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As the younger generation of creative talent leads the way for emerging technology, marketers and tech vendors are noting a new industry paradigm. Whereas traditionally, the most coveted slice of the tech target market, in both the consumer and business arena, has been the 25-40 year-olds, that age is now being pushed back to an even younger segment of the market.
Industry analysts estimate that teens have become purchase influencers to the tune of more than $200 billion of consumer spending. According to an October 2013 survey conducted by Robin Leedy & Associates, that figure stands at more than $223 billion, and by the end of 2015, that figure is expected to grow significantly.
A June 2015 survey conducted by YouGov, a marketing research firm, teens wield significant influence over household spending, chiefly in the purchase of consumer electronics.
"According to the latest YouGov Omnibus Parents Survey (sent to parents of children ages 6-17), American youth are fast learners when it comes to influencing parental purchases. Most parents (57%) think of their children as successful persuaders, and young children can be just as persuasive as teens [...] Average cost of purchase (excluding the handful of requests for cars): $233 with video games and apps (17%), cell phones (13%) and toys (12%) dominating the list. Other items asked for include clothing and shoes (11%), gaming devices (10%) and pets (8%)," says YouGov on its Web site with regard to its findings.
According to the survey, the child alone is the purchase decision-maker for mobile electronic devices like handhelds and tablets in 13% of the families surveyed. Twenty percent of the respondents indicated that purchase decisions are made as a joint collaboration between parent and child, while 30% reported that the child shares opinions and influences purchases.
The growth in influence and spending power driven by teens is rapidly fueling new methods of reaching that new target market. By analyzing patterns of teen online content consumption, as well as creation of online content, the industry has noticed two important patterns. The first is the exploding use of mobile devices rather than desktops and laptops to consume content, and the second is the pervasive -- and still growing -- use of video.
Teen tech influencers are not only directly driving household purchases of consumer technology, but they are also reaching out to other teens, as well as to older consumers. They are making their likes and dislikes of technology known through tweets, Instagram, Snapchat, and even YouTube video.
He's In Love, And So Should The Vendor Be
The following is an example of a talented and influential teen, Benjamin Weiss, reviewing a consumer electronics product on video, which he uploaded to YouTube.
"I have fallen in love with these earphones!," states Weiss, and proceeds to provide a valuable link to the product's online shopping page, where his followers can order with just a click of a button.
The main strengths of the presentation are the projection of non-commercialized sincerity, enthusiasm, and product knowledge, which combine to create an interactive conversation between Weiss and his YouTube-based followers. The video is not only an expression of his insight and obvious love of technology, but it is also a powerful online content product that even the industry’s top marketing gurus cannot duplicate. And, that's certainly a lesson not lost on the global tech industry.