Two-thirds of online users aged 13 to 17 are using the Internet to research products before making purchases offline, according to a study released this week by Jupiter Media Metrix. Eighty-nine percent of online teens have never made a purchase on the Internet, the study indicates.
"At first glance, teens are not a solid market to go after because they're not using credit cards," said Jared Blank, a digital commerce analyst at Jupiter Media Metrix. "In fact, companies should be using their Internet sites as another touchpoint for teenagers.
"Teens are very comfortable online. When they have a credit card, they will be very ready to purchase," he said.
Teenagers were among the early adopters of the Internet, but their ability to purchase online has been stunted because they often have no way to pay. Most e-commerce sites require customers to use credit cards, which most teenagers don't carry. In addition, alternative payment systems such as RocketCash, which are more accessible to teenagers, have been slow to catch on.
Despite those hindrances, online teens tend to spend a good deal of time at e-commerce sites such as Amazon.com and eBay. Teenage Internet users spend about half as much time at Amazon as their adult counterparts, according to the study.
The number of U.S.-based online teens grew 11 percent to nearly 9 million from April 2000 to April 2001, according to the study. In contrast, the number of adult Internet users in the United States grew 18 percent during the same time period to 71 million.
Jupiter surveyed 615 randomly selected teens via e-mail. The company did not say what the margin of error was in the study.