Humbug To The Internet: Teens Prefer To Shop The Mall

When it comes to holiday shopping, it turns out teens aren't as tethered to their computers as marketers have been led to believe. A new study finds that 95% of teens, 13 to 17, say they will choose shopping at stores and malls over catalog and online purchases this holiday season.

"People think about teens and the Internet, and get this idea that's where they spend all their waking hours, and it's just not true," says Bruce Friend, president for media and entertainment insights for OTX (Online Testing eXchange), which conducted the poll in conjunction with eCrush, a PG-13 social networking site.

What is true, he says, is that teens rely on the Internet more than any other source for figuring out what to do with all that allowance: 65% say they learn about "cool new products" on the Internet, compared to 62% from friends, 54% from TV ads and 48% from magazines.

Electronics stores are their first choice, with 46%, followed by bath/body (45%), and music stores (41%).



What's important for marketers to understand, Friend says, is that for most teens, shopping is a purely social experience, with 84% of teens saying they will shop with others. (Of those, 74% say they prefer to shop with their friends, versus 26% who say they would rather shop with their parents.) And a stoic 16% shop alone. "Shopping online just isn't as much fun for them as going to Hollister with their boyfriend or girlfriend, or checking out new music in stores," Friend says.

While teens say they plan to spend their own money, as well as someone else's, on holiday gifts, sweeties outrank Mom and Dad. About 28% say they intend to shell out more than $100 on a boyfriend or girlfriend, and just 20% intend to spend that much on either Mom or Dad. Grandparents come in third, at 18%.

For themselves, teens are in a decidedly tech-coveting mode these days. Predictably, money came in first place with 39%. But about 30% say they want a computer. Clothes came in next at 25%, followed by cars, 24%. But when asked what "one" gift they wanted, a computer came in first, with 15%, followed by money (12%) and a car (11%.) Just 9% say they'd like a gift card from their favorite store, and 17% say there isn't anything they want this holiday season.

Most-mentioned brands include Apple for music technology, Dell for computers/laptops, the Motorola RAZR for cell phones, Microsoft's X-Box 360 for game systems, and Abercrombie & Fitch for clothing. Ford and Chevrolet are the car brands mentioned most often.

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