teen spending

What are teens spending on? Here’s the scoop.

By Rieva Lesonsky

Teens are a hugely impactful market for entrepreneurs, but keeping up with their changing tastes and demands can be difficult for busy small business owners. The newest edition of the semi-annual Taking Stock With Teens study from Piper Jaffray is out and there’s some interesting data. The average age of the teens surveyed was 16.5.

Overall, teen spending is down, compared to fall 2015, but spending among upper-income teens is up 2.5 percent. Piper Jaffray says this usually leads to an overall rise in teen spending, so the outlook is good. Specifically, denim and fashion athletic apparel is still popular, especially with upper-income teens. In fact, 73 percent of upper-income teens plan to buy denim in the next three months.

Spending on beauty products among upper-income teens has hit record levels. The top beauty spenders cite online influencers as their greatest buying influence, while the average spenders are influenced by their friends. Overall, beauty spending is up 20 percent from last year.

Own a restaurant? Piper Jaffray reports upper-income teens are spending 23 percent of their money at restaurants, choosing mainly limited-service eateries over full-service concepts. And while they’re price-conscious, they “consider the overall value” more than price alone. They also consider food “entertainment,” so it’s getting a considerable amount of their dollars; in fact, teens continue to spend more on food than clothing.

Perhaps not surprisingly, teens are spending a lot of their time watching YouTube—for the first time in a Piper Jaffray survey, YouTube watching outpaced cable TV.

While girls spend twice as much as boys on clothing, apparel is among the top three items boys are spending on: food (20 percent), clothing (16 percent) and video games (12 percent).

If you sell retail goods, know that teens prefer to do their online shopping on Amazon, so you should consider selling there, as well as on your own site.

Finally, everyone knows teens love social media. If you want to connect with them there, Snapchat is their preferred platform (35 percent), followed by Instagram (24 percent), Twitter and Facebook (both at 13 percent).