India crossed an important milestone of 100 million internet users in November 2011, among whom are millions of kids who represent an important demographic to marketers. Their online behaviour patterns are becoming important to track.
This write-up encapsulates the 10 things we learnt about kids while running a website — a virtual world targeted at 5-12-year-olds — that got over 8.5 lakh users in under a year. While behavior varies from property to property, the patterns we detected could provide a valuable baseline:Pester power: kids don’t have wallets; they pester their parents (95% moms). Parents rarely agree right away; they procrastinate, delay and hope that kids will forget. But kids keep pestering till the parents give in. We measured the number of times kids from different countries visited the site till they become paying members, after their parents gave in (see table).
Kids love to chat: kids were offered ‘canned’ chats (for child protection) — choosing from a preset selection of chats and phrases. But they requested free, un-canned chats. We offered moderator approval of the free chats. Thereafter, time spent per user session went up from 8:11 minutes to 11:33 minutes.
Kids love humour: after games, watching cartoons was the most popular activity.
Kids love fantasy: When Prince William married Kate, the royal wedding outfits were put up ‘on sale’ on the site. Overnight, many user avatars were prancing around wearing the bridal outfit.
Kids respect authority: how do you tell a kid that her chat is being moderated for her safety? You tell her that a policewoman is checking it. As a result, moderators reject only 2% of chats.
Kids love to flaunt: in personalising their avatars and houses by buying outfits and props, kids prefer buying outfits to props by 3:1. Outfits are seen by many; props only by visiting friends.
Kids love surprises: to date, our site’s most popular promotion has been a Christmas tree showering virtual currency as surprise gifts.
Kids prefer being told what to do: the site, originally conceived as an unstructured world where kids could hang out and play with others, had them asking what they should do next.
Kids are impatient: Kids buying virtual assets from a catalogue designed like a scrap book rarely go beyond the first three pages.
Facebook login doesn’t work: only 3% of our users use their Facebook logins.
(The writer is director, Games2win)