'Youth-fluentials' matter: study

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Eighty-eightápercent of "youth-fluentials," or children with the most influence over their peers, were more likely to pay attention to a company's brand or product if they received a coupon from that brand.

That was a key finding from a study conducted by WPP Group public relations firm Burson-Marsteller in partnership with sister research firm Penn, Schoen & Berland as part of its ongoing "e-fluential series." The survey examined the purchasing and media-consumption habits of youths age 10 to 18.

Youth-fluentials also have significant purchasing power, the study found. Seventy-five percent spend their own money on magazines, DVDs, clothes and shoes as well as pricier items such as cell phones, electronics and concert tickets.

Affordability is the most important factor for 100 percent of those shopping for clothing or electronics. A majority of youth-fluentials cite affordability as critical when shopping for lower cost items, too.

While much attention is paid to the amount of time young people spend online, the research shows the influencing is more likely to be done offline. For example, the study found that 73 percent of youth-fluentials spend time hanging out with their friends and 58 percent spend time interacting on sites such as MySpace and Facebook.

Magazines (76 percent), TV (71 percent) and radio (70 percent) remain the primary source for information and entertainment for this age group. This audience engages with all these media in a single day and often simultaneously.

The survey also found that more than 80 percent of the group affects their parents' decisions regarding key product areas.

"While youth-fluentials hold a vast amount of influence over the spending decisions that their peers and family make, the research shows that they are also an extremely impressionable group," said Ame Wadler, chief strategic officer of Burson-Marsteller. "They are striving for independence and impact over others but also are highly impacted by parents, educators and their own peers."

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