Female Teens Spending Less on everything - Media Consumption

According to the Piper Jaffray 27th semi-annual “Taking Stock With Teens” market research project, teen spending contracted just 1% from the Fall of 2013, compared to more substantial declines previously. Across both the upper and average income groups, teen male spending is up 4% from Fall 2013. This compares to continued mid-single digit declines among females.

Overall, the report notes that parent contribution to teen spending bounced back to the 65% of spend range, following a period of contraction. Teen unemployment remains elevated, but off of peak levels. Time priorities have shifted, showing that advanced placement courses are the norm. Year-round single sport/activities are more common, and school years are starting earlier and ending later (shortening the opportune summer employment period).

A quick snapshot of the survey results, including fashion, beauty and personal care, restaurants, digital media, gaming, and wireless communication includes the following:

  • Teen males indicated they were spending more, which has historically signaled inflection in broader spending
  • For the first time in the survey history, food exceeded clothing as a percentage of the teen spending. Electronics also gained in share, while furniture and fashion lost modest share.
  • Declines in the fashion category were most severe in accessories, down double-digits for a second cycle in a row
  • 17% of teens expressed interest in an Apple iWatch, up 12% from Fall 2013, an indication of consumer appetite
  • Instagram ranked as the most important social network, exceeding Twitter and Facebook for the first time in survey history
  • Cable subscriptions are becoming less essential for teens at home, while online streaming is more critical. Out of home, IMAX continues growing share among teens
  • Music/radio listenership has grown for Pandora and local radio, largely at the cost of MP3s and CDs

Influences remain consistent, with friends dominating both upper income and average income. followed by the Internet, says the report. The Internet first displaced television as the No. 2 influencer with teens in the Fall 2010 survey, and the report indicates that this uptrend will likely continue as social networking and online shopping drive teens online. Instagram and Twitter are the two most used social media sites, as teens are increasingly visual and sound bite communicators.

Social Network Utilization by Teens (% of Respondents)
% of Respondents/Most Important
Fall, 2012
Spring, 2013
Fall, 2013
Spring, 2014
Source: Piper Jaffray, April 2014

More complete information about individual categories is also included:

The teen food category represents restaurants and dining out. The study uncovered a modest increase in spending devoted to events (including concerts, festivals, etc.). Within the fashion category, clothing increased modestly at the expense of footwear and accessories. In addition, there has been a continuation of a lifestyle/participation-based trend in athletic fashion. These data points are evidence of a trend toward experiences versus items worn, and a notable shift in perceived status spending.

Key findings from the survey in fashion, beauty and personal care, restaurants, digital media, gaming, and wireless communication include the following:

  • Within the fashion category, says the report, the declines were most severe in the accessories classification, down double-digits across genders and income classes for a second cycle in a row. Spending on apparel stabilized at flat for upper income teens and down 2% for average income teens. Spending on accessories declined 22% among upper income and 26% among average income teens on a year over year basis
  • Shopping frequency has declined from a peak rate of 38 trips/year to 29 trips/year (one every 1.75 weeks). Fall 2013 appears to have marked the low point at 28 trips. Mall traffic in the teen space has declined 30% cumulatively in the last 10 years. Teens are browsing more often via their mobile devices, shopping with purpose (conversion rates are up), buying when they have a real or perceived need, and visiting the mall less for entertainment value
  • Teens prefer off-price venues to traditional department stores for their fashion needs, and are increasingly shopping online and on their phones. When asked about preferences between shopping in store and online, about three-quarters of the females polled prefer stores over sites, but the males are closer to a fifty-fifty split. Moreover, when asked about preferences between pure play e-commerce sites and sites associated with stores when shopping for clothing, only 14% of females and 24% of males prefer the pure play e-commerce sites
  • Across both upper income and average income sub-sets, the top five preferred clothing brands were consistent to the prior year and prior season, but rank and share shifted slightly. In the upper income group (teens that tend to be trend leaders), Action Sports Brands ceded share as Forever 21 gained share. Within Action Sports Brands, teens listed 29 unique lifestyle brands, evidence of extended boundaries around the core lifestyle aesthetic into areas of streetwear, urban and culturally inspired trends

The report concludes by noting that survey results point to four distinct fashion themes: stability in demand for Action Sports Brand; moderation in Fast Fashion preference among teen girls; cresting of the refined classic cycle, and evolving demand for fashion athletic brands. In addition to these trends, an increasingly active teen is catering to growing demand for performance athletic brands.


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