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Saturday, March 5 2011

Connecting With Teens

I remember our first TV - a monstrous Zenith black and white box with an essential horizontal hold button, rabbit ears antenna, and three channels.  No HDML ports, no USB or ScanDisk inputs, no remote control, and I don't even think the word 'computer' had been invented yet.  If you're a teen today, that mini-techno-biography must send shivers up your spine.  Because you've grown up with laptops, the Internet, smart phones, and remotes up the wazoo.  You are the avant-garde of new technology.

A recent eMarketer report estimates that by the end of this year, 96% of US teens between the ages of 12 and 17 will go online monthly, compared with 74% of the total US population.

Regarding social networks: more than 4 in 5 teens are expected to use social media this year (vs. 64% of all Internet users) and 75% will use Facebook monthly. 

And texting is so second nature to a teen that it has just about relegated most email accounts to the trash bin.

The online social connectedness of teens for retailers is pretty phenomenal according to a new report, 'Teen Girls: Always on a Social Shopping Mission.'  According to eMarketer analyst Tobi Elkin, who authored the report, "Peer influence is the key driver in teen girl shopping behavior."  Although more than 4 million US teen girls purchased items online last year, shopping in the bricks & mortar context is still a major element of teen consumer behavior, as Elkin writes in her report:

"Teen girls are intrepid social shoppers who eagerly embrace digital and mobile tools. They enjoy hunting for clothes and accessories online and offline. Most thrilling, however, is the experience of shopping and buying in physical stores with close friends by their side."

"While they are price-conscious and driven by a great deal, teen girls weigh these factors against the all-important consideration of whether peers will approve of their purchases."

Still waiting to see how all this compares to teens outside the US.  And whither the teen boys?
Just have a look:

Friday, June 11 2010

Teen Influencers

An interesting report by eMarketer today summarizing a May 2010 survey by myYearbook and Ketchum, which takes a look inside the heads of American teen influencers. The survey focused on approximately 10,000 myYearbook users, with influencers defined as the top 15% most active users. I had never heard of myYearbook before, probably because I am not a teenager, nor do I have any running around the house, but apparently if you happen to be a teenager who is active online, you know myYearbook, the most visited website for teens.

The survey's key findings, while interesting, are hardly surprising.  Teen influencers (remember, the survey only studied Americans) are estimated to be 70% more likely to share purchase decision information with their friends, and they invest a great degree of trust in what their friends have to say (52%) vs. the information they receive directly from companies (only 5% trust this source) or advertising (5%). 

Presuming that the majority of friends of influencers are not influencers themselves is informative, and it highlights how the WOM process is a two-way exchange.  We shouldn't forget that influentials are also influenced by non-influentials, and as Duncan Watts has suggested, we are all probably influential these days, what with expanding consumer connectedness.  That high school geek who everyone ignores in the cafeteria may well be chatting away online every night under the auspices of a trendy and hip persona, shaping attitudes and influencing brand preferences. 

I found it interesting that so few influential teens trust blogs, as it seems likely that many teen influentials are bloggers themselves. Highly unlikely that I am pulling in many teen visitors to my Paris Restaurants and Beyond blog - at least until I start reviewing fast food joints.  But it's an interesting question as to the relationships between influentials.  To what extent do influencers talk to other influencers?

The myYearbook study also found that a majority of teens prefer straightforward messages from brands, although they are also receptive to well-executed edgy, funny or shocking messages.

Finally, a look at the product categories that influencers are most likely to recommend, the usual suspects emerge:

eMarketer points out that although about 80% of US teen Internet users visit social networking sites at least once per month, many sign on mainly to chat with their friends and post personal updates, thus making them particularly difficult targets for marketers to reach.  So, how to reach teen influencers, especially when you don't have any running around your house?