Kids, Tweens, and Teens lovin’ Brands in Virtual World?
So what’s going to stimulate an increase in people buying virtual goods?
Firstly, I think kids, tweens and teens (KT&T) will play a big part in the growth. This group has ‘less of an issue’ paying real money for virtual goods – their decision-making process does not take into account its a virtual good – they just want the product and see technology as invisible.
So worlds targeting KT&T (kids, tweens, teens) clearly have a major opportunity to create strong revenues here, as long as the products are right. But which types of product are right?
Obviously the ones that are demanded are the right sorts of products. But what is this demand? Certainly in the younger worlds and to a certain degree in older worlds, some virtual goods are viewed as status symbols – a ‘badge’ that sends out a message that the owner (wearer) has something unique / purchased / earned, that others do not have. And in this context, there’s a lot of perceived value associated with the item.
Luxury brands in the real world have very similar values. Luxury brands are status symbols with high price elasticity and of course perceived value. So due to this similarity, perhaps the inclusion of real world luxury brands into virtual worlds will act as a catalyst for more widespread usage and adoption. Using the brand attitude map helps to explain this thinking…
Personally – i think there is a different between luxury brands with kids/tweens & luxury brands for teens.
Kids/Tweens have less “ownership” and responsibility and ABILITY than teens do. For tweens the status is more broad than teens – who care less about the meaning & depth of an item and more about what “luxury” means to them.
Tweens/Kids seem much happier to own the item itself, as well as show it off and play with it. They remind me more of Dragons & Treasure. As in many tales of lore (oh, how I love the folksy stuff), Dragons want want want, then horde it all. It’s as much of a self-congratulations in ownership as it is a play thing or show-n-tell.
Teens are more “look at me, look at me” (to quote Kat in “Ten Things I Hate About You”). The name of the item and the social-style-competition is much bigger a pay off than the actual day-to-day use or “play time”.
In the virtual worlds, from what I’ve seen, kids are just as psyched to EARN/PURCHASE as they are own – and just like kids playing with their clutter in real life, kids yearn to earn all sorts of silliness that moms & dads won’t buy them in the real world. Empowerment.
And in the teen worlds – it’s the display of the purchase and how it makes others around react that shows the “BIG” payoff.
So, sure – Luxury brands are thirst-quenching for teens in regards to name brands, etc, and yes, that name brand carries some weight to tweens. But with tweens, it seems to be more about the act of ownership that’s exciting, and what flares that excitement more is when the object they wish to attain is also represented in the REAL world. The whole “next best thing” and “close enough to be real.” Perhaps its some sort of recognition for tweens/kids? They need to “mind map” virtual items to be just like REAL items, and when actual existing-brands are offered – the “mind map” hard work is lessened, and the energy doubled.
Bridging fantasy to reality, and reality back to fantasy – isn’t that a tween’s entire existence?
Now, I must say before finishing this – that there is a whole opposite argument to be made. Is purchase-empowerment even RIGHT for tweens/kids? Sure, they may get some sort of sugar fix and maybe a grain of empowerment, but what does that say about our culture? Do we feed empowerment to youth through microtransfixes and materialism?
Yikes. There’s a whole ball of beans there for people who wish to debate such things. And, being a contrarian as I am (contrary + an = someone who tends to like to be contrary with the turn of the wind), it would be a fun argument to battle out on BOTH sides. Businesses, parents groups, marketers, anti-marketers, what-have-you… everyone has some shape of a valid argument. Kudos.
And yet, at the end of the day, the only one who can solve all issues = the parents. Parents have the decision right to allow such games to be played, they also have the power to educate and guide their kids into understanding the value & dangers of such play patterns. Always remember …. “The More You Know…” + subsequent music (thanks NBC).
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