Commentary

Teen Talk

Online and offline conversations are estimated to drive almost one-fifth of consumer sales in the US. As marketers turn their attention to Gen Z, it pays to know what they’re talking about, especially as a new report from Engagement Labs reveals that they have 35% more product conversations daily than adults ages 21 and older (13.4 vs. 9.9), from Data Engagement Labs and Marketing Charts.

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Gen Z’s Most Talked About Brands; % Increase From 2013 (% 13-20 year olds on average day)

iPhone

18%

Apple

15%

Coke

14.6

Samsung

12.1

Nike

11.2

McDonald’s

11.0

Walmart

9.5

Pepsi

6.3

Source: Data Engagement Labs; Published Marketing Charts Sep. 2018

 insights from the study that defines teens/Gen Z as people ages 13-20.

Teen Tech Talk Shifts to Popular Services and Devices

Compared to 2013, fewer teens are talking about less-portable brands, such as Toshiba, Microsoft and Asus. Despite the continued popularity of gaming as a leisure activity among youth, teens are talking less about Nintendo, Xbox and PlayStations, says the report, reflecting the rise to prominence of mobile gaming platforms.

Popular services and devices are capturing the attention of today’s teens enough to warrant a conversation, says the report. More than twice as many talk about Amazon (+127%) and Facebook (+115%) as did 5 years ago, though one in 3 teens thinks Facebook is for “old people.” Meanwhile, more teens are also talking now about brands including the iPhone, iTunes, Google, and Android, reinforce the importance of mobile devices in their day-to-day lives.

Apple Dominates the Conversation

31% of teenagers talk about Apple-owned brands on a daily basis.

Indeed, says the report, Apple-owned brands occupy the top 2 spots in the list of Gen Z’s most talked-about brands. 18% of teens talk about the iPhone on an average day, representing an 82% increase from 2013. Second on the list of Gen Z’s most talked-about brands is Apple itself, as 15% of teens talk about the brand online and/or offline during a typical day.

NB: Teens’ love of the iPhone has been demonstrated in other research, too. In its latest “Taking Stock With Teens” survey, Piper Jaffray revealed that 84% of Gen Z will choose the iPhone as their next phone, the highest rate of intent in the survey’s history.

Other brands in the most-talked about list include:

  • Coca-Cola (#3), spoken about by 14.6% of teens on a typical day, but down 21% from 2013;
  • Samsung (#4), the topic of conversation for 12.1% of teens on a typical day, reinforcing how integral mobile phones are to their lives; and
  • Nike (#5), spoken about by 11.2% of teens on a typical day, up 34% from 2013.

Teens Talk About Social Issues… And Shopping

The biggest topic of conversation among teens is… schools and education. Fully 58% of Gen Z talks about school on an average day, compared to 18% of adults ages 21 and older.The second-most talked-about topic by teens is shopping, with more doing so daily than adults ages 21 and up (39% and 32%, respectively).

Beyond these leading topics, the data shows that Gen Z is talking about social issues, often at a rate greater than the adult (21+) population.

For example:

  • 30% talk about the President on an average day, versus 28% of adults ages 21+
  • 23% talk about events in other countries on an average day, versus 17% of adults ages 21+
  • 17% talk about women’s issues on an average day, versus 8% of adults ages 21+
  • 16% talk about the environment on an average day, versus 8% of adults ages 21+and
  • 15% talk about immigration on an average day, versus 11% of adults ages 21+

The only issue highlighted that they’re far less likely to speak about than adults is Healthcare.

Destination Retail, Auto Down; Restaurants Up

Finally, the report highlights a few other category trends. Teens are talking a lot more about restaurants than they were five years ago. Conversation levels have at least tripled for Baskin & Robbins and Del Taco, and more than doubled for Domino’s Pizza and California Pizza Chicken. McDonald’s has seen a 2% dip in the number of teens talking about it daily since 2013. Other quick-service restaurants – Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King – join McDonald’s in depressed conversation levels.

Finally, unlike restaurants where the preponderance of conversation is trending upwards, auto brands are largely seeing declines in conversation. That’s true for Chrysler, Lexus, Dodge, Volkswagen, Ford, and many others. Those that have been able to transcend that trend include Lamborghini, Jeep, Ferrari and Jaguar, while Tesla is the only one to see a doubling in conversation levels.

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