Nearly one-eighth of online users bought something - usually entertainment content or game tokens of some sort - from a virtual vendor, spending an average of $30 and auguring even greater sales as the universe of customers grows. Frank N. Magid Associates, the research firm, and PlaySpan, an online games monetization promoter, unveiled a new study last week that suggests a ravenous appetite not only for e-commerce, but for buying virtual products, including mobile "apps." Magid expects the majority of consumers will "spend $50 or more on virtual goods every year," soon creating "a multi-billion dollar market." Although the early adopter audience for such virtual goods is somewhat limited now, the implications for CE dealers is immense - both in its competitive impact on "real" sales and its endorsement of the devices and software through which customers enjoy the virtual environments.
The study found that 12% of the overall population surveyed acknowledged that it had bought virtual goods in the last 12 months. That ratio was 46% among people who regularly visit virtual worlds and social networks; nearly one third of iPhone owners bought virtual goods from the same platforms. Female usages generally equaled - and sometimes exceeded - male usage in the key teenage and 20s age brackets.
"The fact that lots of people are reaching into their pocket to buy virtual goods is impressive," explained Mike Vorhaus, president of Magid Advisors. "Even more impressive is that some of those consumers are spending considerable dollars." A separate report from Strategy Analytics suggests that microtransactions, such as these virtual goods purchases, will grow from slightly over $1 billion today worldwide to $17.3 billion in 2015.