Teens Both Fickle about and Obsessed with Brands

June 18, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Brand Metrics | Magazines | Men | Television | Women | Youth & Gen X

Teens love brands – 46% say they are loyal to the brands they really like – but more than half say brands “are created by marketers just to get more money,” according to a Teen + Brands study by Viacom’s The N channel, reports BrandWeek.

The study tested 47 brands, finding that Apple’s iPod is the brand “absolutely essential to teens.” Other brands that define the current teen generation include American Eagle Outfitters, Axe, Baby Phat, Facebook, Google, Hollister Co., MTV, MySpace, Vans and YouTube.

When it comes to brands, teens are apparently polarized or have multiple personalities – or both: a third agreed with the statement, “If there were no brands, the world would be better,” but nearly the same proportion – 29% – said “having cool brands makes me feel cool” and that they are “obsessed with brand names.”

Moreover, often, those claiming to be the most loyal nevertheless say they would abandon one brand for another: 19% would do so due to boredom; on in four would switch if a brand were to become too popular.

Other findings from the teen study:

  • Half of teen boys said the brand of soda matters, with Coca-Cola the most popular, compared with 41% of girls saying the brand matters.
  • Some 47% of boys said fast food brands matter, compared with 39% of girls.
  • TV and magazine advertising were cited as the most influential forms of media, noted by 32% and 28% of respondents, respectively.
  • Brand names are most important in relation to computers (64%), shoes (56%), MP3 players (55%), cell phone service (54%) and clothes (53%).
  • 40% said the word “chill” best describes them.
  • Music most defines them, 44% of teens said.

Interestingly, the new generation of teens tends to be family-oriented: Some 39% said their family defines them, and 38% said moral values do so.

“The millennials relationship with the parent is completely different. There is no angst. [Parents] can be a best friend,” Radha Subramanyam, VP of research and planning for MTV Networks kids and family group, is quoted as saying.

Although brands focus on influential teens, “parents can be the biggest influencer, especially when it comes to big-ticket items,” she said.

The N study was conducted in conjunction with Open Mind Research, New York, and OTX Research, Los Angeles. It was based on interviews with 1,000-plus kids 13-19 online, via cell phones and in focus groups in March.


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