How To Score A Spot On Their Holiday Wish Lists

The holiday season kicked off strong—both online and in-store—but there’s still time to make it onto savvy teen wish lists. While younger children mark those ideas down in crayon, their older teen siblings never stop using smartphones to point out gift ideas and deals to their parents while doing a little self-gifting, too, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, "Holiday Shopping’s Great Age Divide."

So what do teens want under the tree? Several surveys point to one undeniable fact: Technology will weigh down Santa’s sleigh this year. The 2012 Ebates Holiday Wish List Survey (conducted nationally by Harris Interactive on behalf of online shopping site Ebates.com) found that youth aged 8-18 pine for these gifts most: a laptop computer, the latest iPhone and clothes. 

And according to Nielsen Wire, the top four out of five most-wanted gifts for children and teens bear an Apple logo. Among consumers aged 13 and older, tablets and full-sized computers were the top electronics choices, with roughly one in five indicating they want to acquire the iPad (vs. 24% last year), any other tablet, or a computer. Consumers 13 years and older are also interested in purchasing the Wii U, the iPhone and Internet-enabled TVs. E-readers showed a slight decline in interest from 2011.  

Luckily, there’s no reason to despair if you don’t happen to work on Apple or another consumer electronics brands. With families struggling with the economic downturn, we expect to see a variety of gifts under the tree this year. Using our own peer-to-peer teen research with girls 12-18, we were able to uncover insights to help your brand earn a spot on teen wish lists this year and in the future: 

• Brand building is crucial. Teens are extremely conscious of brand names and greatly influenced in brand choices by their peers. The young people we polled named names over and over again as they recited their wish lists. Allie, age 16, told us she wanted Forever 21 clothing, Steve Madden boots and a Mac. Christine, 18, hopes to unwrap American Eagle and Forever 21 clothes, as well as iPhone accessories. Rose, also 18, favors gift cards for her favorite brands: Forever 21, H&M, Urban Outfitters and Victoria’s Secret. 

• Trends and fashions are fleeting. The brands teens love know how to stay on top of what’s cool and what isn’t. For starters many of the brands teens mentioned frequently, such as Apple and Mac cosmetics, put a premium on sleek design—from websites and packaging to the products themselves. Other popular brands like Victoria’s Secret have created sub-brands to stay on top of teen trends without alienating older customers. The retailer’s Pink line plays to teen style with a rotating cast of bright colors and patterns.

• Celebrities influence teen gift lists. According to the Ebates.com survey, the number one celebrity who would influence a girl teen’s wish list is Taylor Swift. That’s why for Katelan, 12, Taylor Swift concert tickets are at the top of her list. And for Stephanie, 17, Nikki Minaj Perfume is up there with an Apple iPad and clothing from, where else, Forever 21. Teens also look for budget-friendly ways to re-create the celebrity style they see online and in fashion magazines.

It might be hard to capture the attention of teens, but once you do, they’re likely to tell all their friends about you. Think of it as the ultimate popularity contest.

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