For marketers, the Internet represents an opportunity to capitalize on the US $60 billion spending power of the 65 million youth double-click generation, according to a recently released study by Datamonitor.
In seven European countries and the US, 65.3 million individuals in the 5 to 17 year age group have access to the Internet at home while 54.1 million youths have access to the Internet at school. The report concludes that growing up in the 'double-click generation' as a net-savvy consumer will become the norm. They currently spend 5 billion hours online annually.
Spain has the lowest levels of Internet penetration among youths; Sweden, the UK and the US all have a high proportion of online youths. By 2005, 74% of the youth population in western Europe and North America will have regular access to the Internet.
Despite the parental concerns that may be raised by the amount of time that their children spend online, recent studies found that teenagers place greater emphasis on being online for academic research than for games. This pattern reflects the importance of the Internet as an educational tool. However, teenagers will also use the Internet to research extra-curricular interests and young children use the Internet primarily as a gaming resource.
The income of online youths will continue to grow. Historically, pocket money has tended to increase faster than inflation. Between 1999 and 2001, pocket money in France increased by 21% over inflation and GDP, in Germany by 35% and in the US by 10%. If this trend continues we can expect a rise in the disposable income of online youths above the rate of population growth.
To attract this audience, boys seek novelty and entertainment, while girls enjoy fulfilling goals and prefer to feel part of a community. As a general rule, teens are rarely impressed by generic teen-oriented websites, preferring to find websites that support their interests.
Piers Berezai, Datamonitor consumer markets analyst, says "The Internet has now become a fully functional alternative marketing and selling medium. If used responsibly, the Internet will act as powerful advertising medium, if not it can just as easily turn-off this web-savvy set of consumers."
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