With “mall rat” officially part of the Canadian vernacular, it’s not surprising that shopping malls top the list of where both female and male Teens hang out and shop. Teens also shop in numerous other venues, including discount stores, convenience stores, grocery stores, and more. But as per this observation paper I elected to head to the renowned Fairview mall to see what I can find in teen shopping habits and trends and how they vary between genders. I think that as the age goes up, so does the percentage of Teens who shop in malls.
With seventeen million strong, the Teen market is a force to be reckoned with here in Canada. Teens are active consumers in terms of the money they spend, as well as in the influence they wield in their families and on societal trends. Despite being raised in a period of rapid change, they display a remarkable self-confidence in their judgment. Having two younger brothers and cousins in that age group I speak from personal experience when I say that teens do their research prior to making large purchases because they want to make informed decisions and are particular about what they buy.
They also are influenced with the price of the items they buy. Teens have more disposable incomes than other demographics as most teens don’t have other expenses like mortgage payments, student loan payments or other debts to pay, this income is thought of as disposable. In shopping terms, disposable income is another way of saying ‘spendable’ income. Having been at the mall for the better part of three hours I found that purchasing preferences of today’s teens seem to center around a handful of brands such as Hollister, Abercrombie ; Fitch, Forever 21, west 49, Old Navy, American Eagle, Urban Outfitters, and Bench.
Teen male and teen female shopping behaviors differ significantly but in many ways, male and female teens behave alike. Both genders shop in packs, spend a significant amount of their time browsing the mall and are influenced by friends, family and celebrities. However, seeing it for myself here provides evidence and shows some general differences. Male teen shoppers are believed to buy brands, while female teens tend to buy styles. Store layouts used by apparel retailers often reflect that distinction. Teen boys rely on stores and their brands to pre-edit their style choices.
For boys, plain displays of clothing brands are the norm. Teen girls, on the other hand, are more comfortable mixing and matching different pieces and styles to create a desired look, which they may have seen in school, on TV or in a magazine. Shopping behavior is also different in terms of frequency and duration of the shopping trip. Females also tend to buy more on impulse and are more susceptible to the appeal of in-store promotional activities. Males are usually more task-driven, list-based shoppers. They tend to spend less time inside a store quickly glancing over items that may interest them than girls.
To me it seemed as if teen boys seem less interested in shopping for fun than girls. It can be argued that teens worry about their image more than other demographics. Popularity and peer pressure in high school can often be dependent on liking or having what is hip. Staying on top of these type of trends often involves spending money on them. When a man or woman has grown out of the teen stage and is starting a new career, the focus becomes more on practicality for the office than what others are wearing.
With Teens reading magazines, surfing the Internet and watching television I think it has become the main source that teens depend upon to become informed on social trends and fashions. Today’s teens are exposed to various media targeting their market segment. TV programs like Gossip Girl, the OC, The Hills and movies such as High School Musical have a huge impact and influence on teen tribes and their shopping patterns. TV shows create inspirational reference points that teens use to help shape their behaviors, preferences and attitudes.
The OC, for example, was instrumental in bringing the Californian beach culture into mainstream Canada and helped propel retailers such as Hollister and Abercrombie ; Fitch. Other key influencers I think include an older family member, school friend, neighborhood acquaintance, pro athlete, pop artist, TV personality or movie star. All these can have influences on what and how teens shop. At the start of this paper I sat here with my laptop writing this paper and realized many younger males preference for wearing baggy jeans well below their waist.
Baggy jeans worn below the waist is more directly associated with the “Ghetto” tribe, which is rooted in urban U. S. African-American culture. It was born in New York’s poorest areas, such as the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. It is highly influenced nowadays by the rap and hip-hop scene and artists like 50-cent, Timberland, B. o. B, Lil Wayne etc. The look usually includes large hoodies, bandanas, baseball caps (which rise above the head and are twisted to the side). Ghetto is a predominantly urban, working-class phenomenon.
Despite its origins in African-American communities, the dressing style has transcended to other ethnic groups. Made fashionable and re-interpreted by successful hip hop artists, the Ghetto dressing style inspired a new trend called Ghetto Chic, which has penetrated other segments of our Canadian society. In the recent past, Michael Jordan and other pro athletes have served as sources of influence for teen shopping behaviors in some situations celebrities can be an important influence model.
For example, teens more actively involved in a particular activity or more eagerly pursuing certain interests tend to draw inspiration from notable, but not mainstream, individuals in the field. Consider up-and-coming athletes or promising underground rock bands. Their ability to recognize these virtuosi before they become known by the mainstream helps authenticate their expertise in specific activities or interests and lends them enormous credibility with their friends. These trendsetters, on the other hand, will inspire others who share similar interests.
These influencers can be another family member, neighbor, school friend or simply a popular acquaintance. My time at the mall allowed me to see things that I didn’t really pay much attention to before. I noticed that most teens were following three main types of styles that teens are leaning towards currently: The Emo Scene, Skate scene and Ghetto chic. The Emo, scene which is short for emotional, is rooted in the hardcore punk scene from the 1980s and the indie scene from the 1990s which has come back to life in the recent years along with some other fashion trends. The dressing style and attitude often reflect a melancholic state.
What I saw was that the majority of the teens following this style wore black skinny jeans, tight theme or vintage-looking t-shirts, studded belts, canvas sneakers or skate shoes, long bangs or brushed aside or worn over the eyes or black straight hair. Having been in and out of the west 49 store a couple of times I saw a lot of teens that fit that description for the most part. I also noticed that most of the shoppers there were there for shoes, and the majority of the people shopping there were people in their teens. The skate culture emerged from the surf culture in the West Coast, and later spread across the U.
S and Canada and the rest of the world. The rebellious image from the 1990s has faded in recent years as skate culture became more mainstream. Its growth beyond suburbs attracted a larger influence of urban culture, creating a new trend called skurban. The majority of teens that are drawn to this scene mostly shop at West 49 and other skate shops for clothes and shoes and everything that goes along with the culture. When it all comes down to it I found that the majority of the boys teen shopping habits lean more towards video games and electronics rather than clothes.
I went to EB Games and found that 100% of the people shopping in there at the time I was there were teenage boys. Girls I found to tend to buy more clothes and beauty products. I have no reason to believe that these characteristics will change significantly in the near future. What may change, however, is the role that technology plays in the shopping process. I think that in the future teens and people in general will lean more towards shopping online. Teens are a diverse, vibrant, growing, and crucial market in the world today and their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors will affect the marketplace for many years to come.