Dirk Singer points us to a recent Pew report evaluating differences in internet use by age. Many of the findings are obvious — teens like games and blogging, seniors are increasing their time on the internet — but one leaped out. Only 38% of online teens said they shop online, compared with 71% of young adults 18-32 and 80% of Gen Xers age 33-44.
Some of this may be driven by finances; teens don’t make much money. But you would think teens — with their constant online connections and the marketers rabidly chasing them — would spend what money they have via online purchases. It could be that youth have a focused modality on creating and sharing content in social media, and so all those hours spent on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs reduce the time teens spend shopping. Or, alternatively, young people use online access to gather information but prefer to make actual purchases at the mall.
(Or it could simply be teens don’t have access to credit cards, usually required for online purchases. If so we smell a huge marketing opportunity here for a credit card firm that can provide some entry credit tool for young people with parental controls. No, wait. BAD idea.)
Since people take their media habits with them as they age, ecommerce players and online advertisers should watch this new modality. It also points out the need to match offline results with online impressions; the last click on a web site is not the only indication of a sale.