Teens Sport Affluent Lifestyles

Jul 23, 2002

Experts say today’s teens are the most affluent generation of young people to date, reports the Detroit Free Press. According to Chicago-based Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU), teens have three main sources of income: parents, gifts and jobs, many paying well above minimum wage.

On average, kids “earn about their age in weekly allowance. But that doesn’t really cover much,” says Jennifer Park, a Northwood, Ohio-based teen market researcher with NFO WorldGroup. To pay for the high costs of being a teen, many teens make a habit out of asking their parents for cash in addition to weekly allowances. And many parents, especially those feeling guilty about the many hours they work, have a hard time saying no. Friends and relatives slip money into envelopes for kids’ birthdays, holidays, graduations, first communions, and bar and bat mitzvahs. Aside from getting money from parents and gifts, many teens are also working.

According to federal data, 51 percent of U.S. teens ages 16-19 were working last year. A TRU poll of teens found 30 percent earn money from part-time jobs, 28 percent from odd jobs such as baby-sitting and mowing lawns, and six percent from full-time jobs.

Last year, despite the economic recession, teens spent $172 billion, up from $122 billion five years ago, according to TRU. Even tomorrow’s teens, kids four to 12, are big spenders. In 2001, the group spent $40 billion compared with $17.1 billion in 1994, according to the Center for a New American Dream, a Takoma Park, Md.-based nonprofit that encourages consumer responsibility. “Teens have the most disposable money they’ll have for years to come because somebody else is providing all of the basics,” says Marian Salzman, chief strategic officer for New York ad agency Euro RSCG Worldwide. “Their high school years are their years of real affluence.”

Moderator Comment: Will today’s teenagers maintain their shopping attitudes and behaviors as they age? What does this mean for retailers and product marketers?

According to, “How America Shops 2002” from WSL
Strategic Retail,
younger men are making nearly
as many shopping trips to roughly the same number of stores as their female

WSL maintains that “young men are the new generation
of untapped shoppers.” Here are two parts of the rationale that WSL uses to
support this position.

  1. Teenagers
    are growing -up in households with both parents working. As a result, many
    of them have been given shopping chores such as buying their own clothes,
    doing grocery shopping, etc.

  2. Men in the U.S. spend more years shopping solo because
    they are getting married later in life. Shopping behaviors, established while
    single, continue after men enter co-habitation relationships.

Anderson – Moderator

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

Be the First to Comment!