Twice a year Piper Jaffray publishes their Taking Stock with Teens research. It’s become something I look forward to, especially at this time of the year as the holiday shopping season shifts into high gear. Given that today is Black Friday, it seems appropriate to consider how teens are thinking about brands and where they’re spending their money.
This latest report is based on responses from 10,000 teens, with an average age of 16. Of those surveyed, 2,800 were categorized as being in the upper-income group (those with an average household income of $109,000) and 7,200 were placed in the average-income group (those with an average household income of $53,000). Both groups were contacted through a combination of classroom visits and electronic surveys.
The one thing that seems a little odd about the research is the geographical breakdown of respondents: South, 45%; Midwest, 30%; West, 17%, and Northeast, 8%. That doesn’t seem to map to the population distribution but shouldn’t invalidate the data either. Keep it in mind as you look at the numbers.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the key findings.
Fashion and Footwear
This category accounts for 38% of all teen spending. One of the most striking things about the findings in this category is the deep dive on denim. It’s something I take for granted but Piper Jaffray really drills into the topic. Among upper-income females, mindshare associated with denim rose to almost 20%. What was behind this uptick? American Eagle Outfitters. The company was the main driver of interest in this category.
Curiously, ripped jeans — and jeans in general — top the list of fashion trends for upper-income females, which Piper Jaffray cites as “signaling to us that there is a chance in the casual uniform.” According to the research, 50% of upper-income females had purchased denim in the 30 days preceding the survey and planned to again in the next three months.
Here are the top five denim brands/retailers among upper-income females:
When it comes to shoes, boys continue to favor athletic footwear. A full 86% selected an athletic brand as their footwear of choice. Among girls, that number was just 58% but is trending upwards.
Here’s the breakdown of preferred teen footwear brands:
Nike - 51%
Nike - 53%
Vans - 9%
Vans - 9%
Converse - 7%
Converse - 7%
Adidas - 6%
Adidas - 5%
Steve Madden - 2%
Foot Locker - 3%
Spending on food and in restaurants accounts for 23% of teen spending. A growing slice of teen spending goes to limited service, rather than full service, restaurants. According to the survey, 64% of teen spending occurs in limited service restaurants. This continues as a trend first observed in the spring of 2009. At that point, spending for full-service restaurants accounted for 57% of the total teen tab.
Here’s the breakdown of the preferred restaurant brands, as well as the average check size for each:
Social Media and Digital Devices
This category accounts for 26% of teen spending. It was also, by far, the most interesting (to me at least). I always look to this report and to Pew’s to get a sense of how the various social platforms are stacking up. Not surprisingly, Snapchat is at the top of the list of social channels teens are using at least once per month.
Here’s the breakdown of all of the platforms, with last fall’s numbers thrown in for good measure:
Now just because people use one platform more than another, does that mean they like it more? Let's check that out!
Here’s the breakdown of teens’ favorite social platforms, again comparing 2015 and 2016 numbers:
So geez, except for Snapchat, everyone else’s numbers look flat or on the decline. That can’t be making many social execs happy!
What about the devices to access these social channels? Not talking about PCs and laptops but mobile devices. Piper Jaffray doesn’t look at the breakdown of Android vs. iOS but they do find that an absolute ton of teens (74%) either own or expect their next phone to be an iPhone (79%).
This is just a tiny peek into the full Piper Jaffray research. If you’re interested in teen spending habits and behaviors, I encourage you to contact Piper Jaffray for access to the full report.