Report: There’s Money in Teen Web Surfers

With brick-and-click retail becoming the dominant trend, Internet marketers cannot dismiss teenagers as a target audience when creating a Web presence even though most teens do their purchasing offline, according to a report released Wednesday by Jupiter Media Metrix.

The study found that while 11 percent of teens aged 13 to 17 have made online purchases, 29 percent of teens research products on the Internet before purchasing them at stores.

Despite not having credit cards for the most part, teens are also visiting the same e-commerce sites, including (Nasdaq: AMZN) and eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY), as their adult counterparts.

“Very few teens purchase online,” Jupiter Media Metrix analyst Jared Blank told the E-Commerce Times. “Mostly because of the credit card issue.”

Blank added that although adults window-shop as well, because they do have credit cards, they are more likely to purchase than teens.

Virtual Mall

“Many teens use the Internet as a shopping mall — a place to meet friends, play games, and shop — even without the intent to purchase,” Blank said.

“Teens spend almost as much time on as adults, even though few of those teens can make purchases on the site,” Blank said. “Marketers need to recognize the value the Web has on influencing purchases that may take place offline.”

Integrating online and offline channels is crucial for retailers trying to reach teens, according to Blank. He advised retailers to use the Web as an additional means of disseminating information and creating brand awareness.

“Players who do this well ensure that their customer communications, whether it’s informational or promotional, share the same messaging on the Web, in their catalogs, and in their stores,” he said.

What Teens Want

Teens particularly enjoy visiting sites that allow them to set up and personalize their Web experience as much as possible, according to Jupiter.

Jupiter found that 42 percent of teen surfers visit personal Web sites created by other Netizens. Additionally, home-page providers Angelfire, TriPod and Homestead are all among the top 20 sites visited by teens, but are not on the same list for adults.

Another teen hot spot is eBay. Jupiter found that wired teens spent an average of 52 minutes in April at the Internet auction site, even though most are not able to make purchases because they do not have a checkbook or credit card. By comparison, adults averaged 112 minutes at the online auction site in April.

Teens are also spending significant amounts of time logged on to Internet portals Yahoo! and MSN and checking their e-mail at Hotmail. Jupiter found that online teens spent 45 minutes in April at Yahoo!, 50 minutes at MSN, and 48 minutes at Hotmail.

Adult Growth

Although teens are making themselves at home in cyberspace, Jupiter found that between April 2000 and April 2001, the growth of the adult online population outpaced the wired teen population.

Jupiter found that the number of adults online increased 18 percent, reaching a total of over 71 million users. During the same period, the teen population increased 11 percent, reaching a total of almost 9 million.

Adults are also logging on more often than teens. During April, the average adult logged on 15 days and the average teen only nine.

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