Teenage Online Shopping Trends

Teenagers spend a whole lot of money. The 35.6 million adolescents in america are accomplished multi-channel shoppers and notoriously fickle, so marketing to them is a challenge. Fortunately, this age group is a favourite topic of consumer researchers and a whole lot of recent data exists to gauge the current tendencies.

Investment company Piper Jaffray recently released the results of its twenty-fifth semi-annual survey and report,”Taking Stock With Teens.” The report states that 70 percent of teenagers prefer to shop at their favorite stores online. Teens are shopping more through the Internet and brick and mortar outlet shops and less at specialty shops. The research found that parent gifts to adolescent purchases have dropped, both in the top and middle-income levels. Teens have to produce more of their own resources, which might account for adolescents shopping less at pricier specialty shops. Parent donations decreased by almost 10 percent from the prior survey, but a vast majority of teens report that their parents still subsidize over half of the spending.

In the spring 2013 survey, 79 percent of adolescent females and 76 percent of men stated that they shopped online. That represents a 4% increase for females over autumn 2012, but a 6% reduction for men. While clothes remains the most often purchased items by teenagers — 21 percent of all expenses — they’re spending less on fashion items. Besides apparel, footwear and electronics are the most popular online shopping items. In both of these categories, men do more shopping than women. In general, teenagers spend a disproportionate amount of money on clothes.

Best Shopping Websites

Over the last year, according to the Piper Jaffray survey results, the top 3 sites for adolescents were Amazon, eBay, and Nike, with Amazon growing ten percentage points between spring 2012 and spring 2013 — from 13 percent to 23 percent. Teens also enjoy visiting the sites of brands which provide products targeted to adolescents.

Social Media

Facebook and YouTube are still the preferred social networking websites for adolescents and 53% of females and 52 of men indicate that social media affects their purchases, with Facebook being the most crucial. However Facebook seems to have lost influence over the previous six months, with just 33 percent of adolescents reporting it as the most important social networking influencer in the spring 2013 poll compared with 42 percent in the autumn 2012 survey. Instagram and Twitter are picking up the slack and anecdotal evidence exists that teenagers are moving to Tumblr and Reddit — although the Piper Jaffray survey failed to show signs of this.


The mobile phone is the principal access to the web for 25 percent of those between 12 and 17 years old. Forty-eight percentage of adolescents possess an iPhone and 58 percent own a pill based on the Piper Jaffray report. For people who have a smartphone, 50 percent use it as the primary way of accessing the Web.

Teens are rarely disconnected from their mobile devices so it’s ideal to customize sites for mobile users. Mobile devices are used for browsing, purchasing, searching for vouchers, and checking in with friends to get their views.

Qualities of Teenagers

Teens are conscious but not always brand loyal. Friends, whose opinions they value, heavily influence purchasing behaviour. Peer approval of purchases is quite important, especially to women. The Piper Jaffray report says that friends had the most influence over adolescent purchase decisions and about 50 percent of both males and females stated social media affected them.

Shopping is a core social action for teenage girls who are more inclined to be swayed by actors than boys. “The Teenage Girl as Consumer and Communicator,” a 2010 report from Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, revealed that teenaged women are shrewd shoppers with over 60 percent waiting for things to go on sale prior to making a purchase. Seventy-seven percent said they’re more inclined to purchase a reduced price post than one at full price.

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Teenaged girls are wise shoppers, often waiting for things to go on sale before buying.

Other findings from this research are as follows.

  • Email important. Nearly 40 percent of adolescent girls subscribe to emails from their favourite brands to receive information regarding sales and promotions.
  • Sharing is common. Sixty-five percent state when their favourite brand has a sale, they wish to share the information with their very best friend or sister, and 57 percent say when they find a new brand or fashion, they tell a best friend or sister. About 80 percent prefer to share the information by calling or texting instead of posting to social networking platforms.
  • Celebrities influence. Forty-three percent are affected by the style of actors.

Teens have short attention spans, particularly regarding advertisements. They filter out a whole lot of the messages and are often doing other things while shopping on the internet, especially if they’re on a mobile device. To keep them engaged, ask for their comments or provide them a chance to express their tastes. Messaging that’s concise, transparent, and contains a point is vital to garner their attention.

It can be time consuming to keep up with the changing inclinations of teens but they do have substantial purchasing power. It is worth the effort.