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Personalized treasure hunt service charts licensing course

Kids brand marketers looking for a new experiential option would do well to check out Giftventure, a personalized treasure hunt operator that's looking for a little licensing action to make a bigger impact with its pint-sized end user.
May 1, 2008

Kids brand marketers looking for a new experiential option would do well to check out Giftventure, a personalized treasure hunt operator that’s looking for a little licensing action to make a bigger impact with its pint-sized end user.

The Henderson, Nevada-based company opened for business last November, selling a clue-dispensing service designed to prolong the excitement of hunting for a hidden gift. Parents stash a pre-purchased birthday or holiday present somewhere in their home, and then sign up online for a Giftventure (US$19.99) tailored to the age of the kid recipient (four to eight or eight to 12). They provide some personal details such as the child’s nickname or favorite game to make the clues more relevant, and then select a character (dragon, fairy, pirate, etc.) to ‘send’ daily communiqués over the course of a week containing scramble puzzles that reveal clues as to the present’s whereabouts.

These letters arrive via snail mail, which may seem a tad antiquated for today’s tech-driven generation of kids. But Giftventure founder and CEO Steve Mock says they really enjoy the tangible nature of letters and the novelty of the delivery method. ‘They never get mail,’ he explains, with the exception of the occasional card from grandparents.

While Mock couldn’t divulge hard numbers, he did say there are customers in all 50 states and Canada. Customer satisfaction and pass-on intentions for Giftventure are quite high, with more than 90% of people who’ve used the service reporting that they would purchase it again and recommend it to family and friends. To drive business, the company is engaging in web-based marketing, and Mock says that several mom bloggers have done trials and are writing about the product.

When he witnessed first-hand the affinity that kids have for the original characters that drive the treasure hunts, Mock clued into his product’s licensing potential. Now, he’s on the hunt for properties of all kinds, from evergreens to smaller niche brands, hoping to lock down two licenses by the end of the year.

The Giftventure model offers a great opportunity for partners to develop a vertical strategy whereby Barbie, for example, might send clue-revealing letters that ultimately lead to a Barbie toy. This kind of partnership would instill deeper connection not only with the toy product, but also with its over-arching brand since kids would feel as if they were having a direct and personal interaction with its characters.

With the US and Canada covered, Mock is looking to break into the UK and Australia next, with Spanish and French formats on the to-do list, along with launching hunts for teens and adults. The company is also looking to partner with e-commerce sites that could offer (for an additional cost) a Giftventure option to online shoppers at the shopping cart stage of transactions, as well as creating a physical gift card that can be sold at bricks-and-mortar retail counters. Other plans in the works include adding an educational element to the puzzle stage of the hunt, so maybe kids would have to do an algebra equation if they’re having math trouble, and the gift is their incentive to solve the problem.

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