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Teen Fashion - US - May 2016

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Published Date : May 2016

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Many teen retailers have struggled (or failed) to keep up with today’s teens’ dynamic fashion preferences and digital prowess. Teens, however, are still invested in fashion despite competition for their money from other categories, namely electronics, and particularly tech devices. Retailers interested in garnering a share of the teen fashion market need to become digital leaders and social media experts as well as find ways to be nimble with merchandise assortments. Teens find their own sense of style, but they do look to retailers and brands for guidance. While they might not be loyal in the true sense of the word, they will develop affinities for brands that effectively demonstrate an understanding of – and respect for – who they are as individuals. Fair warning though: They migrate fast and are difficult to lure back once they have moved on. Retailers should be emulating others in the market that have managed to figure out how to keep in-store and online traffic and sales flowing at a steady pace.

Table of Content


What you need to know

Executive Summary

The issues
Teens are fickle
Figure 1: Favorite brands, February 2016
Teens’ sense of style is self-defined and often fluid
Figure 2: Sense of style, by gender, February 2016
Teens are digital natives
Figure 3: Attitudes and behaviors regarding online life– Any agree, October 2014-December 2015
The opportunities
Create reasons for teens to shop
Figure 4: Reasons for clothes shopping, February 2016
Consider the importance of advertising and celebrity influence
Figure 5: Influencers, by gender, February 2016
Offer personalized, high-touch experiences
Figure 6: Interest in retail innovations, February 2016
What it means

The Market – What You Need to Know

Teen population continues to diversify
Obesity lingers as a major issue facing today’s youth
Teens have significant spending power
Teens are digital natives

Market Factors

Teen share shrinking
Figure 7: Teen population, by gender, 2011-21
A diverse portrait
Figure 8: Teen population, by race and hispanic origin, 2011-21
More than one third of teens are overweight or obese
One in three teens live in single-parent homes
Figure 9: Household relationship and living arrangements of teens, 2013
Teens have money
Figure 10: What teens spend their money on, by gender, April 2013-June 2014
Vying for their attention
Teens have grown up online; interested in technology over apparel
Mall traffic is waning

Key Players – What You Need to Know

Teen fashion segment on the whole is struggling
Fast fashion and athleisurewear fit teens’ budgets and style preferences
Once a customer, always a customer?
Teens want stores to match their tech savviness

What’s Working?

Nike dominates
Figure 11: Correspondence analysis – Favorite brands, by gender, February 2016
Fast fashion retailers and those selling activewear outperforming others
Fast fashion
Specialty stores

What’s Struggling?

Many retailers becoming irrelevant as teens focus more on experiences instead of apparel
On the whole, accessories are down
Figure 12: Accessories bought in last 12 months, October 2010-December 2015

What’s Next?

Technology advancements bring an element of fun to the shopping experience
Virtual reality technology (VR)
3-D printing
Figure 13: MakerBot Replicator desktop 3D Printer and Iris Van Herpen top made of 3-D printed material featured at National Retail Federation’s Big Show, New York City, January 2016
Smart dressing rooms and magic mirrors
Never too young to learn about fashion

The Consumer – What You Need to Know

Most teens describe their style as casual and simple
Stocking up for school is primary reason for clothing purchases
Desire for the sensorial drives in-store shopping
Celebrities – particularly social media starlets – have huge appeal
Teens want to create their own looks and seek brands that enable this

Sense of Style

Most teens are laid back about fashion
Figure 14: Sense of style, February 2016
Figure 15: Self-descriptions about style, October 2014-December 2015
Both boys and girls claim to be on trend
Figure 16: Sense of style, by gender, February 2016
Figure 17: Opinions toward style – Any agree, by gender, October 2014-December 2015
Figure 18: Sense of style, by favorite brands, February 2016
Teens’ surroundings can impact their views toward style
Figure 19: Sense of style, by census region and area, February 2016

Reasons for Clothes Shopping

In with the new, out with the old
Figure 20: Reasons for clothes shopping, February 2016
One in five teens see apparel as a reward
Figure 21: Select reasons for clothes shopping, by gender and age, February 2016
Teens feel pressured to look good
Figure 22: Reasons for clothes shopping, by reasons for using beauty or personal care products, February 2016

Method of Shopping

Teens prefer in-store shopping for sensorial experiences
Figure 23: Method of shopping, February 2016
Hispanics more likely to shop online
Figure 24: Method of shopping, by select demographics, February 2016
Mobile devices are a lifeline
Figure 25: Attitudes toward cell phone/smartphone – Any agree, October 2014-December 2015
Figure 26: Attitudes and behaviors regarding online life – Any agree, October 2014-December 2015


Teens are paying attention to the ads
Figure 27: Influencers, February 2016
Teens want to laugh, hear new music, and see their favorite celebs in ads
Figure 28: Teens’ commercial preferences, by age, February 2016
Celebrity influencers should not be ignored
Figure 29: Influencers, by interest in spokespeople for beauty or personal care products, February 2016
Figure 30: Favored celebrities among iGeneration, February 2016
Social media is an enabler for creating, sharing, and bonding with friends
Instagram is a powerhouse
YouTube boasts relatability
Figure 31: Bethany Mota’s YouTube channel, April 2016
Figure 32: Aspyn Ovard’s YouTube channel, Fashion section, April 2016
Figure 33: Meg DeAngelis’ YouTube channel, April 2016
Snapchat is hugely popular
Figure 34: Visits social media websites daily, by gender, February 2016
Fashion brands use teens to reach other teens

Interest in Retail Innovations

Experiences over possessions; FOMO can elevate intrigue
Figure 35: Interest in retail innovations about experience, February 2016
Experiences “for me”
Figure 36: Interest in retail innovations about personalization, February 2016
Boys want simplicity and guidance; girls want VIP treatment
Figure 37: Interest in retail innovations, by gender and age, February 2016

Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

Data sources
Consumer survey data
Methodology for correspondence analysis
Abbreviations and terms

Appendix – Market

Figure 38: Percentage of overweight or obese teens 12-19, by gender, age, and race and Hispanic origin, 2011-12
Figure 39: Source of teen income, January-December 2014
Figure 40: Labor-force status of people aged 16 to 19, annual averages, 2005-15
Figure 41: Attitudes toward finance – Any agree, by gender and age, April 2013-June 2014
Figure 42: Who pays for clothing, by gender and age, October 2014-December 2015
Figure 43: Top 15 activities done on weekdays, by age and gender, January-December 2014

Appendix – Consumer

Figure 44: Girls’ items bought in last 12 months, October 2014-December 2015
Figure 45: Guys’ items bought in last 12 months, October 2014-December 2015
Figure 46: Accessories bought in last 12 months, October 2010- December 2015
Figure 47: Stores shopped in last three months, by gender, October 2014-December 2015
Figure 48: Footwear brands purchased in last 12 months, by gender, October 2014-December 2015
Figure 49: Who teens go clothes shopping with, by gender, October 2014-December 2015
Figure 50: Decision making regarding clothing choices, by gender, October 2014-December 2015
Figure 51: Attitudes toward social sharing websites, October 2014-December 2015

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