Teens’ evolving brand preferences: TikTok displaces Instagram and Shein beats out Nike

Dive Brief:

  • Teens’ brand preferences have changed in recent months, with TikTok now the group’s second favorite social media platform, displacing Instagram to third place, according to Piper Sandler’s latest “Taking Stock of Teens” semi-annual report, which was emailed to Marketing Dive. The survey conducted between Aug. 19 and Sept. 22 also shows that Snapchat retains its spot as most favored platform while Instagram continues to be the most-used platform.
  • Teens continue to spend more time shopping online compared to other channels, although their self-reported overall spending hit an all-time low of $2,150, a drop of 5% since the spring and down 9% over the fall period last year.
  • Amazon is the preferred e-commerce site for more than half of teens. Shein landed in second place for the first time and ahead of Nike in third place, although the brand retains its spot as the most preferred apparel brand. Shein also topped the list of brands teens said are “starting to be worn.”

Dive Insight:

Piper Sandler’s report is a closely watched barometer of teens’ consumer behavior, with its latest edition underscoring some ways a tumultuous 2020 has impacted the group’s shopping habits and brand preferences. As the pandemic has swiped teens’ opportunities for group socialization, food (particularly restaurants) and concerts/events lost ground for teens’ share of wallet. Meanwhile, video games and home/room accessories increased share, reflecting pandemic-related behaviors that are keeping many teens indoors and separated.

While teens continued to cut back on spending this summer and fall, the survey also shows that some new brand favorites are emerging, such as TikTok, which continues to play an outsize role in popular culture with entertaining musical videos, and Shein, a low-priced women’s fashion e-commerce site.

There are other signs that teens are being more cautious with their spending, including their interest in secondhand, which was introduced as a new channel in this fall’s survey and captured 8% of teens’ channel preference. And, with little reason to dress up and head out, spending on products such as cosmetics and apparel declined 20% and 11%, respectively, since last fall.

Among apparel brands, athletic brands continued to dominate preferences. In addition to Nike reigning supreme for the tenth year in a row, Lululemon moved into the No. 6 position, up from 7 last fall. Adidas remained No. 3 (behind American Eagle), followed by PacSun.

While teens are spending more time at home, streamed entertainment remains popular. Netflix accounts for 34% of their daily video consumption, and YouTube accounts for 32% (up from 31% in the spring). Traditional cable TV remained the number 3 choice, but time allocation dropped to 9% to 11% since the spring.

Despite teens’ reducing spending and poor economic outlook, video games remain a bright spot. Video games represented 10% of teens’ wallet share, a survey high. In addition, 57% of teens said they were spending more time playing video games in 2020 versus 2019, and the number of people who said they’re playing daily increased 5% since the spring. In addition to playing more and spending more this fall, 63% of teens say they intend to purchase one of the next-generation consoles this fall.

Apple remains a top technology brand for teens. Eighty-six percent of teens own an iPhone (and 89% say they intend to purchase an iPhone as their next device). A quarter of teens own an Apple Watch.

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