Piper Jaffray (www.piperjaffray.com) as completed its 28th semi-annual Taking Stock With Teens market research project, which indicates increased spending across categories despite decreased optimism about the economy. Apple remains the top consumer electronics brand for teens.
Sixty-seven percent own iPhones, up 6% from spring 2014. Seventy-three percent of teens expect their next phone to be an iPhone.
“Our fall 2014 survey results indicate teens continue to diversify their tastes through discovery of emerging brands and multi-brand experimentation, even as their views of the economy worsen,” says Steph Wissink, co-director of research and senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray. “We also observe trends that indicate teens use social media, mainly Instagram, to create their own unique personal brands and seek peer affirmation. Millennials continue to be early adopters of change who use technology to engage with brands ‘on demand’ on their own time.”
Key findings from the survey in fashion, beauty and personal care, digital media, food, gaming and entertainment include the following:
° Spending rebounds as teen employment figures improved modestly and parent contribution returned to historical levels in the 70% range. Yet teen perception of the economic climate worsened, with roughly 73% seeing the economy as staying the same or getting worse, up from just 57% a year ago.
° Male spending increased in the spring while females turned this fall and contributed to gains year over year and sequentially in total spending. This is the first period of improved spending, specifically on fashion-related goods, in nearly two years.
° Fashion spending improves with a mid/high single digit increase in apparel spending. Beauty spending increased, mainly on color cosmetics, while spending declined in accessories.
° Shopping frequency stabilizes after several years of declines but remains below historical averages, suggesting capacity rationalization is needed as teens continue to shop “on demand.” While teens still prefer to shop in-store for their fashion needs, they are increasingly shopping online and via mobile, preferring sites associated with stores versus pure play e-commerce sites.
° Teen closets are diverse, just like their social circles and lifestyles. The millennial thirst for adventure is clear with experimentation, discovery and individuality being the new cool. A key fashion trend among teens is the spirit of choice – demand for action sports, fast fashion, refined classics and fashion athletic brands stabilized or increased. Demand for legacy brands stabilizes – AE, A&F, Hollister and Aero – but is still significantly below peak mindshare and current capacity.
° This generation of teens are creating their own “stories” through purchases, experiences and activities in order to cultivate their personal brands, primarily in domains like social media and friend networks. We note that teen interest in food and electronics, at the expense of fashion goods, continues to be a strong underlying theme in our multi-year data series.
° Friends and the Internet dominate teen influences and combine in social media environments. Instagram and Twitter are the two most used social media sites, implying teens are increasingly visual and sound bite communicators.
° Percentage of teens asking for a GoPro as a gift more than doubled sequentially and more than quadrupled year-over-year.
° A key food trend amongst teens is the increasing consumption of organic food, especially among upper-income teens.
° Mobile gaming interest declines to 80%, but 22% of those that play spend money on virtual goods or extra levels, up 4% from spring 2014.