Report: Teens experiencing spending fatigue

Oct. 11, 2013

Investment bank Piper Jaffray & Co. has released its 26th semi-annual "Taking Stock With Teens" consumer insights project, which pointed to a sequential sign of spending moderation and tempered intent to spend across multiple categories and household income levels.

"Our fall 2013 survey results suggest teens are experiencing general spending fatigue across key categories, specifically fashion related items. The absence of a clear product catalyst is a key contributing factor to diminished spending proclivity. Intent to spend also moderated, despite over two-thirds of teens signaling confidence the economy is stable to improving," Steph Wissink, co-director of research and senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray, said in a news release. "We are also observing trends that imply teens are browsing regularly on their mobile devices, shopping less frequently and engaging with brands 'on demand' on their own time. This dynamic alters the assumptions surrounding the square footage and retail inventory needed to service this target demographic. A period of rationalization may be needed."

Some findings from the survey include:

  • The fashion category accounts for roughly 39 percent of teen budgets, consistent with prior survey cycles. Spending declined mid-single digits to the prior year and prior season. Shopping frequency declined and trip measures are down nearly 25 percent from prior peak.
  • Within the fashion category specifically, footwear is outperforming apparel and accessories and insights into key trend changes include a modest improvement in action sports mindshare, further contracting demand for "fast fashion," and growing preference for fashion athletic wear.
  • Teens are shopping less in single brand, vertically integrated stores and more in multi-branded, multicategory and online retail environment. Approximately 78 percent of females and 82 percent of males shop online, and respondents indicated that a mid-teens percentage of their spending is online.
  • Roughly 60 to 70 percent of teens indicate they prefer to shop the websites of their favorite stores-based retailers. In addition, teens prefer labels to logos and seek value in their purchases, owing to the rise of spending in the outlet and off-price channels. Approximately 71 percent of teen girls and 57 percent of teen boys shop at off-price stores.
  • The shift toward digital is proliferating softlines, hardlines and media purchases. DVD by mail and streaming account for 52 percent of movie rentals and online music provider Pandora accounts for 25 percent of preferred music sources.
  • Teens have cited "friends" as the strongest influence over their purchase decisions for the duration of our survey history, but "Internet" is quickly rising in profile. More than half of teens indicate that social media impacts their purchases with Twitter being the most important, eclipsing Facebook, followed closely by Instagram.
  • The popularity of Facebook is waning among teens with 23 percent citing it as the most important, down from 33 percent six months ago and 42 percent a year ago.

The "Taking Stock With Teens" survey is a semi-annual research project comprised of gathering input from approximately 8,650 teens with an average age of 16.2 years.

Read more about consumer behavior.

Topics: Consumer Behavior

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