Young Consumers Ignore Online Brands

Although young consumers are familiar with the leading brands in the offline world, a survey by Forrester Research has found that brands have little consequence to their online behavior.

Forrester’s Technographics® study of 8,600 online consumers age 16-22 asked their opinions of 50 leading brands, whether they visit these brands’ Web sites, and how likely they would be to consider purchasing these brands. While the offline brands received mixed reviews, the respondents showed no interest in the online brands.

“We were very surprised to find that some of the hottest brands in the offline world have no online value among young consumers,” said Forrester’s Shelley Morrisette. “Equally surprising was the fact that, with the exception of Intel and Yahoo, even the high-tech brands on the list failed to capture the interest of these online consumers. This suggests that brand online is not terribly important. What matters online is utility and activity.”

According to Forrester, there are currently 12.4 million consumers age 16-22 online in the US today, that represents 47 percent of the age group. With a mean annual income of $3,000, young consumers represent a $37 billion market, Forrester found. Young consumers are equally divided between “Netizens” who spend 10 or more hours per week online, and “Cliquers” who spend less time online. When comparing the two groups, Forrester found that Netizens behavior was profoundly influenced by the Web, while Cliquers have effectively integrated the Web into their daily activities.

Forrester also found that both groups exhibit a strong tendency to multitask, eat, listen to music, and watch television, while online.

“What the study survey tells us is that the Internet is being rapidly integrated into the everyday lives of today’s teens,” Morrisette said. “For some, the Web is having a dramatic impact on day-to-day activities like reading and socializing. But for most teens, the Web has become just another part of a complex whole.”

Forrester’s findings are in line with earlier findings by Harris Interactive. In its ecommercePulse poll of 103,127 e-consumers, Harris found that 40 percent of shoppers could not name an online retailer in 12 out of 13 e-tail categories.

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