refer to as “cute” and when it comes to survival of species, It really does pay to be “cute”.
Here is a short list of physical traits (Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfedlt) which humans identify as “cute”. They are, namely a:
- large head relative to body size, rounded head,
- large, protruding forehead,
- large eyes relative to face, eyes below midline of head,
- rounded, protruding cheeks,
- rounded body shape, and
- soft, elastic body surfaces.
As you may have noticed, many of these features are applicable to the Stikeez collectables. Some characteristics apply more than others – depending on which Stikee you are looking at.
Establishing an emotional connection and the power of nostalgia
From an emotional point-of-view, Stikeez have the potential to transport adults back to childhood in subtle (perhaps unconscious) ways. The excitement around opening a Stikeez packet and discovering which figurine is inside may remind us of the pleasure of unwrapping gifts when younger and having access to colourful toys or games that we have come to associate with happiness.
Stikeez fever reaches a final new high
Stikeez fever is particularly heightened at present, as we approach the end of this tremendously successful promotion on Sunday, 20 September 2015.
Judging from some of the negative Stikeez-related articles that have appeared in the news recently, I imagine that many parents and school teachers will be breathing a sigh of relief once this promotion draws to a close.
Have you collected a complete set of Stikeez? What are your thoughts on the Stikeez phenomenon? Let me know in the comment section below.
Josh (2013, 11 September) Why Babies and Other Things Are Cute, Explained. Available online: http://www.stuffyoushouldknow.com/blog/babies-cute-explained/ . Last accessed: Sunday, 13 September 2015
Kate (2008, 27 October) A Biological Homage to Mickey Mouse. The Science of Cute. Available online: http://scienceofcute.blogspot.co.za/2008/10/biological-homage-to-mickey-mouse.html . Last accessed: Sunday, 13 September 2015
Narsee. A.J., and Davids, N. (2015, 01 September). Kids stuck on Stikeez a headache for parents. Timeslive.co.za. Available online: http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2015/09/01/Kids-stuck-on-Stikeez-a-headache-for-parents . Last accessed: Sunday, 13 September 2015
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