How to Market to Teens in Your Retail Business



10 Tips on Marketing to Teens in Your Retail Business

Are you actively marketing to teens as retail customers? If not, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity. Between allowance and earnings, Barkley estimates teenagers spend as much as $143 billion of their own money (not counting all the money their parents spend on them). The majority of that spending takes place in brick-and-mortar-stores: 67% of teens prefer to buy in a store rather than shop online, probably because they’re less likely to have credit cards than adults. However, teens are also avid online buyers, so whether you are a physical store, a retail website or both, this is a market you shouldn’t be ignoring.

Still not convinced? Consider this: by 2020, Generation Z (those born after 2000) will represent 40% of all consumers. Attract these teenagers today, and you could turn them into loyal customers tomorrow.

10 Tips on Marketing to Teens

Here are 10 ways to market to teens in your retail business.

  1. Connect with them on social media. A whopping 95% of teens have smartphones, according to Pew, and 45% are online “almost constantly.” The most popular social media platforms for teens are YouTube (85%), Instagram (72%) and Snapchat (68%). Teens look to social media influencers, especially on YouTube, to find out what products are worth their money: 19% have tried a new product based on an influencer’s opinion. Teens also rely on their friends’ opinions, crowdsourced from social media. If you get positive feedback and posts from teens praising your retail business, be sure to thank them and engage.
  2. Build a strong presence on YouTube. If your retail business doesn’t have a presence on YouTube, what are you waiting for? YouTube is teens’ favorite way to spend time. More than seven in 10 teens spend three hours a day or more watching videos online. Use YouTube videos to show teens what’s new in your store, demonstrate products, or make them feel part of your store. For instance, you could show them how to style outfits with products from your inventory, demonstrate a new video game you’re carrying, or show your staff being silly behind the scenes.
  3. Celebrate their uniqueness. Teens value retailers that appreciate their individuality, listen to their opinions and take their ideas into account. In fact, 44% of teens want to have a say in designing products. Think of ways you can customize products for teenage customers or sell products that allow them to express their individuality. Ask for their suggestions and act on them. Getting feedback from teens on social media is a great way to not only get new ideas, but also build relationships with them. Another way to help teens feel “special”? Regularly rotate new brands into your retail business—Think With Google reports teens love discovering new brands that are still “under the radar.”
  4. Make it easy for them to pay. Keep in mind most teens are too young for credit cards. However, they do have other payment choices aside from cash. For example, fully 35% use their phones to pay in stores. This generation will respond to updated point-of-sale systems that provide a wide variety of options. Use mobile devices in-store to take payments on the sales floor so teenage shoppers don’t have to wait in line. Consider implementing cashierless payments or self-service checkout.
  5. Be outstanding at the retail basics. While cool tools like virtual reality try-on rooms may make headlines, in reality, studies have found, teens care more about the essentials of the shopping experience. For example, two-thirds say it’s important for retailers to always have the products they want in stock, while 58% want pickup or delivery options. If your business has an e-commerce component, allow for online purchases and in-store pickup. Also make it easy to exchange or return products, redeem coupons or cash in rewards. If teens have to jump through too many hoops to do business with you, they’ll get bored.
  6. Offer value. Some 65% of teens say discounts, coupons and loyalty rewards are an important factor in where they shop, the National Retail Federation reports. Sales, discounts and rewards help teens make the most of their spending money. You can also capitalize on teenagers’ relatively smaller budgets by stocking a wide selection of lower-priced items and impulse buys along with your primary inventory. For example, if you sell clothing for teenage girls, you can also sell cosmetics, nail polish, stickers and other trinkets that appeal to teens. According to the semi-annual Piper Jaffray teen survey, teens’ number-one spending priority is food, so stocking snacks and candy near your checkout line can reap extra profits.
  7. Protect their personal data. 62% of teen shoppers are willing to share personal data with retailers in exchange for discounts and rewards, according to the National Retail Federation. However, they expect their data to be protected. Be transparent about what you do with their information and how you safeguard it. Make it easy for teens to update or change the information they allow you to access.
  8. Use technology to enhance the shopping experience. Some 57% of teens research products on a mobile device before they buy, according to the National Retail Federation. Free Wi-Fi in your store is essential for teen shoppers—not just so they can research, but also so they can share on social media and get opinions from friends before they buy. However, teens value technology for its practical value, not just its “wow” factor, so make sure the tech tools you implement actually work. That virtual reality dressing room app will backfire if it glitches when teens try it, and they’ll spread the word on social media.
  9. Make your store a social experience IRL. Teens love to go shopping in groups; it’s a major social activity for them. Play to their love of socializing by hiring engaging, energetic sales clerks; creating an environment where groups of teens can shop together (such as dressing room areas with room for friends to gather); setting up backgrounds to take selfies while trying on outfits and encouraging teen shoppers to share their status and photos on social media with your store’s hashtags.
  10. Add entertainment value. The National Retail Federation says 56% of teen shoppers consider a fun in-store experience important. Make your store more than just a place to conduct transactions. Play teen-friendly music in the background, or host in-store performances by local musicians. Promote events relevant to your business, like an in-store fashion show for a clothing store, Makeover Day for a cosmetics store or salon, or a gaming contest for a video game retailer.

Teens become more loyal to businesses and brands as they get older, the National Retail Federation reports. So, while this generation may be fickle shoppers now, winning their allegiance to your store today could reap dividends in the future.

Teens Shopping Photo via Shutterstock

4 Comments ▼

Rieva Lesonsky


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow her on Google+ and visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

4 Reactions

  1. Aira Bongco

    You really must market on social platforms. Teens are on them 24/7 until their eyes can make it. Also, teens want to buy from a place that’s unique. Whether it is a unique piece of clothing or a unique experience, they’ll be more willing to buy it if it will be interesting or unique.

  2. Instagram is a great place to be for the teens of today, but keep an eye on Snapchat too. And as these teens “grow up” the new crop of teens will probably take us some new sharing app that you’ll need to keep you’re eye out for.

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