What are teens buying—and how can you reach them

By Rieva Lesonsky

The newest Piper Jaffray study of teens was just released. The 36th semi-annual Generation Z survey (all teens are now members of Gen Z) shows overall teen spending is up 1% from fall 2017 results, but down 5% from  spring 2018. Food continues to be the item teens spend most of their money on, accounting for nearly one-quarter of their spend.

Upper-income boys spend most of their money on food (24%), clothing (17%) and video games (14%). Upper-income girls are mostly buying clothes (26%), food (23%) and personal care products (15%). While overall beauty spending is flat among teen girls, they’re now spending three times more on beauty than on accessories. And they spent slightly more on fashion overall.

“Brand” is becoming more important to them; in fact, 45% of teens say brand is the most important factor they consider before making a purchase (vs. 33% six years ago). Among their favorite brands: Nike remains #1 for shoes, but its share is falling, while Vans is second with a rising share of market. Their favorite makeup brands are Tarte and Too Faced, with newer brands like Morphe and Fenty (started by hiphop star Rihanna) on the rise.

The survey also noted more kids are interested in luxury brands, particularly European ones, such as Gucci.

Teens prefer to shop online (Amazon is their favorite site) instead of department stores. However, girls in general prefer to shop in-store (mostly at Sephora and Ulta) for their makeup purchases.

If you’re trying to reach teens on social media (and you should be if they’re your target market), Instagram is their favorite social platform, surpassing Snapchat. Facebook usage continues to decline in this demographic, coming in fourth, behind Twitter.

Don’t ignore this market—not only do they spend (about $2,500 each annually of their own money), but they influence family spending and impact trends in a big way. Altogether, spending by and for Gen Z contributes $830 billion in revenues to the U.S. economy.

Teen stock image by Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock