Teen Girls as Avid Shoppers

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Don’t blame teenage girls for the sluggishness of consumer spending. In a survey just released by Varsity Brands (which sells cheerleading apparel) and Ketchum Global Research Network, girls age 13-18 identified shopping as their favorite pastime. And the list of purchases they’ve recently made confirms this isn’t just talk. But other parts of the survey may leave you wondering how the girls’ immersion in new media leaves them with time to buy things.

Conducted online in July, the poll found 41 percent of girls saying they bought 10 or more items of clothing in the past six months, with another 21 percent having bought five to nine such items. Forty percent bought at least five items of online music or CDs during that period, and 31 percent bought that many makeup/cosmetics items. Evidently the 80 percent who identified shopping as one of their “hobbies and activities” weren’t kidding. (Reading, of all things, was the runner-up, cited by 70 percent.)

As if all this weren’t enough to endear them to marketers, teen girls also spread the word about the products that interest them. Seventy-nine percent said they recommended or told a friend/family member about an article of clothing in the past six months. Majorities also told friends/family about books or magazines (72 percent), makeup/cosmetics/skin-care items (66 percent) or mobile electronics (60 percent).

Moreover, 53 percent “believe their opinions greatly influence their friends’ purchase decisions.” And while spouting their own views, the girls are on full alert for information and advice from other sources about “the latest trends” — particularly from their friends (see the first chart).

Although new media are crucial to this flow of information, teen girls are more discriminating than you might expect in their use of online social media. True to stereotype, a large majority (74 percent) use Facebook at least once a day on average, including 61 percent who use it multiple times per day. YouTube is also a substantial presence, with 41 percent using it daily (including 25 percent using it multiple times). Twitter has made scant inroads, however: 67 percent “never” use it, while just 8 percent use it multiple times per day. Nor do blogs have a big following in this cohort: 66 percent said they never use them, vs. 6 percent using them multiple times per day.

Overall, though, the study confirms conventional wisdom that teen girls “consume media at an incredible clip,” a phenomenon illustrated by the second chart. No wonder parents find it a constant struggle to get them to finish their homework and go to bed at a decent hour.