Customers Rock!

A blog about customers, their experiences, and how businesses can make sure their customer experiences rock!

How Teens Shop Online

Posted by Becky Carroll on December 12, 2007

ipod.jpg Customers Rock! focuses on companies with the attitude that their customers are important, no, critical to their business success.  A big part of this is communicating with customers, and potential customers, in the way they prefer.  If your company is reaching out to teens, their preference may well be YouTube over your company website.

According to a new survey by Online Testing eXchange, in conjunction with the eCrush social networking website, most teens do their actual purchasing in stores. However, 65 percent of teens say they learn about cool new products on the Internet, compared to 62 percent from friends, 54 percent from TV ads and 48 percent from magazines. (Thank you to bizreport for the survey info.)

About that online research.  I had an interesting conversation with my teen yesterday.  He is in the market for a new iPod (he already has an older-version Nano).  Interested in the iPod Touch (which he is buying with his own money, BTW), he is ready to move towards purchase but wanted to learn more about it. 

Here are the steps of his experience.

  • “I wanted to see what the iPod Touch was like, so I went to Apple‘s website.”  He went to the iPod section from the toolbar at the top.   From there, he saw what looked very promising: “iPod Touch – A Guided Tour”, so he clicked to watch the video.

This is where the Apple website fell down.  Instead of making the video easily viewable, my son was required to download Apple’s QuickTime in order to see it.  He tried this, but he couldn’t get it to work properly.  At that point, he gave up on the Apple site.

  • Next stop: YouTube.  Why?  “I knew that a lot of people make videos of the things they buy and how they work.”  My son quickly found a video tour of the iPod Touch (it looked like it could have been put out by Apple) and spent the next 14 minutes glued to the PC screen.  “Wow, this is so cool!  I really want one now, and I already know how to use it just by watching the video.”
  • His comment about how he intends to proceed next time: “From now on, I am just going to go to YouTube first!”

To recap: A potential teen buyer wanted to spend big bucks on new electronics, but he wasn’t sure yet.  He went to the company website but ran into problems trying to get the information he needed to make the decision.  He went to his trusted source for information, YouTube, and found exactly what he needed to make his decision.

Where are your customers doing their research?  Does your company’s website make the grade?  Should you put together a cool YouTube video about your product to reach out to your customers?  The answer lies in knowing your customers, their preferences, and their trusted sources.

One more thought.  As my son is already an Apple customer, Apple could have reached out to him, through his email or through iTunes, to let him know about their new products.  This would have made him feel special and “in the know”, and it could have moved him to purchase sooner – that is, if he had saved up enough money!

(Photo credit: ronen)


8 Responses to “How Teens Shop Online”

  1. It is clear that most brands don’t quite understand the importance of social currency. Or if they do, they understand it in outdated ways. Kids have shifted their expectations dramatically and brands are not just missing the point, they are leaving the door open to their competitors. This is going to have large scale ramifications as today’s school kids enter the workforce. I think it is going to be fascinating.

  2. Jon said

    1. Quicktime is part of iTunes.

    2. When you download iTunes you enter your email and are automatically subscribed to Apple’s newsletter.

    Your son’s problem seem to be with the browser not Apple’s website.

  3. Gavin, you are right that the expectations of young people are rapidly changing! Companies need to tune-up their web presence in order to reach their young audiences.

    Jon, thank you for the information. I wasn’t trying to imply that the Apple website was faulty or not working properly. The issue was not so much with the browser but with the overall experience. Teens need it to be fast and simple or they are gone. If Apple could make it as simple to view a video on their site as it is for a teen to view one on YouTube, they might stay and watch it there. On the newsletter, although we are on iTunes, we don’t get the newsletter. Better would be for Apple to email or text a teen with info they want – best is to ask the teen/customer how they want to receive the info! Thank you again, Jon.

  4. Janet said

    So what it would it take for you to buy clothes (cool, fun clothese that are reasonably priced) on line – without a name brand mall store behind them? What would cause you to do more than just look?

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