Teens may be interested in getting reloadable gift cards as holiday gifts, but parents have not been on board with the trend, a recent survey by Socialwise Inc.'s BillMyParents suggests.
The data from Socialwise, a provider of reloadable prepaid cards for teenagers, reflects the challenge that prepaid marketers have in trying to address the teen market, according to one analyst.
Asked whether they had ever given their teenagers a reloadable prepaid card, 17% of those surveyed said they had, and 63% said they had never done so. This contrasts with what teens say they want: Nearly half in the survey chose a $200, open-loop prepaid card over other gifts of equal value, according to the 2010 BillMyParents Holiday Survey.
In the survey, 52% of parents said they would not give their teens reloadable gift cards this year, but 48% said they were considering it or were very likely to do so.
Part of the reason relatively few parents have given their teens prepaid cards may be that many still consider reloadable cards products for unbanked or underbanked people, said Ben Jackson, a senior analyst at Mercator Advisory Group. "That 17% is representative of the education that needs to be done in the market for prepaid cards," he said. "The industry needs to help consumers, businesses and governments understand all the different uses for reloadable prepaid cards. You can apply them in a lot of different ways, including for monitoring teen spending."
The teen market is fickle and may be difficult to nail down, Jackson said. Some prepaid cards may be marketed as giving parents control, but children may not like that and prefer to get cash, he said.
"The teen market is an example of trying to get at a large market that is very vulcanized within, in that it seems like the same demographic, but it's really not," said Jackson. "Is the football player going to want the same card as the skater kid?"
Socialwise, for example, has tried to market its product with extreme-sports athletes. It started a marketing campaign for its BillMyParents online-payment system through social networking sites in early August that could reach 4.6 million followers of Twitter, Facebook and Myspace.
Socialwise surveyed 157 U.S.-based 13- to 18-year-olds. The other portion of the survey used a panel of 75 parents from 35 states with at least one child 13 to 21 years old. The company did the online survey Nov. 4 to 10.