Digital Kids – Global Branding, Virtual Currencies, & Future of Retail

Edwin Digital Kids - Global Branding, Virtual Currencies, & the Future of Retail Another day of brilliant brains sharing their expertise in the educational digital space. This event put on by Tonda Sellers Bunge had the best networking opportunities ever and I seriously have my work cut out for me following up on all kinds of great contacts. Some of the topics discussed here at the Digital Kids Conference were global branding, virtual currencies, & the future of retail. It was refreshing to be reminded that kids learn best through fun! Warren Buickleitner moderated a panel of top app developers discussing global brands and how they got to where they are by incorporating branding and marketing strategies. The evolving venue of educational apps was examined and dissected. Tom Buyckx, the CCO of the extremely POPULAR Dr. Panda suite of apps discussed the challenges of marketing for a global audience, incorporating both Western and Asian markets concurrently. Kimi Navai, head of content at PlayKids (the current top grossing #1 app for kids) discussed her companies subscription services and the growing pains of working to keep content fresh and licensing efforts in a global market. Her goal to deepen user engagement with children and getting the right apps into the right culture. Verena Pausder, Founder, and CEO of Fox & Sheep mobile games had insight into Appstore optimization and the major role of ROI is playing in extensive data-driven decisions in their development of apps. Eldad Ben Tora, founder and Chief of Revenue at KIDOZ shared with us how top kids apps monetize their traffic in a kid-friendly (and also not-so-friendly) way, and how brands can reach and engage kids with their content. Robin Raskin, Founder, Living in Digital Times moderated  a panel discussing virtual currency, and where the concept of digital money is headed. With myself being of the mind of intrinsic motivation always being the best road traveled, it was impressive to hear how badges, rewards, and virtual currencies may be preparing our kids for a new economy. Developers should keep this in mind when developing games as it is an opportunity to teach important life-long skills through play. Grant Hosford, Co-Founder, and CEO, codeSpark discussed how ChoreMonster helped him with his own children and how his two daughters are very different with their own spending habits, whether virtual or real. He incorporates the use of rewards for work well done in his app the Foos but also makes kids responsible for saving in order to buy goods and services. Shuli Gilutz, Ph.D., specializing in user research, assessment, and design of interactive environments shared her comprehensive studies and wonderful video footage of children's perception of virtual versus real money. Vikas Gupta, Founder, and CEO, Wonder Workshop was on several panels from the Tesla of Toys to the Badges, Rewards, and Virtual Currency. He enlightened the crowd with his knowledge of programming and data tracking of player habits, frustration levels, and time constraints. Chris Bryne finished the conference by moderating an intriguing segment with a varied panel called: Redefining Retail – When you have a hit on your hands and no shelf to put it on. This session covered the challenges that abound in marketing digital products and discussed the future of retail, the differences from brick and mortar stores like Marbles and the e-commerce giants like Amazon. Beth Marcus, CEO, Playrific Inc shared her expertise and covered topics from curated online models, and asked are the"big box" chains worth it or not with the thin margins they impose? She also mentioned not to forget about the QVC channel that has a strong entertainment factor and how a relationship with the show host can be profitable. Scott Brown, Co-Founder and Chief Merchant of Marbles: The Brain Store emphasized the importance of a personal sales rep with the expertise to help customers have a grand hands-on experience without a thousand and one choices. He believes that a curated inventory without too many options is actually good for business. My main takeaway from this panel was the notion that packaging and telling the STORY on the outside of the box is a make or break factor for start-ups. Scott recommends that the packaging should not appear fake or preconceived in any way and warned against common lifestyle shots from generic studios. Phyl Georgiou from Tiggly agreed that "packaging needs to tell the whole story" and has several products on the shelf helps build the brand.  Don Inmon, from Pi Labs, explained how the endearing Edwin the Duck is an experiential or emotional type of product that needs some TLC to engage the customer. He also described a scenario of just how "ridiculous" a digital duck in a box is on a shelf in an Apple Store, it is enough to get a conversation going and increase product awareness. John Kennelly, b8ta has a whole different kind of marketing in mind and this former Nester with several buddies opened a demo store which lets companies apply to rent retail space, and they can then release a new product at the store within days of a release. The product developer benefits from instant feedback and real-time sales performance while the customer gets a hands-on experience and the opportunity to purchase cutting edge tech after they have had time with the product. WOW, what a fast paced world we are living in, exciting to know that everyday new edtech is released to help all children reach their potential both socially and emotionally as well as academically.  
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