Monthly Archives

December 2016

The Majority Teens Use Makeup to Express Themselves

By | Acumen Insights

Across the nation, American tweens and teens are indulging in makeup. Research from Mintel reveals that as many as 80 percent of all nine to 11 year olds use beauty and personal care products. More than half of 12 to 14 year olds use mascara (54 percent), as well as eye shadow, eye liner and eyebrow pencils (54 percent). But beauty isn’t just the preserve of young girls: while 90 percent of girls aged nine to 17 are beauty product users, seven in 10 (69 percent) boys of the same age enjoy a touch of beauty. Indeed, product usage among boys is high, with more than two in five boys aged 12 to 17 using facial cleansing products (44 percent), perfume/cologne (42 percent) and lip care products (41 percent), while three in 10 (29 percent) use hair styling mousse, gels and creams.

Although more than half (56 percent) of teens say they use makeup to express themselves and their style, confidence is a major driver behind beauty and personal care product usage. Some 42 percent of US teens aged 12 to 14 who use beauty and personal care products do so because it makes them feel more confident, rising to well over half (56 percent) of those aged 15 to 17. One in seven (16 percent) kids aged 12 to 14 use personal care products to look older/more grown up, with young boys (19 percent) more likely than girls (14 percent) to feel the pressure to look good.

The research indicates that teen girls in particular are looking for relatable spokespeople as overall, more than one third (36 percent) of all 12 to 17 year old beauty product users are eager to see people who are not photo-shopped or airbrushed in beauty and personal care advertisements, with girls (41 percent) twice as likely as boys (21 percent) to say this. What’s more, half (51 percent) of teens are looking for a spokesperson who is “like them.” It is clear that in beauty and personal care advertising, different spokespeople appeal to different genders, as teenage boys are particularly interested in seeing celebrities (40 percent) and athletes (33 percent); however, teen girls are considerably less moved by the use of celebrities (26 percent) and athletes (17 percent) than their male counterparts.

Chatbots Could Be the New Way to Reach Gen Z

By | Acumen Insights

In an effort to connect with Gen Z on their own digital turf, the Canadian messaging app Kik has released a new “chatbot” technology, and it seems to have caught on in a big way. According to statistics from Kik as reported by Ad Week, users have exchanged 1.8 billion messages with the more than 20,000 bots created by developers earlier in the year. Already, around 60 or 70 brands have gone through Kik’s vetting process and progressed to its bot discovery area, with another 40 or so going through some sort of advertising trial on Kik. Kik certainly has plenty of interest from younger generations, with 60 percent of bot users between 13 and 19 years old. There are also more females than males using bots, and 81 percent of all users are from the U.S. (Canada and the U.K. have the second- and third-most users.)

While much of the growth has been directly through the Bot discovery area, Kik has been adding ways to spread bots via word of mouth. Last month, it introduced a way for users to invite friends to try out bots, which helped one zombie invasion game bot increase its subscribers by 20 percent. Instead of focusing on traditional online metrics such as web traffic and bounce rates, Kik has been working to create a framework focused on attention, looking at the number of messages or the time of interaction. For example, one major film marketer saw nearly 15 minutes of time spent with its bot, while some retailers have sent and received close to 100 messages.

Summer 2016 Shows Strongest Teen Employment Market in Years

By | Acumen Insights

Summer 2016 was a lucrative one for teenage wage earners. With strong hiring in June and July, the number of teenagers finding summer employment in 2016 increased by more than 15 percent to its highest level since 2013, according to an analysis of government data by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. Employment among teens increased by 1.3 million between May and July, 15.4 percent more than a year ago, when 1.2 million 16 to 19-year-olds were added to the employment rolls. The summer total was helped by heavier-than-usual teen employment gains in July. A total of 492,000 teenagers found jobs in July, according to non-seasonally adjusted data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The July teen job gains were 33 percent higher than last year’s 369,000, and August’s gains were 25 percent higher than the 392,900 July job gains averaged over the previous 10 years. The strong summer hiring brought total employment among 16 to 19-year-olds to 6 million, which is the highest number of employed teens since August 2008, when 6.1 million teenagers were working.

Teen employment has been declining since the 1970s when, at its peak in July 1978, more than 10 million teenagers were employed. Much of the decline appears to be by choice, as a growing number of teenagers participate in summer sports and education programs, volunteer, travel or work in jobs that fall below the standard employment measures. However, even with the promise of tuition assistance, it may be an uphill battle when it comes to bringing teens back into the fold. According to unpublished, non-seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the 9.5 million 16 to 19-year-olds not in the labor force last month, more than 8.5 million, or roughly 90 percent, indicated that they do not want a job.

Want Millennials to Save For Retirement? Try Company Matched Savings.

By | Acumen Insights

Millennials are beginning to invest more heavily in their retirement, according to data from human resource provider TriNet. Most noteworthy in this data is substantial changes to Millennials’ retirement savings activity over the last three years. According to the report, all age groups whose employers offer company retirement accounts have shown an increase in retirement savings since 2012, with Millennials making the most significant changes in how much of their income they stash away. In 2012, 17 percent of Millennials with company-offered retirement benefits contributed to their company-sponsored retirement savings. By 2015, that number rose to 29 percent. Furthermore, retirement savings plans that offered company matching saw increased participation rates across all age groups. In 2015, 42 percent of Millennials participated in retirement plans with company matching, whereas only 23 percent participated in retirement savings without matching.

Notably, retirement savings plans with company matching have participation rates that are 72 percent higher than plans without company matching. In 2015, Millennials contributed three percent of their income toward retirement savings accounts, while Xers and Boomers contributed four percent of the income. Whether or not companies matched their retirement savings, Millennials’ investments stayed steady in the range of $2,000 to $3,000 annually for each year between 2012 through 2015. The report also found that, for all age groups, married people contributed significantly more to their retirement savings. In 2015, 50 percent of married individuals participated, while 32 percent of single individuals participated. Married individuals also saved more of their money – four percent, as opposed to three percent for single people.

A Generation of Streamers

By | Acumen Insights

As a powerful consumer group, understanding the nuances of Gen Z is of the utmost importance for today’s marketers and retailers. As the first generation born in the 21st century, this age group of 13 to 18 year olds has grown up with technology at their fingertips, access that has majorly impacted their media habits. According to research from Civic Science close to half of Millennials (those 18 to 34) stream TV shows or movies every day, but Gen Zers stream their TV and videos just as much as they watch TV live (or DVR) each day. Fifty-one percent spend more than one hour per day streaming TV/videos while 52 percent spend more than one hour per day watching TV. Compare this to the 60 percent of Millennials who spend more than one hour per day watching TV.

Although Gen Z doesn’t spend as much time as Millennials watching TV each day, they are surprisingly more engaged with what they are watching. Nearly 40 percent of Millennials are distracted by a second screen and are looking at content that isn’t related to what they are watching. That’s compared to 31 percent of Gen Z viewers who are distracted while watching TV, meaning at least 31 percent of this prime audience may not be paying attention to TV advertising.

Overall, Gen Z spends more time streaming music. Pandora and Spotify are top players when it comes to listening to music, and Gen Zers are 33 percent more likely than Millennials to listen to Spotify more than five hours a week. However, when it comes to streaming music on Pandora, both groups behave similarly: 12 percent of Gen Zers listen to Pandora more than five hours a week compared to 13 percent of Millennials. About 21 percent of Gen Z consumers pay for their music streaming, but roughly 56 percent listen to free services, which is in line with Millennials’ behaviors. Since the majority of Gen Zers and Millennials are listening to the free versions, they are hearing numerous advertisements throughout the week. This may be a good advertising avenue to reach these younger consumers.

Are Gen Z Consumers Less Price Conscious Than Millennials?

By | Acumen Insights

As Gen Z begins to wield their purchase power, they are changing the landscape for retailers in a number of ways. A study from Civic Science examines this generation of 13 to 17 year olds in comparison to Millennials (18 to 34 year olds), and found Millennials tend to be more price sensitive than Gen Z. For example, Millennials are 29 percent more likely to always compare prices before making purchases, and they are 18 percent more likely to be price-conscious when it comes to clothing in particular. One possible reason for this is that given the younger age of the Gen Z consumers, there’s a good chance their parents are still supporting them and making many of their purchases. Therefore, they may not be as inclined to find the best price. However, it will be interesting to track whether their behaviors change as they become more financially independent.

For both of these generations, social media is the best way to capture consumers’ attention. Over half of Millennials and Gen Zers say they are most influenced by social media rather than ads on TV or the Internet. Interestingly, Millennials are more influenced by social media than their younger counter parts, with 58 percent of Millennials who say comments on social media have the most influence on purchases versus 53 percent of Gen Z. Looking at specific social media platforms, Facebook seems to be losing traction with younger generations: 55 percent of Millennials use Facebook daily, compared to 31 percent of Gen Z. Facebook is tied with Instagram as the top social network Gen Zers uses daily, followed by Snapchat and Twitter.

Smartphone Addiction Is On the Rise

By | Acumen Insights

Having trouble putting down your smartphone? You are not alone. Data from Civic Science shows device addiction is becoming a full-blown epidemic, with 59 percent of online consumers aged 13 and older who consider themselves at least somewhat addicted to their digital device. The proliferation of device addiction over the last few years is impressive. By the end of 2013, the number of Americans who self-identified as addicts was 49 percent, meaning the current 59 percent represents a 20 percent increase in the past 30 months. If this trend continues, addiction rates could be as high as 70 percent by the end of 2018.

It may come as no surprise that device addiction is most common among younger people. Seventy-six percent of people under the age of 25 consider themselves addicted, a rate almost twice that of consumers age 55 or older.  Addiction rates are also higher among women, Hispanic-Americans, and people who live in urban areas. Reported rates of addiction increased the most among respondents aged 35 to 54 and slightly among those 55 plus. Among people 34 and younger, the numbers actually decreased. Addiction rates are also growing faster among men, parents, suburbanites, and the wealthy.

America’s Back-to-School Spending Sprees

By | Acumen Insights

As children head back into another school year, schools prepare to open their doors again and parents prepare to open their wallets. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) as reported by Forbes, average back-to-school spending per household is set to reach $674 this year, with $204.06 of that budget going to electronics, $235.39 spent on clothing and accessories, $126.55 on shoes and $107.76 on supplies. Over the past decade, total back-to-school spending has grown 55 percent and the NRF predicts it will top $27 billion this year.

Predictions indicate that this year, discount stores will attract the most shoppers (60.5 percent), followed by department stores (59.6 percent) and clothing stores (51.0 percent). Interestingly, online shopping is going to be in less demand than those old-school retailers, with 46 percent of consumers planning to use them this year. Parents are set to spend the majority of their budget on clothing, accessories and electronics. Imports of school and office supplies offer a glimpse of the sheer scale of back-to-school demand every year. Take rubber erasers for example. Annually, the U.S. imports a whopping $17.8 million of them, $10.3 million of which comes from China.

Meat-Hungry Millennials

By | Acumen Insights

Younger consumers may say environmental sustainability tops their list of concerns when choosing to purchase products, but there’s reason to believe their habits don’t live up to their purported values. New research on meat consumption habits reported by Quartz show the country’s millennial generation is on track to eat just as much meat as the Boomer generation—even as more environmental scientists decry meat production as a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental problems. The top reasons Millennials cite for eating less meat include: health (30 percent), animal welfare and environmental (both 23 percent), and social influences (22 percent).

Yet data shows there’s some self-deception at play with when it comes to this topic. Research shows 78 percent of Millennials ate either the same amount of meat or more of it last year than the year before, perhaps because Millennials tend to eat out more than their parents’ generation, and are willing to pay more for convenience. Compared to Baby Boomers, Millennials have stronger opinions about the role meat plays in their diet. Fifty-four percent of Millennials (versus 47 percent of Boomers) say, “nothing is as satisfying as eating good steak,” while 51 percent of Millennials (and 43 percent of Boomers) say, “eating meat keeps me full for a long time,” and 52 percent of Millennials (compared to 40 percent of Boomers) say, “meat is essential for a balanced diet.” Finally, Millennials spend more on meat on average ($162 per month) than Boomers ($93 per month).