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Forrester: Teens Dig CE

Cambridge, Mass. — A recent study from Forrester Research on the youth market affirmed some fairly solid conventional wisdom: Kids love gabbing on cellphones, chatting on instant-messaging programs and playing with their electronics toys, particularly game consoles and MP3 players.

The study, “Young Consumers and Technology,” canvassed 5,000 U.S. and Canadian online youths between the ages of 12 and 21. The study found that 87 percent of 15 year olds use instant messaging, vs. 32 percent of online adults. Nearly 50 percent of 12 to 14 year olds have a mobile phone and more than three out of four young consumers have a mobile phone.

According to Chris Charron, VP and research director at Forrester Research, “We are seeing a generation of young people for whom technology is not just a nice-to-have — it’s a critical part of their lives.”

In the hierarchy of CE products on their wish list, kids pine for MP3 players with 25 percent planning to purchase an MP3 player in the next 12 months according to Forrester.

With their copious free time, young consumers spend almost 11 hours per week online, while nearly one in five of the youngest of this group (ages 12 to 17) spend 20 hours or more per week online, Forrester noted.

They’re also avid gamers: 88 percent of boys ages 12 to 17 own a game console, compared with 63 percent of girls the same age. According to the study, 55 percent of boys would rather play games than watch TV.

Young consumers also represent the “social marketing vanguard” placing greater weight on recommendations from friends and family when making a purchase than adults. The research firm nonetheless contented that “young consumers are more open to advertising than their parents are, although both generations are skeptical of the ads that they encounter.”

“Young consumers have no preconceived notions of what advertising should be,” said Charron. “They have no problem with the lines between advertising and editorial being blurry. Because they have grown up to be more self-reliant in a digital environment, they have confidence in their ability to distinguish between the two. And there’s more good news for marketers: The viral nature of their communication with each other is a behavior that marketers can tap into.”