How Do US Teens Hear About New Brands?

March 17, 2016

Ebates-How-Teens-Adults-Hear-About-New-Brands-Mar2016Word-of-mouth (62%) edges TV ads (61%) and online ads (61%) as the leading way by which teens hear about new brands, according to a new retail-oriented survey from Ebates. The results indicate that while physical stores (58%) are among the leading methods of brand awareness for teens, social media also has a significant role to play.

Indeed, about half (49%) of teens respondents to the survey reported having heard about a new brand from Instagram, with this platform considerably ahead of both Facebook (37%) and Twitter (30%). While the study did not net the results for social media as an overall medium, the sizable proportions for each specific platform suggest that social media in the aggregate would be one of the leading brand discovery vehicles for teens. It’s worth noting that two-thirds of the respondents are female, which may influence the results, as women are consistently ahead of men in social media adoption.

(Newspapers and radio were not offered as options in the survey, though another traditional medium – magazines – failed to garner a large share of teen respondents.)

Not surprisingly, teens’ responses differed markedly from those of adult respondents in some areas. For adults, TV ads (70%) emerged as the top vehicle for new brand discovery, ahead of word-of-mouth. That’s an interesting result in light of research suggesting that global consumers are more likely to learn of new products via word-of-mouth than TV ads. Additionally, MarketingCharts research into perceived ad effectiveness indicates that word-of-mouth influences purchases for more American adults than TV ads.

Returning to the Ebates survey, Instagram (a favorite among teens) is less of a new brand discovery vehicle for adults (25%) than teens (49%), though adults (47%) are more likely than teens (37%) to hear about new brands through Facebook. As one might expect given their audience composition, magazines are more likely to be a source of new brand discovery for adults (45%) than teens (29%).

In other results from the survey, the advent of school (47%) is the top shopping motivator for teens, ahead of the change of the seasons (40%) and a desire to gain confidence (37%). When it comes to retail therapy, teens are most likely to buy clothes, shoes and accessories (73%), with fewer seeking out entertainment (52%) and tech/electronics (45%) purchases. These are also the top three purchase categories that teens say make them the happiest, though entertainment and electronics swap places on this measure.

For adults, the change of the seasons (45%) is the top shopping motivator, with advertising (39%) a somewhat surprising second. As pertains to retail therapy, clothes/shoes/accessories (73%) are again the leading purchase, followed by entertainment (53%) and tech/electronics (40%). But when it comes to the purchases that make adults feel the happiest, travel (40%) sneaks into the top 3, behind entertainment (42%) and clothes/shoes/accessories (56%).

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 501 US teens (13-17; 67% female) and 1,084 adults (18+; 67% female).


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