Targeting the Next Big Consumer – Teens

Author: Annette Malave, SVP/Insights, RAB

An online search for Gen Z will deliver results in the billions regarding various topics and industries. If you are wondering why, it is because they are about to become the largest and most important consumer target. They may also be the most complex.

Teens (12-19-year-olds) fall within the Generation Z demo. This generation is the most diverse, technologically savvy and socially aware compared to any other generations. They are also employed.

According to an August report from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for teenagers has been low for a third straight month – at 9.6%. The last time the rate was lower than that was November 1953. Teens are working consumers advertisers need to reach.

Teens spend close to $2,200 annually, according to the most recent Piper Sandler survey release. Food is where they spend the most of their money – grabbing 23% of the dollars.

When targeting teens, it’s important to not place them all in the same bucket. Seventy-eight percent of 12-19-year-olds do not like stereotypes and believe that “everyone is their own person.” It is an important consideration when targeting this consumer segment and recognizing what matters to them will help brand consideration.

Thirty-seven percent of teens prefer to buy natural products because they are concerned about the environment and 44% are willing to pay more for a product that is environmentally friendly. Like their older cohorts, over a third of them believe that brands they purchase should support social causes, according to the 2020 TeenMark study from MRI-Simmons.

Despite many misperceptions about teens, the greatest misperception is that radio doesn’t play a role in their lives. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Radio reaches 17.8 million teens every week (71%), according to the Nielsen’s RADAR.

The 2020 TeenMark study also disputes many other teen myths as it pertains to AM/FM radio. Forty percent attribute broadcast radio as how they find out about new music. Broadcast radio also connects with them emotionally.

Of the teens included with the MRI-Simmons study, AM/FM radio:

  • Relaxes them (31%)
  • Puts them in a good mood (36%)
  • Is pure entertainment (27%)
  • Keeps them informed/up to date (24%)
  • Is a good escape (21%)

As the next generation enters the workforce full time and their buying power increases, advertisers will need to adjust their messaging so that it connects emotionally with this consumer group. Since the brands they consider and purchase will need to be “socially aware” and connect to them emotionally, the media they use will have great influence. Teens tune into broadcast radio now and it already provides them with emotional benefits. Including AM/FM radio now in media plans that influence this generation will no doubt deliver benefits to brands in the futures.


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