Corporate Eye

UK Teens Go Online to Look up Products and Compare Brand Prices

teen iphoneBrands that want to connect with U.K. teens online need to understand that teens use the internet differently from other age groups. While 9 out of 10 teens go online to use search engines like Google, just like older adult internet users, teens’ preferred online activities diverge from adults’ preferences after that. This is according to a survey of 12- to 17-year old internet users in the U.K. by ResearchNow and K&A BrandResearch (as reported by eMarketer)

The second most common online activity for U.K. teens is using online communities like Facebook (79.5%) followed by listening to music (71.4%) and playing games (69.0%). Popular activities for older adults like browsing and looking things up and writing and reading emails are only mentioned by 66.1% and 65.5% of U.K. teens, respectively. For brands, the news isn’t great, but it’s not terrible either. Just 44.7% of U.K. teens visit websites of specific brands based on these survey results.

A few statistics from this survey might surprise you. For example, 91.3% of respondents access the internet using a computer or laptop. Just 44.5% access the internet using a smartphone and 17.9% use a tablet device. Furthermore, when asked whether they prefer to do certain activities online or offline, U.K. teens have some surprises in store again.

Following are the activities that U.K. teens who responded to this survey prefer to do online:

  • Looking up new things they’d like to have: 89% prefer online
  • Comparing brand prices: 74% prefer online
  • Playing games: 73% prefer online
  • Listening to music: 61% prefer online

Now, take a look at the activities that U.K. teens who responded to this survey prefer to do offline:

  • Talking with friends: 56% prefer offline
  • Watching videos: 57% prefer offline
  • Looking at or reading information and news from newspapers or magazines: 60% prefer offline
  • Shopping: 65% prefer offline
  • Watching or reading news from TV stations: 66% prefer online
  • Listening to the radio: 72% prefer offline
  • Meeting or playing with friends: 75% prefer offline
  • Watching TV series: 79% prefer offline
  • Making telephone calls: 84% prefer offline
  • Watching sports: 88% prefer offline

Based on these research results, the U.K. teen audience likes to listen to music online but prefers to watch videos, sports, and television offline. U.K. teens also prefer to play games online, but they’d rather talk with friends offline.

For brands, the key statistics are how U.K. teens use the internet for shopping and product research. Nearly 9 out of 10 prefer to look for products they want online and nearly 3 out of 4 prefer to compare prices online. However, when it comes time to shop, nearly 2 out of 3 prefer to shop offline. Of course, most U.K. teens probably don’t have credit cards, so shopping online is more challenging. However, the data is important to brands who must tailor messages to pique the attention of teens online in such a way that they’ll use the information to comparison shop, talk to friends on Facebook, and bring their interest in a brand or product offline where they can shop for it.

Is your brand speaking to teens online in the right ways and in the right places? They might not be doing what you think they’re doing online. Make sure your marketing efforts are targeted to their actual online behaviors and preferences, not your assumptions.

Image: Tyler Adams

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.