Neopets fads, successful products don’t lose popularity
Neopets – Case Study As per the Neopets website, Neopets is an online youth-focused virtual world whose primary focus is to allow members to create and take care of virtual pets. In addition to virtual pets, it also offers games, auctions, trades and messaging.
Neopets have been created in 11 languages and generates more than 5 billion pageviews per month. With nearly 200 games, weekly contests, discussion boards, plots and thousands of virtual items to collect, Neopets members are as passionate about the site as they are about their virtual pets.Neopets has approximately 44 million members, and in the fourth quarter of 2007, Neopets averaged approximately 3. 5 million monthly unique visitors globally. How to avoid becoming a fad : A fad is a short-lived enthusiasm. What makes something a fad is its rapid loss of popularity.
For example the Hula Hoops were wildly popular in 1958 but the craze died in the same year. In contrast innovations rapidly increase in popularity like fads but then level off. So unlike fads, successful products don’t lose popularity but remain popular.Why do fads decline. As per Best, Joel (2006, p121) there are two key reasons for fads to decline: 1. Collapse trigger : which is defined as growing disenchantment with an already adopted product.
If this happens due to dissatisfaction with performance then the adopters are said to be debunking. 2. Elimination trigger : which is defined as growing interest in some alternative novelty that might replace the one losing favor. Adopters are said to be surfing when they slide smoothly from one product to anotherThus for Neopets to survive, it needs to avoid the collapse trigger and the elimination trigger. Neopets needs to continuously innovate and provide new virtual pet characters and related games. Neopets also needs to continuously scan the market to see new trends/products being offered and quickly adapt to introduce the new trends on its website.
Neopets took the 1990s Tamagotchi pets that taught kids how to care for virtual critters which inhabited in small, egg-shaped electronic gadgets to new paradigm with a vast online world that is one of the most sticky website among kids.However unlike games such as World of Warcraft and Second Life that are based on real time action rendered in 3D, Neopets is primarily based on navigating through static 2D web pages, and playing small self contained puzzle-type games. Though Second Life and World of Warcraft do not target Neopet’s primary audience of girls under the age of 18, it also needs to move up the technology chain. There might soon be a 3D virtual pet website which might take away market share from Neopets and Neopets might see its adopter surfing to a 3D virtual pet websites.Promotion strategy for Neopets : Neopets has traditionally depended on word of mouth and viral marketing which is a subset of word of mouth to increase its spread.
As per Hindle, Tim (2008, p205) viral marketing involves choosing a small group of well-connected individuals to launch a product or service via the internet or their mobile phones. The idea is that their approval will spread rapidly via their online network of connections, create a buzz around the product being marketed and result in millions of sales.This form of marketing has grown further with the popularity of social networks like Facebook. While Neopets is very popular with kids who use the internet extensively, Neopets needs to consider other mediums to attract kids who are not yet extensive users of the internet. To do that Neopets has tapped traditional media like cartoon channels Nickelodeon to spread its popularity. Neopets could also consider endorsement by popular youth stars like Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus) or Jonas Brothers.
In the US Neopets could collaborate with popular kids recreational places like Chucky Cheese.Neopets could also associate itself with social causes related to domestic animals like sponsoring the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In other words Neopets could augment its internet based presence and word of mouth promotion by traditional promotions used in the brick and mortar world. Country specific challenges for Neopets : Currently Neopets has many country specific websites which are in local languages and also provide options to advertisers to tailor their offering to be country specific.As it spreads across countries Neopets will need to be sensitive to country specific issues like the names of its pets, attitude in different countries towards pets, type of pets which are popular in different countries, games and puzzles specific to a country. Neopets could consider alliances with local content development firms to create country specific content. Neopets should also tie up with local kids channels like local cartoon channels to promote its website.
Neopets could also do a race/home country profiling of its audience in the US and that could give Neopets some leads on which type of pets, games, etc might be popular in different countries. Criticism of Neopet’s practices : Key criticism of Neopets has been in the area of immersive advertising. As per Ito et al. (2006, p6) in contrast to sites that rely on a membership fees to generate revenue, Neopets is a free site that has immersive advertising – product placement that integrates real world commercial products into the Neopets environment.Neopets also encourages kids to play these games with embedded product advertisements to earn points on its website.
Neopets also build characters related to products like ceral-related characters. This has been criticized as the website does not give any warning that there are advertisements embedded within its games unlike other sources of kids entertainment like television. Other criticisms has been in the implicit promotion of gambling by Neopets in some of its lucky chance games, prohibition of religious content, overabundance of junk food ads as a contributor to obesity and too much time spent on the website by kids.Neopets revenue model is essentially driven by immersive advertising and there is not much Neopets can do to move away from it. Neopets could introduce warning messages within its website about the presence of immersive advertising which might satisfy some of the criticism. Regulatory agencies need to ensure that Neopets does not encourage kids to play certain games where advertising content is present. If parents want kids to play games on the website which does not have immersive advertising, then regulatory agencies need to ensure that Neopets provides these optionsExtending Neopets to the adult market : Neopets area of core competency is the kids/youth market.
It can definitely try and extend the concept to the adults market by developing content specific to adults within the virtual pet domain. Maybe develop virtual pets which show emotions specific to adults. However in my opinion Neopets might be better place to stay focused on the youth market and expand into the offline market by launching products like plush toys, movies, Play station games, etc.Neopets could consider also leveraging its brand by endorsing pet products.
References Best, Joel. Flavor of the Month: Why Smart People Fall for Fads. Ewing, NJ, USA: University of California Press, 2006, p121 Hindle, Tim. Guide to Management Ideas & Gurus, 2008, p205-206 Jack Meyers Report, Neopets.
com Fulfills Promise of Immersive Advertising, 2004, p2 Ito, Mimi ; Horst Heather, Neopoints, and Neo Economies: Emergent Regimes of Value in Kids Peer-to-Peer Networks, American Anthropological Association Meetings, 2006, p6 Viacom website : www. viacom. com