Teen Shopping Habits and Trends

While marketers are obsessed with fulfilling the requirements of millennials, another demographic group with tremendous spending power is nipping at their heels: teens.

There are approximately 26 million teens in america and 39 percent of them are utilized part-time. Teens are a part of the bigger Generation Z market — people born between 1996 and 2015.

While like millennials, teenagers have some different preferences. The newly published Spring 2017″Taking Stock with Teens” report from investment firm Piper Jaffray provides insights into adolescent online and offline buying trends. According to a survey of 5,500 adolescents — 75 percent average earnings and 25 percent upper income — the report clarifies shopping trends and spending patterns. Piper Jaffray has completed this semi survey 33 times.

How adolescents Differ

The term”digital natives” has been used to characterize Generation Z. They’re the first generation to have the Internet at their disposal. They grew up in a world that’s seamlessly connected. Teens are conscious but not completely loyal. They search for quality products and rely on social media to notify them.

Forty-one percent of teenagers identify an athletic apparel brand as their favorite clothing brand with Nike topping the list.

They’re the first generation to have the Internet at their disposal. They grew up in a world that’s seamlessly connected.

They aren’t spendthrifts. Despite having $44 billion in purchasing power, teenagers are usually buying less. Spending by teenagers dropped 2.4 percent from 2016 to 2017 to about $2,500, according to the Piper Jaffray survey. Thirty-nine percentage of teens are part-time and the fall in spending isn’t necessarily an economic matter. Parents’ contribution to adolescent spending was 63 percent, down from 68 percent in the prior survey.

A growing taste for experiences within possessions gave food a larger share in their budgets. For male adolescents, food was the greatest expenditure followed by clothes and video games. Females ranked clothes their top spending priority followed by food and personal care items. In general, apparel sales dropped to 19 percent of teens’ spending, down from 21 percent in the same period in 2014.

Where Do Teens Shop?

While they haven’t given up on brick-and-mortar shops, the days of drifting through malls for hours are over. Online-only merchants captured 17 percent of adolescent shopping time, up from 10 percent in fall 2013, and became the second most popular station. Specialty brick-and-mortar shops was where adolescents spent most of their time in 2016 with a 24 percent share, down from 27 percent in fall 2013.

Specialty chains that appeal to teenagers and millennials are filing for bankruptcy or closing shops. The newest is teen clothing shop rue21, which recently announced it’s shutting 400 stores nationwide to focus on online sales. Wet Seal, another former adolescent favorite, closed all of its stores last January. Aeropostale, once a teenager favorite, emerged from bankruptcy in 2016 with just 230 of its approximately 800 retail shops remaining.

Favorite Websites

Not unlike older people, teenagers like to go to Amazon. It’s the favourite site for both males and females, capturing 43 percent of online share. The next most popular websites were Nike and American Eagle, both garnering 5% of adolescent visits. EBay suffered a small decline in share, garnering 2.5 percentage of adolescent attention.

Amazon Prime adoption has grown across all income brackets in each of the previous six Piper Jaffray surveys, most recently showing 58 percent of families with teens subscribe to Amazon Prime.

Social Media

Snapchat and Instagram are the adolescents’ favorite social networking platforms. Eighty-one percent of teenagers see Snapchat at least once each month and 79 percent trip Instagram. Twitter comes in third at 56 percent and Facebook enrolls 51 percent of teenagers visiting at least once every month.

When asked”what’s the easiest method to get a retailer/brand to communicate with you about new products or promotions? ,” 52 percent of teen respondents stated Instagram. Second most popular was email at 51 percent.

YouTube is getting more popular among teenagers for viewing video, second only to Netflix. YouTube reaches more adults and teens ages 18 to 34 than any cable network. For the first time, YouTube outpaced cable TV about how teens spend their spare time.


  • Teens are totally immersed in the digital world. Merchants should use digital channels to gain their business.
  • Mobile is the way to go. Many teens reside in a household with no landline or a desktop computer. Mobile is the way they communicate and store.
  • To reach adolescents, merchants should engage them on Snapchat and Instagram.
  • Selling to adolescents on Amazon is a winning approach.

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