|incorporate online - Marketers who want to capitalize on the future of the Internet must take advantage of the more than 65 million youths between the ages of 5 and 17 with Internet access at home and their $60 billion in disposable income, according to Datamonitor.
A considerable proportion of today's youths already have access to the Internet, either at home or through school computers. In addition to the 65.3 million with Internet access at home, Datamonitor found 54.1 million youths with access to the Internet at school. The potential for marketing online to the 5 to 17-year-old set becomes even more apparent when it is considered that they currently spend 5 billion hours online annually.
While the rate of Internet penetration varies widely from country to country, Datamonitor found Spain has the lowest levels of Internet penetration among youths; Sweden, Britain and the United States all have a high proportion of online youths. By 2005, 74 percent of the youth population in western Europe and North America will have regular access to the Internet, and they will spend increasing amounts of time online as they become more familiar with the medium.
Although the youth population will remain stable, the number of online youths will increase as the number of households connected to the Internet grows. Datamonitor predicts that the increasing use of the Internet in schools will act as a driver for this, as children with school access will also seek access at home. The income of online youths will also continue to grow. Historically, pocket money has tended to increase faster than inflation. Between 1999 and 2001, pocket money in France increased by 21 percent over inflation and GDP, in Germany by 35 percent and in the United States by 10 percent. If this trend continues, expect to see a rise in the disposable income of online youths above the
||rate of mere population growth. Several challenges await marketers looking to reach the online youth market. To attract and retain this demanding audience, Web sites must be designed around the specific characteristics of their target audience: Boys seek novelty and entertainment, while girls enjoy fulfilling goals and prefer to feel part of a community. Teens are rarely impressed by generic teen-oriented Web sites, preferring to find sites that support their interests.
The sheer diversity of Web sites available mean that there is no shortage of competition for youths' attention online, and as youths become more proficient users of the Internet, Datamonitor expects competition between Web pages to be on their PC monitors will heighten.
Datamonitor analyzed several youth-oriented Web sites that demonstrated different yet successful approaches to online youth marketing. Despite the differences there were several common themes: Web site design must be clear and uncluttered making it easy to discover what is on offer; and the prime purpose is to provide a valuable service to the browser and only then to engage in some form of marketing. The key to success for these Web sites is providing the browser with a good reason to return.
"The Internet has now become a fully functional alternative marketing and selling medium," said Piers Berezai, Datamonitor consumer markets analyst. "The escalating number of online youths means that this medium will grow in importance. Youths' browsing exposes them to brands and marketing in a new and fundamentally different way. For the first time, youths can interact with and, to some extent, influence the marketing that they receive. If used responsibly, the Internet will act as powerful advertising medium, if not it can just as easily turn-off his Web-savvy set of consumers."