Teens Spending More on Experiences, Less on Possessions

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Thursday, April 16, 2015

Teens Spending More on Experiences, Less on Possessions

*The following is excerpted from an online articles from Piper Jaffray and Business News Network.

Piper Jaffray's most recent semi-annual survey of U.S. teenagers finds that they are increasingly spending money on experiences, and are increasingly optimistic about the improving economy.

“Teens have gone from a possessions-based expression and logo-based clothing into these experiential components – like dining out and going to Imax,” said Stephanie Wissink, co-director of research and senior research analyst, at Piper Jaffray.

Teens’ appetites for $5 lattes and $10 mission-style burritos continues to grow by favoring Starbucks, Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, Panera Bread and Olive Garden for their dining bucks.

Teens in this spring’s survey exhibited stronger views of economic improvement with females slightly less optimistic than their male counterparts. Even unemployed teens reflected consistently optimistic economic views to their employed friends, albeit not as strongly positive.

Among the survey's key findings:

  • Teens directly command $75 billion of discretionary spending, but largely as a result of the 2008 recession, teens have become budget-conscious value seekers
  • 35% of teens are part-time employed, compared to 33% in the 2014 spring survey
  • Teens increasingly prefer to shop online rather than in-store; however, they continue to prefer sites with physical locations over eTailers
  • Athletic-leisure, preppy, leggings and jogging pants are among the top teen fashion trends
  • Most preferred brands include Ralph Lauren, Nike, Lululemon, Victoria’s Secret, Vineyard Vines, UGG Australia and Timberland
  • 36% anticipate playing more video games in 2015—the highest intention to play more games in the survey in at least four years
  • Apple cracks the top 10 of teen watch preferences for the first time in the survey’s history
  • Teen interest in Apple products remains high; 66% own iPhones and 64% own iPads

Piper Jaffray's Taking Stock With Teens survey is a semi-annual research project comprised of gathering input from approximately 6,200 teens with an average age of 16.3 years. Teen spending patterns, fashion trends, and brand and media preferences were assessed through visits to a geographically diverse subset of high schools across the U.S.

Sources: Piper Jaffray, Business News Network