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Teen spending.

TEEN Spending!

Teenagers. From time immemorial they have been a puzzle to their parents, an enigma to their teachers and a challenge to the status quo. Marketers can be forgiven for having ignored them much of the time. Marketers are not ignoring them anymore, however. They can't afford to. If they did they would be ignoring a consumer group with some $70 billion in discretionary spending power. What's more, teenagers control an additional $33 billion in funds allotted for family food shopping. Even in areas in which teens do not do the actual spending, they exert a higher level of influence over household purchasing decisions than ever before.

The nation's premier research organizations have focused their resources in the teenage market recently. From Rand to Roper to Gallup and more, they are all trying to do what befuddled parents have said for generations could not be done: understand teenagers. Whether they have truly succeeded will be debated for years. In the course of their efforts, however, they have turned up incontrovertible evidence underscoring the importance of the teenage market to retailers and manufacturers alike.

From the second half of the 1970s through this year the teenage population in the U.S. has declined. It peaked at 29.7 million in 1975, according to the Census Bureau, and fell by about 112,000 the following year. That trend accelerated through 1981, when the falloff peaked at 767,000.

The teenage population will fall by 227,000 to total 22.5 million in 1991. But from 1992 through the end of the decade the ranks of teenage consumers - reflecting the impact of the so-called echo baby boom - will swell by an average of over 380,000 per year, hitting 26 million by 2000.

The numbers alone make this an important market for retailers and manufacturers, but the trends behind the demographics are even more compelling. The most telling one is this: even while their absolute numbers were declining through the 1970s and 1980s, their total purchasing power and influence over household buying decisions increased tremendously. Now that their numbers are about to begin rising again, teenagers stand poised as one of the most crucial markets of the 1990s.

PHOTO : Teen's Weekly Spending

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Title Annotation:What's Hot in the Teenage Market - Special Advertising Section; includes articles on teen buying patterns
Publication:Chain Drug Review
Date:Apr 8, 1991
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