Two-thirds of children between the ages of 7 and 13 would prefer to have a tech gadget rather than a toy to play with, according to Allison Arling-Giorgi, senior director of strategic innovation at The Intelligence Group.  Children in that age group — some 46 million strong — make up the bulk of the consumer segment that researchers have labeled “Generation Z,” according to new research. KidsTechnology

Why are they important from a marketing perspective? According to Arling-Giorgi, those children are “the main drivers behind parental purchases.”

For those still looking for signs that the era of mobile has arrived, Arling-Giorgi provided a convincing statistic. She reported that nearly 60% of the GenZers that the company studied access the Internet from a mobile phone at least once a week.

And Generation Z does its homework before buying a product, or having Mom or Dad buy it for them. More than half of the segment was found to do online product research before buying.

The group also has “a need to be heard,” said Arling-Giorgi. One-quarter of the segment wants a say in product development, while 30% want to customize their own products. And 60% said they would prefer customized products whether or not they did the actual customizing.

Their preference in ads? “They’re looking for funny messages,” said Arling-Giorgi. Top-rated ads considered funny by the group included spots for Doritos, GEICO and Allstate. After funny, she said, kids in the segment are drawn to ads that “teach or inspire.”

[Source:  Research conducted by The Intelligence Group (IG), a division of Creative Artists Agency (CCA).  13 Mar. 2013.  Web. 19 Mar. 2013.]