June 10, 2013

Shop online? Many teens do it, but more prefer the store

American teens have long been the country’s most-wired (and increasingly wireless) age group, with 95% saying they go online. But contrary to the stereotype of hyper-connected teens, they say some things are better done in person.

FT_Teens3The latest evidence for that comes from Minneapolis-based investment bank Piper Jaffray. Earlier this spring, the firm, which regularly surveys teens’ spending patterns, brand preferences, media and entertainment habits and other information of interest to investors, asked 4,800 teens nationwide whether they shopped online; not surprisingly, more than three-quarters said they did. But when Piper asked teens whether they preferred shopping online or in stores, 78% of girls and 75% of boys said they’d rather go to actual stores.

And despite growing interest in video-on-demand, digital streaming and other ways to watch movies at home, 61% of teens told Piper they still preferred watching movies in actual theaters (though they were divided on whether 2-D, 3-D or Imax was the best format).

Those findings align with previous research from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. For instance, a 2011 survey found that 67% of teens spend time in person with others outside of school daily or several times a week, while about as many teens (69%) texted people they know daily or several times a week.

Amanda Lenhart (@Amanda_Lenhart), a senior researcher at Pew Internet who studies teen online behavior, said shopping and watching movies often are very social activities for teens.

Social scientists, stock analysts and other researchers are keenly interested in how teens behave online, not just because of their raw purchasing power but because as Mary Madden, another senior researcher at Pew Internet, said in a recent report, “the patterns of their technology use often signal future changes in the adult population.”

Topics: Internet Activities, Online Transactions, Social Media, Social Networking, Teens and Technology

  1. Photo of Drew DeSilver

    is a Senior Writer at the Pew Research Center.

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1 Comment

  1. Sharon1 year ago

    Interesting article, however, in this case I don’t think teens would be a good indicator for behaviors in future adults. This is due to the limited options that teens have.

    Most teens will have cash rather than credit/debit cards, which is not currently a payment option for online purchases. Thus, they will continue to prefer shopping in stores rather than online until payment options change.

    Teens also have fewer options than adults for going-out. Their options tend to be going to the movies or to the mall. Depending on their location, the beach or lake might be an option. Hence, going to a movie theater with their friends will always be selected over staying at home and watching a movie.

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