The teen collectors

Your Children’s Collectables feature (MW 17 February) showed that books are the item most collected by children aged 6 to 11. Beyond the age of 11, The Marketing Store’s Wendy Lanchin states that interest in collecting begins to drop off as the audience become teenagers and shift their interests online.

However, collecting is alive and well among teenagers – but today, it’s increasingly digital items that they swap.

Virtual goods have created an incredibly strong social currency online, something that can be witnessed firsthand in Habbo Hotel. The teenage community has created its own economy where they collect and trade everything from a virtual birdbath to jukeboxes. Last year, users traded around 1.4 billion items. The behavior of collecting items once displayed in the playground has grown up and moved online.

As Lanchin quite rightly points out, for brands to enjoy a strong level of acceptance and advocacy with collectable goods, they need to allow people to exert their individuality through their collections. This is exactly what brands are doing on online communities, creating in essence virtual content and giving it to teens for them to express their creativity in their own spaces, however they see fit.

For example, in a recent partnership with Capri Sun, the Habbo community was offered the chance to collect branded virtual goods by engaging with Capri Sun both online and offline. The limited availability of these items quickly made them highly collectable and much sought-after by teens, creating a new social currency that young people are only too happy to collect.

Phil Guest
Executive vice-president global ad sales

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