HELSINKI: The vast majority of teenagers are willing to actively engage with brands on the internet, according to a survey covering five major markets.

Sulake, the owner of Habbo, a "virtual world" that operates on a similar model to Second Life but which is targeted specifically at teenagers, published the new study.

It conducted a poll among 5,300 members of this platform in Australia, Canada, Singapore, the UK and US in order to establish their activities and preferences related to the web.

It found that 72% of participants had already connected with a brand in some way on the internet, such as by becoming a "fan" or "friend" of the product concerned on a social network.

More specifically, 58% had joined a group tied to a specific company, while 40% had discussed brands by name online and 35% had taken part in a web-based activity hosted by a manufacturer.

A further 41% had received a digital "branded item" and 25% had "traded" this sort of offering, a trend which showed the importance of virtual goods to young consumers, according to Sulake.

Some 40% of respondents had also submitted user-generated content like photos, videos, stories and "pixel art" to competitions held by brands, while a further 40% agreed they might do so in the future.

Elsewhere, 42% of the panel had made their first purchase of a product after a "digital experience", such as viewing a company website, reading an official email or receiving a mobile coupon.

"Teenagers are a pretty discerning bunch and gaining their support and loyalty can be tough for brands," said Phil Guest, executive vice president of global advertising sales at Sulake.

"They live their lives as much online as offline, which gives brands an ideal opportunity to engage with this hard to reach group."

Data sourced from Sulake; additional content by Warc staff