What Are Youths’ Biggest Clothing Style and Brand Decision Influencers?

July 30, 2014

ForestCityAlexanderBabbage-Kids-Clothing-Brand-Influencers-July2014Clothing is one of teens’ top spending categories, per recent research from Piper Jaffray – but what influences their style and brand decisions when it comes to clothing and accessories? A recent survey commissioned by Forest City and conducted by Alexander Babbage offers some insight into the top influencers among teens (13-17) and young adults (18-24), with both predictable and surprising results. Indeed, while word-of-mouth proves paramount, one traditional marketing tactic also nets kids’ attention. That would be in-store displays, second only to friends’ opinions as a top purchase influencer.

The survey asked its young respondents to consider the brands they prefer for apparel and accessories, following that by asking them how they make decisions on the styles and brands they choose for themselves. With an assortment of options to choose from, respondents (who were allowed multiple selections) pointed first to displays in stores (46.2%) and opinions of friends (45.2%), followed by social media (35.1%), magazines (30.8%) and celebrity styles (27.5%).

When asked which of the options has the greatest influence on their decisions, though, opinions of friends rose to the top (20.7%), ahead of displays in stores (14.9%), social media (7.5%), celebrity styles (6.5%), and (somewhat surprisingly), parents (4.9%).

The prominence of in-store displays is surprising, but perhaps only in the context of a relative dearth of research or coverage of the topic as it pertains to young shoppers. Even so, studies have found that Millennials are more highly influenced than the typical adult by in-store displays when making CPG brand decisions (with this seemingly being the case for quite some time). In tandem with the Forest City research, the studies suggest that in-store tactics can have quite an impact on young shoppers’ decisions.

Besides in-store displays, the influence of celebrity styles on young shoppers is also interesting, given an array of recent research suggesting that celebrities don’t wield a great deal of influence over consumers.

The survey also revealed some other interesting tidbits regarding young shoppers’ attitudes:

  • Shopping is a favorite activity for 46% of teens and young adults;
  • Some 71% of monthly expenditures by 13-17-year-olds and 69% by 18-24-year-olds are made in physical stores, with this supported by research from the NPD Group indicating that 81% of Millennials’ (13-33) retail spending occurs in brick-and-mortar stores;
  • Close to two-thirds of teens and young adults said the ability to personalize their clothes, shoes and accessories had a positive impact on their overall shopping experience, an interesting result in light of the Piper Jaffray survey results showing that “individuality and ‘different’ are the new cool” among teens;
  • Young adults reported that using a mobile device is their least preferred way to shop, with this in line with the typical online shopper’s preferences; and
  • Email is the preferred medium for communication of fashion, brand and retail information.

For details about the advertising channels that most influence adults’ purchase decisions, see MarketingCharts’ recent Debrief on the topic.

About the Data: The research was commissioned by Forest City (www.forestcity.net) and conducted by Alexander Babbage (www.alexanderbabbage.com) as part of an on-going research program into retail and shopping center behaviors. A nation-wide survey of 1,011 13-24 year-olds (13-17 = 31.4%; 18-24 = 68.6%) was conducted using an opted-in online panel. The sample was geographically balanced to reflect the U.S. population. Interviewing Dates: April 8-13, 2014. Margin of Error at the 95% confidence interval: +/-3.1%.

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