Taking stock with teens—Generation Z brand and shopping preferences

by | Apr 25, 2018 | Public Relations

Marketers and communicators are still figuring out how to best engage with (and get the attention of) the emerging Generation Z, and new research from investment bank and asset management firm Piper Jaffray sheds some light on teens’ favorite brands and shopping behaviors.

The firm recently completed its 35th semi-annual Taking Stock with Teens survey, which highlights discretionary spending trends and brand preferences amongst 6,000 teens across 40 U.S. states.

Generation Z, which contributes approximately $830 billion to U.S. retail sales annually*, represents an influential consumer group where wallet size and allocation provide a proxy for category interest.

“Our spring survey has shown an uptick in teen spending, which we believe mirrors the economic expansion we are experiencing broadly. Within a teen’s wallet, food is the top priority but video games (for males) and beauty (for females) are gaining share,” said Erinn Murphy, Piper Jaffray senior research analyst, in a news release. “We are seeing strong signs of a brand cycle led by 1990s and streetwear styles with adidas, Vans, Supreme and Tommy Hilfiger as the most notable positive brand movers.”

Taking stock with teens—Generation Z brand and shopping preferences

Key findings of the research:

Spending & Shopping Behavior

  • Food reaccelerates as teens’ No. 1 spending category, returning to its 24-percent peak.
  • Male spending on video games reaches a new peak at 13 percent, closing in on fashion.
  • Beauty spending hit a new high for females at $368 per year led by skincare, up 18 percent year-over-year.
  • Department stores and legacy channels continue to shed share as online hits new highs.

Brand Preferences

  • Streetwear has seen the largest incremental gains led by Vans (No. 1 footwear brand) and Supreme (No. 7 apparel brand); 1990s revival underway with Champion and Tommy Hilfiger.
  • Nike mindshare declines; adidas is firmly No. 3 brand (14 percent share footwear, 6 percent apparel).
  • Ralph Lauren moves out of top-10 brand list for males, formerly a top-10 brand since 2002.
  • Intent to buy iPhone reaches a new high—84 percent of Gen-Z will choose the iPhone next (compared to 82 percent last fall).
  • eBay mindshare declined to its lowest level recorded at 1.8 percent, compared to 3 percent in fall 2017.

The Piper Jaffray Taking Stock with Teens survey is a semi-annual research project that gathers input from approximately 6,000 teens with an average age of 16.4 years. Discretionary spending patterns, fashion trends, technology, and brand and media preferences are assessed through surveying a geographically diverse subset of high schools across the U.S. Since the project began in 2001, Piper Jaffray has surveyed more than 161,000 teens and collected over 42 million data points on teen spending.

* Source: Fung Global Retail & Technology

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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