Sunday, August 10, 2008

This is a Joke, Right?

I was just checking my email and clicked on my daily Google Alert on "consumer packaged goods." Amongst the news stories was a report from Internet Retailer (Strategies for Multi-Channel Retailing).

Here is the headline and lead paragaphs:

“Tweens” use online search when researching products

Online search plays a major role for shoppers ages 10-to-14-year-olds, who frequently turn to the Internet to learn more about a product after seeing ads in other channels, according to a new study from DoubleClick Performics, an online ad network owned by Google Inc.

Of the so-called tweens surveyed, 57% said they rely on the Internet to research appliances and electronics after seeing ads in other channels, while 56% used search to learn more about telecom services. 47% used the Internet to research apparel and 46% to research home furnishings and consumer packaged goods.

The first thing that jumped out at me is this: Tween shoppers first learn about products from ads in other channels (no one in the Internet business ever wants to make that acknowledgement). For a moment I was truly impressed. "This is raw honesty" I thought. Good for Internet Retailer.

Then I read that more than half (57%) of Tweens rely on the Internet to research appliances, while 56% used search to learn more about telecom services and just under half (46%) used the Internet to research home furnishings.

In fairness, my three kids are now in their 20s, and a lot has changed in the past decade, but am I to believe that the 10-to-14-year-olds today are buying appliances, telecom services and home furnishings?

What am I missing here? I mean even if we are talking about George Foreman grills, cell phone service and bedroom lava lamps, I am still having a difficult time imagining Tweens making these purchases. I can see 10-to-14-year-olds picking out their own clothes, selecting their own shoes, telling mom and dad that they want a phone, begging both parents for a bedroom refrigerator and trying like mad to convince anyone who will listen that they want a sleep sofa instead of a bed.

So, maybe the study is only saying that Tweens are researching appliances, telecom services and home furnishings on the Internet - NOT with the intent of purchasing them, but simply because they are curious to know more? But then the article goes on to say that the Internet plays a "substantial role in the purchase process for Tweens."

The thing is, I have no doubt taht Tweens are heavy, heavy users of the Itnernet - by way of computers and mobile devices. I just don't get this research. In fact, I don't even understand what kind of study would ask a 10-year-old about purchasing appliances and home furnishings.

Long story short: I did a little looking around and found this story form 2007:

"Tween buying power is larger than with any prior generation," explains James Chung, president of Reach Advisors, a Belmont, MA, marketing, strategy and research firm that focuses on emerging trends. "Having said that, we are seeing a shift back. Five years ago tweens were in control. This new generation of parents (Gen-Xers) doesn't want to rush kids to grow up. Tweens have more information about their purchases, but they're not making the final decisions."

So the research is half right. Tweens are doing the research and likely influencing the purchase. But in the end, mom and dad have the final say in what they buy.

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