Tech trumps fashion with British Teens

The Latest Insights from Kantar Media's Youth TGI Survey shed light on the changing spending habits of 15-19 year olds in Great Britain. 

This past year has been a rollercoaster for the UK high street. While some stores have gone into administration others flourished, especially during the Christmas season. Shops particularly popular with young adults like Abercrombie & Fitch, however, continued to post losses as its teenage clientele become more careful with their spending money, choosing to invest in technology over expensive trendy clothing. The latest insights from Kantar Media's Youth TGI survey shed light on the changing spending habits of 15-19 year olds in Great Britain.

According to Youth TGI, the majority of 15-19 year olds use their own money to buy clothing; 64% of them do so. Currently, teens spend an average of £83.50 a year of their own money on clothing, a decrease of £15.40 since 2007. When teens do buy clothes however, they are heading online rather than to the high street to do so. This group is nearly twice as likely as the average 11-19 year old to shop for clothes online when spending their own money.

When looking at brands of clothes that teenagers are buying, they are more than twice as likely as the average teen to own clothing from ASOS, one of the most popular online retailers in Great Britain. ASOS sales climbed 38% to £335.7m in Q4, 2013, with UK sales rising 37% to £133.7m. Teenagers that are shopping on the high street, however, own clothes from the cheaper high street outlets. 42% of 15-19 year olds own clothing from Primark, while 33% and 30% own clothes from New Look and H&M respectively.

One reason for this lack of investment in clothing may be that teens are looking elsewhere to spend their money, namely in the technology markets. 97% of 15-19 year olds own a mobile phone and are 40% more likely than the average 11-19 year old to own an Apple iPhone. 31% of this age range also owns a tablet. They could see investment in technology as more bang for their buck with fashion trends so fleeting. While the devices may be paid for by their parents or given to them as gifts, teens are actively buying extras, such as apps, for these devices. According to the GB TGI survey, 15-19 year olds are more than nine times as likely as the average adult to have their phone bill paid by their parents. On Youth TGI, however, is 79% more likely than the average 11-19 year old to pay for apps on their mobiles and are 47% more likely to pay for apps on their tablet using their own money.

The other technology area that teenagers dominate is computer games. 90% of 15-19 year olds in Great Britain play computer games. Almost half of these gamers, however, pay for their games out of their own money. 15-19 year olds are 47% more likely than the average youth to pay for computer games with their own money. This change in teenage consumer habits may stem from an intrinsic shift in attitudes about money and value. Facing a difficult economic outlook and bleak job prospects, teens seem to be becoming more careful with their cash flow. Fifteen to nineteen year olds are 32% more likely than the average youth to be very worried about money. Unemployment in the future is also a constant issue for teenagers.

Since 2005, there has been a 14% overall increase in the number of 15-19 year olds worried about youth unemployment. The trend of spending money now and worrying later has also changed in teenagers' mindsets. While 43% spend money without thinking, 63% prefer to save their money. From 2005 to 2013 there was a 17 percentage point increase in teenagers preferring to save money rather than spend it. For marketers looking to target this niche audience, the sure fire way is to catch them online. 15-19 year olds are amongst the highest fifth of youth Internet consumers. They spend an average of 30.1 hours per week online per week favouring social networking sites like Facebook and Youtube with 87% and 85% of these teens respectively active on them.

We could go further still with Kantar Media's Ad-Vantage initiative, generating the exact cookies for reaching this target online.

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