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Kids are online shoppers too

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Friday July 13, 2007 )

A survey of over 6,00 children aged 8-14 shows a staggering 77% of kids in this age bracket have participated in ecommerce transactions. This is not only important information for merchants, but also for parents.

An interesting point was over half the children surveyed stated they perform online shopping chores to help their mom.

So, how do they pay?

27% have asked someone to complete payment details for them
26% have used a gift card
23% have used their parent’s credit card
15% stated the transaction went on their parents bill
8% used their own credit card (??)
7% used funds from their own allowance

The 8% with their own credit card statistic puzzled me. They let kids have their own credit cards that young??

Dr. Adele Schwartz from Stars for Kidz, the research company that ran the survey, stated it’s becoming apparent that busy parents and their tech-savvy children are joining forces as online shoppers and building brand loyalty specifically among children is something that all marketers should be reconsidering.

This is something that companies like McDonalds have been doing for many years. They certainly understand that kids do have a fair amount (perhaps too much) sway over their parents when it comes to purchasing decisions.

OK, so we need to bear in mind that kids may be shopping our sites along with their parents; purchasing for them on their behalf and perhaps address that, which is fine – but this study also provides a flag that we need to keep an eye on our children so they don’t get themselves into hot water with online purchases. There are some merchants out there specifically preying on the impulsive behavior of the young ‘uns.

A classic example are ringtones and other cell phone services. I’m always interested in how other companies market to young people, so I clicked on one of those annoying (yet effective) flashing banner ads the other day on a site that targeted youngsters. The ad was promising to tell me my future.

It worked like this:

– a screen appeared with a large image of a fortune teller and an input box asking me my name. There was nothing else on the page.

– the next screen asked me my star sign. Same image of the fortune teller, nothing else

– the following screen had the same image again and an input box asking me for my cell phone number.

… but, even thought the image was the same, a scroll bar on my browser window appeared indicating more content further down the page – it was a small paragraph with fine print telling me I would be subscribing to a service that would cost me $6 a week.

I was pretty disgusted, this campaign was designed into tricking people into subscribing – plain and simple. That’s not good marketing, it bordered on fraud in my opinion and at the very least was highly unethical.

Kids being impulsive (and newbie/naive adults too) would race through the process and likely not see that little gotcha. They probably wouldn’t be aware until they received their next phone bill; so that would be up to $24 the company would score before the person cottoned on and (most likely) cancelled. It’s that type of gutter marketing tactic which also makes it harder for honest merchants – consumers, once burned, become more suspicious.

If you allow your children to perform ecommerce transactions; please be sure to warn them of the traps that lie in wait for the unwary. This not only applies to purchases they make for themselves, but for you also – don’t let them zip through screens during a checkout or ordering process; ensure they read what’s being presented to them. It’s been my experience that parents regularly overestimate their children’s online skills and kids have a tendency to not look before they leap.



 

 
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