Teens Don't Buy Online, Study Shows

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Teens may be a major buying group and heavy users of the Web, but that doesn't mean they're a major source of e-commerce. The Internet is primarily a social space for teen-agers and is not seen as a major

e-commerce attraction, a new study revealed.

Young people between the ages of 13 and 19 aren't fazed by technology and are aware of marketing hype, according to the joint study by Cheskin Research, Redwood Shores, CA, and Able Minds Inc., San Francisco, which surveyed 2,759 online teens in June.

"I think online marketers have less control," said Davis Masten, principal at Cheskin. "Teens are more aware of marketing hype than people older, and there's really a great need for authentic communication. Marketers need to deliver what teens want: fun, social interaction and personalization."

The study - the result of a poll at Able Minds sites Cyberteens.com and youngcomposers.com - showed that Internet telephony, including sound and video, is one area that ranked highest among teen preferences.

"[Teens] like to shop together on sites and talk together on telephone, and it doesn't cost them extra," Masten said.

In addition, trend-setting, visible teens - who are role models through their looks, athletic abilities, personality and "cool-kid" quotient - are going online more slowly than the rest of the teen population.

"Visible teens are underrepresented as a segment compared to the populous as a whole," Masten said.

Marketers targeting teens should pay special attention to privacy issues, the study determined. While adults link loss of privacy with e-commerce security issues and misuse of personal information, for teens, loss of privacy is construed as a loss of personal freedom.

The encouraging news is that the Internet's interactive nature makes it far more popular to a significant number of teens than TV, the study showed. Many teens boast their own Web sites, and quite a few of them said they intend to start an online business in the future.
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