What Teens Buy—and How to Reach Them

New Teen shopper study on spending and social-media habits
If you want to reach teen shoppers, head for Snapchat. A new study shows that about 40 percent of teens say it’s their favorite social-media platform, with 81 percent using it at least once a month. Instagram is strong, too (23 percent call it their favorite, compared to 11 percent for Facebook), and it continues to be adopted by younger teens. What’s more, Instagram and e-mail beat out Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat as teens’ preferred channel for hearing about new products and promotions from retailers.

These findings are from Taking Stock With Teens, investment firm Piper Jaffray’s 33rd semi-annual research survey on teen spending trends and brand preferences. The company surveyed 5,500 teens in 43 states. A few other useful insights:

  • Teens get 63 percent of their funds from their parents, down from 68 percent last year, which may indicate that more are taking part-time jobs.
  • They spend 36 percent of their money on “fashion”—clothing, shoes, accessories and cosmetics.
  • Athleisure and athletic wear continue to be strong with them.
  • The three top trends among upper-income teen girls were leggings/Lululemon, chokers (holiday gift time isn’t so far away) and Converse sneakers.
  • Vera Bradley bags, which some dance stores stock, are a popular choice for teens.

What Drives Loyalty—Really?
Millennials, especially, may not respond to what’s worked in the past.
Most stores have loyalty programs in place, but how do you know if yours is effective? “Every customer has a natural instinct around what makes them ‘stick’ to a brand,” according to Robert Wollan, global lead of advanced customer strategy at Accenture Strategy, which recently surveyed more than 25,000 consumers. “The traditional ‘low price’ and ‘reliable service’ mechanics are no longer as effective at driving loyalty.”

So what is driving customer loyalty these days? Accenture Strategy found that “a new language of loyalty has emerged,” particularly among millennials. Here’s what’s working, according to the survey, with ideas for engendering loyalty through offers of exclusivity, insider access and showing the customer that “I know you” rather than just giving discounts.

Tokens of affection. Fifty-nine percent of U.S. consumers feel loyal to brands that give them small tokens of affection, such as personalized discounts, gift cards and exclusive offers to reward their loyalty. So far, so good, right? You’re likely already doing that.

Personalization. Forty-one percent of U.S. consumers are loyal to brands that offer them the chance to personalize products. For dance stores, this could include offering special-order leos, custom colors and fits for pointe shoes or custom rhinestoning and costume appliqués. And they like you to reach out to them through their preferred channels of communication.

Insider thrills. Forty-one percent are loyal to stores that present them with new experiences, products or services. Forty-four percent are loyal to brands that actively engage them to help design or co-create products. Consider creating a VIP club, with its own special sales or trunk shows, exclusive participation in a focus group to weigh in on new products or styles for the store to stock, or early access to new arrivals.

Celebrities. One in four consumers are loyal to brands that partner with celebrities.
It doesn’t have to a be a superstar; it could be a local dancer or social-media “influencer”
or blogger whom your customers like.

For more on how storeowners manage their rewards programs, see “Rewards Programs Go Digital.”

New on Facebook…
Post a job.
Your Facebook page admin can now post a job, track applications and respond directly to the applicant via Messenger on mobile. As with other posts, you can boost job posts to target a particular audience—by location, workplace, education or “liked” pages, for instance. “It took three minutes to fill out the information and put it out there,” one business owner commented to Facebook. “Then someone saw the post, we talked, and it was done.” It’s easy for applicants, too. They see job openings in their news feed, via a jobs tab on your page or at a new bookmark, facebook.com/jobs. When they click the Apply Now button, a prepopulated form with their information comes up, which they can edit and send to you via Messenger.

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