By Sam Evans, AE, Bite UK Consumer Team
In the past week, the Consumer team has spent time getting to know our clients’ audiences better. By achieving a greater understanding of what motivates, excites and inspires them, and what does not, we can do a more sophisticated and accurate job of reaching them and engaging with them through the content we create.
In particular, the team working on Spil Games attended an evening of focus groups with parents in central London. For Spil, we’ve been tasked with reaching the ‘tween’ demographic (that’s youngsters aged 8-12) to spread the word about Spil’s library of free games designed for desktop and mobile play – a safe environment where this age group can have fun, learn new skills and act out their future lives. The groups took place in a specially kitted out suite where we could unobtrusively listen in and observe from behind a tinted window. By hearing directly from groups of UK parents about the habits and preferences of their children and their own roles as the gatekeepers of their children’s online activities, we were able to gain invaluable insight into the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to raising ‘tweens’ and growing up as one in the UK today. It’s a fair few years since I was one, that’s for sure!
Granting us the perspective of an ‘outside eye’, we heard about the parents’ experiences of entertaining their children, and their hopes and fears when it comes to ‘getting it right’ as a parent in this internet era. The opinions and feelings we heard will be of great use to inform not only the PR and marketing efforts moving forward, but also to influence the bare bones of how the product is literally developed in the future.
A main point I took away was the tension that exists between wanting to protect their children and seeking to provide them with the independence they need to become confident, functioning individuals. This is what makes online games where ‘tweens’ can act out a career or save up ‘money’ to manage and spend ‘shopping’ so popular – they create an alternate reality which is both fun and developmentally stimulating. The parents we heard from were particularly concerned about negative influences from celebrity culture and the media which they felt contributed to an ‘old before their time’ syndrome. A balance definitely needs to be struck here. What was great to hear was that many of them have heard their children talking about aspiring to be the next big Olympic athlete as a result of London 2012.
The learnings from the evening reiterated to me the huge opportunity that this age-group represents for the gaming industry. The girls of ‘Generation Z’ wield nearly £30 billion in spending power and they consume, on average, a phenomenal 7.5 hours of media every single day, two hours of which are spent on a mobile device. It also emphasised just how carefully publishers need to be when catering for them.
If I were to create a check-list for games publishers (and to refer to as our campaign progresses) it would look something like the below:
- Keep your finger on the pulse of trends. There’s no other age group quite like it when it comes to fast-changing fads
- Always remain aware of the parents’ point of view and include them in your strategy. Parents need to be kept in the loop with easy to find terms, privacy policies and jargon-free language
- ‘Tweens’ are notoriously hard to please and will be your biggest critics – maintain high standards of quality and provide regular updates to games such as new levels or bonuses to create sustained engagement
- As a generation of digital natives, tweens are tech-savvy and highly connected. With 50 per cent owning smartphones, mobile and social is their bread and butter so should be at the forefront of activity
If you want to take a look at some of the games in Spil Games’ portfolio, which averages about 200 million unique visits per month, then take a look at http://www.girlsgogames.co.uk