5 things you need to know about Generation Swipe and VR

SuperAwesome recently collaborated with US virtual reality research firm Greenlight VR to produce a 60-page report exploring attitudes towards the technology in the UK.

1,018 participants were interviewed, ranging in age from 10 – 60+. However, as kids experts, there was always going to be one group we were most interested in: ‘Generation Swipe’, the under-17s whose attitude to this technology could determine whether it breaks into the mainstream in the future.

Here are our Top 5 discoveries about Generation Swipe and Virtual Reality…

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  1. Young people are the most aware of Virtual Reality

For Generation X (age 34-50) and younger, general awareness of Virtual Reality in the UK is already high. 83-5% of those aged 10-50 told us that they were at least somewhat aware of recent developments in VR. This dropped dramatically to 63% of 51-60 year olds and only 52% of those aged 60+, with 46% claiming to have “never heard of” the technology.

On top of this, Generation Swipe showed some of the highest levels of engagement with news around VR.

16% of 10-14 year olds said they “know a lot” about VR (compared to 8% overall), and 50% claimed to have heard of or used Sony VR products (compared to 41% overall).

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If, as reported in Singularity Hub, lack of awareness could prove one of VR’s biggest obstacles, this doesn’t seem to be an issue with kids.

Why?

  1. People still think VR is just for gamers

… and kids love gaming. According to our monthly research, 4-12 year olds talk about gaming with their friends more than any other topic. Gaming no longer revolves solely around the static or handheld console, to which access can be monitored and restricted by parents.

Statista research from last year confirms that tablets are now one of the most used gaming devices for kids in the UK. Everyone’s gone mobile and, for kids, mobile equals gaming.

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56% of 10-17 year olds like to play video games in their spare time (compared to 37% overall) and 71% claimed that VR Gaming was of interest to them (compared to 43% overall). For most, VR is still very much bound up with gaming.

We suspect Minecraft is partly responsible. When we spoke to our panel back in 2014 48% of 7-12 year olds chose a Minecraft-themed VR screenshot as their favourite from a set of 6 VR images. Since then, kids we’ve spoken to own everything from Minecraft LEGO, books and t-shirts to foam pickaxes and slip on shoes. When Microsoft revealed the ‘mixed reality’ headset generation of Minecraft Hololens last year, a truly spectacular generated gaming experience, kids were ready and waiting.

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  1. Kids are the most willing to buy VR technology

71% of 10-17s said they would buy or ask their parents to buy a VR Headset. Out of that number, 25% claimed they’d buy one themselves.  

That compares to 56% of 18-34 year olds and just 47% of all participants. Johnny (17), part of our young expert FutureMakers panel, reminds us that his generation are desperate to get their hands on this new immersive technology.

“…[last year] we saw a lot of new consoles and a lot of new VR games just being thrown out into the market. Personally I’m a huge fan of VR and I’ve really been enjoying some of the technology that’s out there…”

  1. But they didn’t know how expensive it was going to be

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Johnny goes on to talk about Oculus Rift’s new headset, which will start shipping in March at $599 (£414). “Obviously it’s out of my price range, but it would be really cool to get a copy of it and just give it a try.”

Our research with Greenlight VR was conducted in November, before Oculus dropped its price-point bombshell. At that point, most of Johnny’s peers were expecting the technology to be far more affordable. The average price guessed by 10-17 year olds was £258. While it’s entirely possible for other manufacturers’ prices to measure closer to their price range, it is unlikely that, despite their enthusiasm, virtual reality is going to be a must-have-item for kids and teens in the near future.    

  1. In the end, it’s all about the influencers

Full disclosure: Johnny is an animator, games developer and self-professed STEM enthusiast. In November, he visited the global technology conference Web Summit in Dublin. Within his age group, he’d be categorised as an early adopter and, with his tech-expertise, a peer influencer.

However, Johnny still isn’t willing to spend upwards of $600 on an Oculus headset and admits that the technology is not yet at the level he’d expect: “to be completely honest I think it still has a long way to go and in 2016 it’s definitely going to be improved upon.”

For kids, Virtual Reality currently remains more at place in the imagination than the shop window. Awareness is high, especially compared to that of other generations. Yet manufacturers have yet to put a mass-market product on the shelves within their or their parents’ price range.

The 2016 United Kingdom VR Consumer Report by Greenlight VR and SuperAwesome, can be purchased here.

The 60-page report analyses consumer trends for virtual reality products and content in the United Kingdom  and is aimed towards marketers and investors looking for more in-depth research and insights around the virtual reality industry.

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