Teens Possess Purchasing Power

Apparently the breadwinners aren’t the ones making the buying decisions for electronics in American households. Research from InsightExpress finds that students, including teens and young adults, have the real power when it comes to which consumer electronics are purchased when heading back to school.

The survey, conducted online with 300 students in July 2002, revealed that while almost all (90 percent) of the students already own a computer, nearly 1 in 4 are looking for replacements. Furthermore, 35 percent of respondents would like to purchase cell phones; 18 percent prefer pagers; one-third are seeking digital cameras; and 30 percent desire MP3 players.

“More than ever before, the buying power for electronic devices belongs to students,” said Lee Smith, president of InsightExpress. “Our survey found that not only are teens and young adults calling the shots on brands, but nearly 40 percent of students said they were going to pay for products themselves. Marketers need to understand these facts as they try to capitalize on back to school shopping.”

Respondents indicated they learn about electronics from a wide variety of sources including: friends (66 percent), the Internet (65 percent), television (65 percent), magazines (50 percent), and schools (38 percent).

“It’s not too late for companies to understand and capture the minds and wallets of students. Understanding the motivations of students is critical to driving sales during this year’s back-to-school season,” summed up Smith.

Who are the Decision-Makers for Purchases?
Students Students and Parents Parents
Computer 52% 18% 30%
Internet Access 53% 30% 16%
Cell Phone 53% 21% 26%
Digital Camera 58% 17% 25%
PDA 71% 10% 19%
MP3 Player 74% 10% 16%
Software 76% 12% 12%
Source: InsightExpress

Even with all the various electronic options available, the computer is becoming the all-purpose entertainment center in homes,
MetaFacts has found. While there has been a significant increase in the number of households with kids 19 or younger using computers – just over 70 percent in 2002, compared to 55 percent in 2000 and 43 percent in 1995 – videogame system sales went flat in PC households with kids over the past year.

MetaFacts reports that 39.2 percent of households with PCs and kids owned a videogame system in 2002, down slightly from 2001’s figure of 39.7 percent. MetaFacts principal analyst Dan Ness attributes the decline to the proliferation of home computers: “Kids have discovered they can have fun on PCs, the Internet and handheld game systems, challenging the traditional videogame console.”

The presence of both kids and PCs in the household is related to the increased use of other technology products in the home sector. Digital cameras have increased in penetration of PC households with kids, rising to 31.3 percent from 22.5 percent last year. Additionally, cell phone use among households that have kids and PCs has also increased – 81.9 percent in 2002, compared to 73.3 percent in 2001.

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