What Marketers Need to Know About Teenagers Browsing Habits

Understanding the Digital Behavior and How to Market to Millenials

Millenials (a.k.a. Gen Y, Millennials, Echo Boomers, Why Generation, Net Generation, Gen Wired, We Generation, DotNet, Ne(x)t Generation, Nexters, First Globals, iPod Generation, and iYGeneration), those who were born during 1977-1994 and are in the 16-33 age range as of 2010 have unique media consumption as they grew up in a time of immense and fast-paced environment and technology where various types of media are available.

What Gen Y Are Browsing Online

Having an idea of their media consumption and browsing habits allow marketers to better understand their behavior, priorities and be able to provide content that will be most relevant and of importance to them making marketing more effective. The teenagers of today’s generation are well grounded and wise for their age. They were born into a technological, electronic, and wireless society with global boundaries becoming more transparent.

A Glimpse at an Average Teenager’s Media Consumption

In a 2009 Nielsen report on “How Teens Use Media”, it provides an overview of how teens consume media and how teens are rapidly turning to their mobile phones for browsing. The report also shows how Gen Y are more focused when compared to adults as they limit the screens to which they consume media as opposed to the myth that teens consume media with multiple screens or 10 at a time.

Media Consumption of Teenagers

Below are some of the most interesting trends in the media consumption and digital browsing habits by teenagers to which marketers might find interesting.

Millenials Media Consumption and Advertising (Source: Nielsen, 2009)

- Heaviest video viewers on mobile, watching almost twice as much as average age group.
- More receptive to mobile ads with more than 58% (in September 2010 survey) saying they “always” or “sometimes” look at mobile ads
- Biggest out-text of all the age groups with 13-17 sent an average of 3,364 mobile texts per month (2011)
- While being heavy mobile phone users, teenagers actually talk less on the phone than other segments of the population
- Spend lesser time online with most time spent on video streaming
- Make up 7.4 percent of the social networks
- Products in the hair products & accessories, games & toys, cosmetics, snack foods and skin care have the highest brand recall or which the teenagers are most receptive to ads

 Teenagers and Technology (Source: Pew Internet, 2013)

- 78% of teens now have a cell phone, and almost half (47%) of them own smartphones. That translates into 37% of all teens who have smartphones, up from just 23% in 2011.
- 23% of teens have a tablet computer, a level comparable to the general adult population.
- 95% of teens use the internet.
- 93% of teens have a computer or have access to one at home. Seven in ten (71%) teens with home computer access say the laptop or desktop they use most often is one they share with other family members.

Where Do Teenagers Spend Most of Their Time Online and How to Market to Them (Source: eMarketer, 2013)

- Millennials have the highest social networking penetration of any generation, and the highest Facebook and Twitter use rates to match
- Of the 86.2M population, 79.6M are mobile users, 49M of which are smartphone users
- Teenagers make up of half the Twitter population with 16.6M users

Gen Y Smartphone Usage Stats

Twitter Usage by Teenagers

How to Capture the Interest of Gen Y or Milennials

In a Retail Studies entitled “Gen Y Considerations for the Retail Industry”, it’s suggested that marketing, advertising and related communication to Gen Y should not be solely product based, rather communication should strive to give more. Creative executions should reflect the perceptions and desires of the cultural segment, as well as being funny, witty, relevant and ironic.

Since there’s an increasing trend in teenagers turning to their mobile phones for browsing and care more about experience more than branded content, Kaylene C. Williams and Robert A. Page suggested on their Marketing to Generations paper that:

“Marketing to the Generation Y segment can be improved by the following possibilities. The teen segment of this generation receives considerable marketing attention and is notoriously selfish, lives for today, and spends big. Gen Y individuals assist in household management and shopping with important preferences and tastes being developed during these teen years.

Marketers want to attract this group early and earn its loyalty. Appeal to their belief that they can make the future better. Be sure that they know that your organization’s mission speaks to a  purpose greater than the bottom line, e.g., globalization, global warming, and the advent of the
“global citizen.”

Feature your organization as an instrument of change. Give them systematic feedback because they value positive reinforcement at accelerated rates compared to previous generations and want more input into all things in which they participate. They are able to easily grasp new concepts and are very learning oriented. Many are in college or have entered the work force, and most are planning for lifelong learning experiences. However, traditional mass marketing approaches do not work well with younger consumers. Gen Y reacts strongly to real-life examples, they favor the truth and what is real.

In essence, Gen Y cares all about the experience.”

Teenagers: What Do They Share Online and How They Communicate

There’s a big difference on how teens use the social media when compared to adults and how they communicate.

Difference in Adult and Teenagers Social Media Behavior

Teenagers share more often on their social networks, with Facebook being the favorite platform (Source: EntrepreneurNext Advisor

Common uses of social media sites and the internet include seeking advice from parents, gathering information on drug use and sexual health topics online. While mobile and social networks play a huge role on how millenials communicate, traditional forms of communication such as face-to-face conversation still tops the favorite way to communicate among teens. SMS or sending text messages and talking over the phone only came second and third, respectively.

The Digital Life and Behavior of Teenagers

Despite the various media made available by technology, face-to-face conversation still remains the top favorite way to communicate among teens (Source: Visual.ly, Digital World of Teens)

How do Teens Communicate: Email and Social Media

Teenagers in the US use email, phone, Facebook, YouTube and instant-messaging platform such as Skype to communicate.

Channels Used by Gen Y Teenagers

Email still remains the top digital communication channel used by teens when communicating online (Source: Aweber, How Teens Communicate)

What do Teens Share On Social Media? Privacy and Online Identity

Teenagers use social media for different purposes and it’s interesting to note that only 14% set their Facebook profiles to “Public” while others prefer to set them to “Just Friends” or “Custom”.

- 26% of teen social media users say they post fake information on their profile to protect their privacy
- Snapchat is catching on with teens because it’s speedy and not yet blocked

Sharing and Privacy for Teenagers

The average network of a teenager on Facebook is 300 friends. Boys have 300, Girls have 350 (Source: SocialStrandPew Research)

Knowing and understanding the priorities, browsing and sharing behavior of millenials allow marketers to create better strategies and actually craft marketing campaigns that will prove relevant and valuable to the rather interesting segment group of the population – the teenagers.

Image: Mobi AD News

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