Posted April 12, 2013 11:12 am by with 3 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

The folks at Piper Jaffray are a very brave lot. They put themselves in close proximity with 5,200 teens (average age of 16.3 years) in order to quantify their spending habits. They did this, so marketers like you could have a better understanding of how teenagers think without having to actually get close to one. You can thank them later. But right now, let’s take a look at what they got.

The survey is called the 25th semi-annual “Taking Stock With Teens” project and it begins with an overview of teen spending by category.

teen spending

Incredibly, most of their money goes to fashion. Upper-income teens said they’re spending a little less but plan to spend more in the near future. Maybe they’re waiting for the new spring fashions to land in stores. Average-income teens are spending a little more than usual and I don’t even have a guess as to why.

Teens in every income bracket are spending more on athletic brands. They list Nike as the biggest trend in school along with yoga pants from Lululemon. And don’t feel bad if you have to look up that brand. I did. “Fast Fashion” such as Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe hit its lowest point since 2009. Classics such as Ralph Lauren hit a high last fall with upper income teens but has dropped off for spring. This looks like a regular pattern. So it’s preppy for fall and casual for spring.

online spending by categoryThe survey showed a slight increase in online spending in all areas except Accessories. Footwear saw the biggest gain which goes along with the fact that it’s hard to find a shoe store in your average mall. It also points to the fact that teens don’t worry about fit so much as fashion.

70% of teens said that when it comes to their favorite stores, they prefer shopping online. 79% of females and 76% of males said that around 18% of their spending was done online.

When they do shop at brick and mortar stores, they not only prefer off-price stores, but they say it’s the popular way to shop.

Influence and Social Media

Teens said that their friends had the most influence over their purchase decisions and about 50% of both boys and girls said they were influenced social media. But take a gander at this chart:


social media and teens

Facebook is sinking in popularity. (Note that on this chart, unlike the previous chart, the dark bar is the oldest date) It’s now on par with YouTube, which also lost quite a few teens this past year. Twitter gained some ground in the past few months and Instagram is staying strong. Tumblr, which was a haven for creative teens, also took a big hit.

Top websites for teens — Amazon leads with 23%, followed by eBay and Nike. 7 out of the top 10 were clothing stores which brings us back to where we began.

If you market to teens, you should read the full “Taking Stock with Teens” report. It’s free and it’s loaded with detailed information regarding where teens like to eat, how they consume digital information and more. Click the link in the last sentence and it’s all yours.






  • Doreen Dickens

    21% on clothing!!! Really? Teens need lessons on money spending…thanks for sharing though. You can catch me at

  • valentimysticchevy

    21% on clothing is quite reasonable…… Teens are more concerned with fashion these days.

    Bob Valenti Chevy

  • lemino

    Thanks for sharing this. Have you any idea how I can get the free report? I get to a page asking me to “contact your Piper Jaffray representative for more information”… I don’t have a rep… ?