During a recession, there is usually one group that can be counted on to keep spending…Teens!

Necessities are often coming out of the parent’s pockets, leaving teens to spend their hard earned money from after school jobs, summer internships and birthday savings on themselves. Despite the recession, teens want to look good and they are going to spend their savings to make sure they look their best. 75% of teens are receiving the same or more spending money this year than they were last year. 40% of teens say they have "not been affected" by the recession. (1)

Teens want to look good regardless of what is going on with the economy and are therefore willing to sacrifice entertainment for apparel. 75% would choose a new pair of shoes over 50 new MP3 downloads, and 63% would choose a new pair of jeans over tickets to a concert. According to one study, nearly three-quarters are spending the same or more this year on cosmetics (70%), clothing (72%), hair products (71%) or skin care (74%). (1)

Now we aren’t saying that teens are completely oblivious to what is going on in the US, but it isn’t affecting their desire to shop. They are not shopping less, but are shopping smarter. Fifty-five percent of teens surveyed said they are waiting for things to go on sale prior to purchase; 50% said they are making fewer impulse purchase; 42% said they are doing more comparison shopping. Thirty-five percent said they are staying with their favorite brands and 31% of survey respondents said they are shopping at less expensive stores (1).

So, now that we know they are still shopping, how do we reach them? Teens live online, they buy online and they play online, so naturally the best place to reach them is online! 94% of teens are currently online (2) and they spend an average of 11.5 hours in front of the computer weekly! More than 70% of online teens actively use social networking sites (3). 16 million teens (nearly two-thirds of the population) own a mobile phone. Over one quarter of teen mobile phone owners (28%) access the Internet via their phone, compared with 17% of all mobile subscribers (4).

Talk to teens on their level and speak their language. Everything you do should be with your core audience in mind. Find the right message for your audience and use targeted placements to reach them. Create a buzz…using ads and promotions that leverage the viral capabilities of the Web are fabulous for reaching teens. Lastly, offer incentives such as “buy three, get one free” or free shipping to get their attention. Retailers such as American Eagle and Old Navy have been running ad copy with value messages like “Buy One, Get One 50% Off” and “Find Secret InStore Coupons at OldNavyWeekly.com” respectively. Regardless of age, everyone loves to feel like they’ve gotten a good deal.

1. Online Teen survey from Seventeen Magazine, April 2009
2. Pew Internet and American Life Project, Teens and the Internet, January 9, 2009
3. Research from OTX and Intelligence Group Looks at Teens’ Online Behavior, June 2008
4. Multimedia Intelligence; Harris Interactive/CTIA – the Wireless Association; Nielsen Mobile