New Study Shows Exclusives Keep Teen Shoppers Loyal

While the world tends to focus on millennials, 13% of the U.S. is made up of teens between the ages of 10 and 19. Did you know that, per one study I saw, teens hold $44 million in spending power? 

While many of us who are parents think teens view us as their personal ATMs, a reported 39% of the 26 million teens in the U.S. hold part-time jobs according to the same study. These teens will soon come of age, so it’s important for marketers to get in front of this important demographic.

Over 1,100 teens between the ages of 13 and 19 participated in our 2017 teen shopper survey. Thirty-one percent of those surveyed spend more than $50 a week of their own money. But even more important, 66% of teens influence their parent’s buying decisions. Of the teens we surveyed, 43% relayed they were employed.

Born into digital:

This teen generation was truly born digital.

  • 26% reported getting their first digital device before the age of 10.
  • 80% said their smartphones are the device used most on a daily basis.
  • A whopping 58% reported 5+ hours of daily smartphone usage.



Digital is the center of their universe: 

Have you ever tried to pry a smartphone out of a teen’s hand? For teens, it’s no surprise that their digital device is the center of their world. 

  • Listening to music (85%)
  • Texting (83%)
  • Web browsing (77%)
  • Interacting with friends (74%)
  • Playing games (72%)
  • Streaming video (58%)
  • Researching (56%)
  • Shopping online (56%)
  • Making friends (35%)

Naturally, teens are using social media as well, and the older the teen, the more the teen is active across multiple social platforms.

  • Snapchat leads with 76% of teens reporting they are active on this platform. 73% are active on Instagram, Facebook at 64%, 38% on Twitter and 35% are active on Pinterest

Teens and their shopping habits

While 31% of the teens we surveyed reported they are spending on average $50 a week, 15% said they were spending upwards of $100 and 10% reported they spend between $100 and $149 weekly. Those numbers give evidence to the future spending power of teens as they acquire full-time jobs and enter adulthood.

But here’s where it really gets interesting. What are they spending their money on, and where and why?

  • 79% on food in-store as contrasted by 4% online/10% combining online/offline shopping
  • Entertainment was pretty evenly split between online and offline purchases: 23% in-store, 22% online and 21% combination of online/offline
  • Non-food consumables: 38% in-store, 10% online and 25% reported shopping both online/offline
  • Snacks/candy own in-store with teens. 79% reported shopping in-store, 4% online and 9% combination of online/offline
  • 39% shopped for music online, while both in-store and online/offline shopping came in at 16%

Teens like shopping in-store for instant gratification. Eighteen percent reported they preferred in-store for immediacy, followed by 12% not wanting to pay shipping charges, and 11% believing the store offered wider variety.

Those teens who prefer online shopping do so for convenience (17%) followed by 13% believing the price is lower online; 12% saying they can send gifts more easily, and 11% reporting online offers easier comparison shopping and wider selection.

Low prices and quality make teen shoppers loyal, but it’s exclusives that keep them loyal.

Teen shoppers are savvier shoppers than you might think. Budget conscious, they look for low prices. They want to protect their investments by buying quality products, but if you want to gain their loyalty, they are looking for exclusives and membership benefits. The older the teen, the more important this value exchange becomes.

In addition to exclusives, teens like coupons and promotions just like other shoppers. Eighty-four percent of teens are influenced by coupons compared to 92% of overall shoppers. And teens are actively looking for promotional deals: 82% in-store, 70% online discount codes and 61% search for digital coupons. 

If you want to reach teens, it’s all about authenticity.

Teens find most advertising more manipulative than informative. They felt too many products do not live up to their claims. Seventy-seven percent preferred real situations showing real people, per Adweek. Sixty-five percent of them dislike advertising that makes life look perfect, says Barkley. And 61% like advertising that shows diversity, according to FutureCast.

So, if you’re looking to market to teens, as with any demographic, the key is to market with them, not at them.

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