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Review: Teens Taking On More Family Shopping

Rickard, L. (1994, September 12). Teens Taking on More Family Shopping.Advertising Age, p. 44.


(Download Teens Family Shopping overview as a PDF)

A growing number of teenagers are assuming family shopping responsibilities. According to Simmons Market Research Bureau, 27% of teens do major food shopping in an average month. A primary reason for this demographic shift in shoppers is the increasing number of dual-income families and non-traditional households. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that, in 1991, half of the nation’s children were living in a situation other than the “traditional nuclear family.” Under these circumstances, teens are expected to take on more household responsibilities.

Manufacturers recognize that teenagers are becoming an increasingly significant purchasing group. Teens spend approximately $95 billion a year. One third of the 30 million teen market is employed, and 55% of those 16 and older earn $75 or more per week. In an in-home survey of more than 2,800 12-to-19-year-olds conducted between February and May, it was revealed that teen buyers shop for items such as jeans, shoes, and groceries.

Thirty-four percent of girls and 16% of boys report that they enjoy shopping. Also, 60% of girls enjoy shopping for clothes. Only 29% of boys claimed the same.

Joan Chiaramonte, senior VP-Syndicated Studies at Simmons, says that it is important for marketers to realize that most trends start with teens and branch out. She cites the example of the hiking boot craze, which started in the teen market and spread to the adult and children’s market. She says that “teens are optimistic and well-educated buyers.” When asked, 33% of teens shoppers said they were careful about how they spend their money and 28% said they look for the lowest prices possible. On the other hand, 25% of teens report impulse buying.

Teens tend to be brand-loyal: 20% always look for the marketer’s name and 30% stick with the brand they like. They look at advertising favorably, saying that it helps them know what is available.

Questions for Reflections and Discussion

  1. What prompts you to buy? Do you respond to advertising or do you shop on impulse?
  2. What do you think about teens taking on more family responsibilities? At what age do you think a young person should be expected to take on household duties?


  • Teens are often the main influence in family purchasing decisions, and they can dictate certain fads and fashions. As a result, they will continue to be studied and targeted by merchandisers.
  • The teen market is becoming increasingly lucrative for advertisers. Teens may not be as savvy or experienced in identifying and/or resisting certain sales and marketing tactics. Parents, teachers, and youth workers can help prepare teens for the barrage of marketing that will be directed toward them.
  • The household responsibilities being placed on young people are increasing. This shift in duties needs to be accompanied by support and feedback from parents.

Sheila Walsh
© 2018 CYS

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