Love them or hate them, kids are a prime target for internet retailers and marketers alike, and Sub-Club is approaching the ever-increasing young, online population with a new virtual reality portal.
Using 3D graphics put together by Parallel Graphics, an internet technology company, Sub-Club offers children the chance to shop and chat online in a safe and controlled virtual environment. The site has soft launched and is expected to hard launch within the next few months.
Children visiting the site can choose which character they wish to be as they register with Sub-Club, and parents can credit an online account for their children which enables them to shop independently online within Sub-Club's walled garden of retailers.
Characteristics - The site is divided into a number of different areas, including shopping, cash point and a 'joyzone' to 'my place' and 'chill 'n' chat'. Bright colours against a black background are presumably child-friendly, but in all fairness some of the editorial reeks of adults trying to be cool, young and hip. For example: 'Keep it Real' and 'Get out of the Suburbs and into Sub-Club'.
The 3D graphics, if compared with what the average 13-year-old child gamer might have access to via his/her games console, are not particularly sophisticated, but the fact that the site gives children the chance to look how they wish might compensate for this.
Having said that, the number of avatars that children can choose from is limited. Only just soft launched, the site had signed up a number of online retailers including Fonehouse, Schuh, Oxbow and Micro Skate Scooter (Microscooter). The teen icons Ant & Dec have also committed to having online chats with Sub-Club members at least once a week for the coming year.
Target audience - Sub-Club is hoping to attract children aged between seven and 15 years old.
Principals - The company was founded by the chief executive, Naomi Gibney, who was most recently at McCann-Erickson Junior, the advertising agency's consultancy and advertising division for children.
Funding - United News & Media has invested in the new portal, which is also part-owned by Gibney.
Marketing - The advertising agency Inferno is working on the launch of an integrated advertising campaign, covering television, press and radio. Inferno has also created an online banner advertising campaign for the children's brand. It is understood to be working with MindShare on the media planning and buying for the campaign.
Competitors - This is a crowded space which includes established players such as Cycosmos, VZones and Geocities.
THE YEAR AHEAD
Although its target audience distances its from competitors, Sub-Club is entering a saturated market at a very late date. The graphics will have to improve to appeal to a very web-savvy age range.