Taking stock with teens - fall 2014

A collaborative consumer insights project


Media Contact

Pamela Steensland
Piper Sandler & Co.
Tel: 612 303-8184

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Key findings from the survey in fashion, beauty and personal care, digital media, food, gaming and entertainment include the following:

  • Spending rebounds as teen employment figures improved modestly and parent contribution returned to historical levels in the 70% range. Yet teen perception of the economic climate worsened, with roughly 73% seeing the economy as staying the same or getting worse, up from just 57% a year ago.
  • Male spending increased in the spring while females turned this fall and contributed to gains year over year and sequentially in total spending. This is the first period of improved spending, specifically on fashion-related goods, in nearly two years.
  • Fashion spending improves with a mid/high single digit increase in apparel spending. Beauty spending increased, mainly on color cosmetics, while spending declined in accessories.
  • Shopping frequency stabilizes after several years of declines but remains below historical averages, suggesting capacity rationalization is needed as teens continue to shop “on demand.” While teens still prefer to shop in-store for their fashion needs, they are increasingly shopping online and via mobile, preferring sites associated with stores versus pure play e-commerce sites.
  • Teen closets are diverse, just like their social circles and lifestyles. The millennial thirst for adventure is clear with experimentation, discovery and individuality being the new cool. A key fashion trend among teens is the spirit of choice – demand for action sports, fast fashion, refined classics and fashion athletic brands stabilized or increased. Demand for legacy brands stabilizes – AE, A&F, Hollister and Aero – but is still significantly below peak mindshare and current capacity.
  • This generation of teens are creating their own “stories” through purchases, experiences and activities in order to cultivate their personal brands, primarily in domains like social media and friend networks. We note that teen interest in food and electronics, at the expense of fashion goods, continues to be a strong underlying theme in our multi-year data series.
  • Friends and the Internet dominate teen influences and combine in social media environments. Instagram and Twitter are the two most used social media sites, implying teens are increasingly visual and sound bite communicators.
  • The percentage of teens asking for a GoPro as a gift more than doubled sequentially and more than quadrupled year-over-year.
  • Apple remains the top consumer electronics brand for teens. 67% own iPhones, up 6% from spring 2014. 73% of teens expect their next phone to be an iPhone.
  • A key food trend amongst teens is the increasing consumption of organic food, especially among upper-income teens.
  • Mobile gaming interest declines to 80%, but 22% of those that play spend money on virtual goods or extra levels, up 4% from spring 2014.

About the Survey

The Taking Stock With Teens survey is a semi-annual research project comprised of gathering input from approximately 7,200 teens with an average age of 16.0 years. Teen spending patterns, fashion trends, and brand and media preferences were assessed through visits to a geographically diverse subset of high schools across 11 states and 14 schools, as well as an online survey that included 41 states. The survey is conducted in partnership with DECA, an international association of high school students. The fall survey was conducted from August 25 – September 30, 2014.