Remember VSCO Girls? If you don’t know any kids under 16, you might have missed the viral trend that started in 2019 and carried through to the end of last summer.
The VSCO Girl subculture was one of the most dominant youth trends that emerged from the uptick of TikTok usage among Gen Z and Gen Alpha. While you may not have known them by name, you likely noticed the sudden increase in kids carrying Hydro Flasks, bringing back scrunchies, and wearing Vans.
This summer will feature the Coconut Girl takeover, an aesthetic leaning into the glowing beach vibes of the Y2K fashion resurgence. Viral trends like this one are as much about their participants looking and feeling like part of the pack as they are about the actual items, values, or characteristics of the product.
During this year’s “Fun Kid Summer” (read more about this trend in my article from the Toy Book’s June issue), we predict that kids’ perceived need to assimilate and be like their friends will be stronger than ever. Conversely, kids will also feel a strong desire for uniqueness and self-expression in digital environments. These contrasting attitudes provide a fascinating space in which brands and marketers can play.
SuperAwesome partners with brands to create immersive online environments that feature collectible versions of toys, brand-led quests and experiences, and enhanced digital play. We can create rare, digital versions of toys that enhance virtual play patterns and experiences by offering the same rush and excitement of collecting and unboxing in person. Online, non-NFTs hold real value, especially if they augment kids’ online avatars or play experiences. [Editor’s note: WTF is an NFT? Check out our breakdown!]
Luxury fashion brand Gucci serves as the best example of this practice to-date. A digital Roblox version of the Gucci Dionysus bag spent two days in the digital marketplace of the Roblox Gucci world. Originally priced at 475 Robux (about $5.50), the limited-edition handbag later resold for 350,000 Robux (around $4,115) — more than the retail price of the physical version. A few factors influenced this hefty price tag: rarity, hype, novelty, and kids’ desire to carefully curate the way they represent themselves online.
The Gucci example is a lesson in what’s possible with the convergence of online and real-life, a combination that always relates back to digital self-expression. But this need for online individuality extends beyond luxury fashion.
In our branded Spirit Untamed integration of the popular Horse Valley game in Roblox, once players complete the in-game challenges, they win Spirit as a permanent addition to their stables. Spirit becomes a collectible that players can both interact with and show to friends because they’ll be able to keep him even after the branded campaign concludes.
Finding and facilitating integration into the most-aligned games on Roblox is a low-barrier, effective entry into the metaverse for your brand. Beyond the metaverse, there are other ways to tap into viral trends with brand marketing.
For example, you can replicate viral play patterns within custom, built-for-you formats that enhance and emulate the trends surrounding your brand. Consider the movement to “collect squads,” a huge trend spearheaded by plush toy brands like Squishmallows. For collectors, positioning the items in their home is as crucial an aspect of the experience as the specific pieces of the collection itself. And, they have to collect them all to complete the “squad.”
In digital campaigns, you can create personalized, rich-media experiences in which kids can design their dream room and then add in their squads of toys (featuring your brand, of course). Their creations can be downloaded or sent to friends and parents, who can then create their own dream squads to be continuously reshared. This inviting, try-before-you-buy technique in digital formats generates additional insights into your target audience, and it increases dwell time and next-level engagement with which traditional advertising formats can’t compete.
For the latest on kids trends and insights into the kids digital space, check out the SuperAwesome blog at superawesome.com/blog.
This article was originally published in the August 2021 edition of the Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue!