'Mini Millennials' Heavily Influence Electronics Purchases . / Credit: 'Mini Millennials' image via Shutterstock

If you see pods of plugged-in, screen-obsessed young people ages 13 to 17 wandering the consumer electronics aisles, don't write them off as sales sources just because of the lack of cash (or credit) in their pockets. These "mini-millennials" have an outsize influence on the consumer electronics (CE) purchases of older generations with greater disposable income, a new study shows.

The study, which was conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), breaks down the millennial cohort into adult millennials born between 1981 and 1994, and youth millennials, the so-called mini-millennials born between 1995 and 1999. It compared millennial CE purchases with those of the silent generations (1928-1945), baby boomers (1946-1964) and Generation X (1965-1980).

Among the generations, millennials have the highest intent to purchase CE devices, with 75 percent planning to purchase CE products in the next 12 months, the study found.

While income-constrained youth millennials do not spend as much money on CE devices as adult millennials, they do heavily influence their friends’ and family members’ CE purchases, thereby influencing overall purchasing trends.

Among youth millennials, more than half (60 percent) say they have some influence on their parents’ CE purchases, and 41 percent give advice to friends and/or parents on the CE products they should purchase.

Among adult millennials, 33 percent give advice to friends and/or parents on the CE products they should purchase.

Overall, millennials not only influence what CE devices and accessories others purchase but where others buy CE products. Of the generation, 32 percent of youth millennials and 28 percent of adult millennials say they give advice to friends and/or family on where to shop for CE devices.

Despite their heavy use of social media and the Internet, millennials still rely on brick-and-mortar retail stores for CE purchases. Two in five millennials (42 percent) usually visit a store prior to purchasing a CE product and half of millennials believe it is important to touch and feel a product (55 percent) or play with or use a product (49 percent) before purchasing.

When millennials visit a retail store prior to purchasing their CE device, they usually interact with a physical product in some capacity, either by looking at the product (51 percent), playing with or using the product (52 percent), looking at the product packaging (38 percent) or getting a demonstration (30 percent).

"The millennial generation is a crucial audience for electronics manufacturers and retailers," said Rhonda Daniel, manager of market research for CEA. "Millennials not only seek electronics at a high rate for themselves, they also exert a great deal of influence on the CE purchases of others in their circles. While some consumers within the millennial generation, specifically the youth millennials, do not have the disposable income of their older cohorts, we expect they will continue to invest in CE products and services as they age and their levels of income rise.”

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.