The Youth Subculture

The Youth market is a significant subculture for the marketer. Youth are often considered to be those between the ages of 14 and 24, although we will concentrate on teenagers. The youth market is important to marketers not only because it is lucrative but also because many consumption patterns held throughout life are firmed at this time and also because of the public policy implications of marketers activities directed at younger people during their formative years.

Demographic Characteristics:

There are many important characteristics of the youth market with which marketers should be familiar. The following is a summary of these factors.

Size: The number of persons between the ages of 13 and 19 has been shrinking in recent years. The teenage group bottomed out at 23 million in 1991, but is expected to increase to 27 million by 2000.

Income and Spending: There is no market without income, and the youth segment qualifies on this important dimension. Their spending reached about $55 billion in 1988, with approximately $11 billion put in savings. Because many jobs are available in fast food restaurants and other businesses that need young people for labor over 30 percent of high school senior boys and nearly 25 percent of senior girls say they average over 20 hours of work a week during h school year.

The most important facet of their income is that they are almost entirely discretionary, that is, there are few, if any fixed obligations such as taxes, rent, insurance and utilities that these youths must meet. A notable result of increasing youth income is the increasing tendency of youths to buy more durable of youths to buy more durable and high priced products from radios to designer jeans, cosmetics and footwear. According to the president of a youth research company, Products which were considered luxuries a few years ago are deemed necessities by youths and parents alike. Thus, some youths are experiencing premature affluence – they have a lot of spending money but will not be able to sustain that level of discretionary sending once they have taken on the burdens of paying for their own necessities.

Why do youths have such strong consumptions orientation? According to one researcher, three significant forces have molded their attitudes and consumer behavior. First, the experience of growing up in period of almost unbroken prosperity has produced a widely shared feeling of economic optimism. A second factor is permissive child rearing which has been linked by researchers to a reduced educational level and heavier exposure to the mass media.

These environmental forces have had a significant influence on their consumer behavior orientations. The result has been that youths tend to be rather optimistic about their future financial situations and level and level of living. For example, almost all young people look forward to what has been labeled the standard package – the set of durable goods, clothing, food products, and services enjoyed by the majority of Americans. Although they used to be hold to save their money, young people inn America today are being raised to spend, according to an authority who conducts a yearly youth poll. It is also important to recognize that the ten market not only spends a great deal of money on its own, but also influences the amount spent by parents. In total, it represents an almost $250 billion market in direct or indirect spending. Even children aged 4 to 12 directly influence $132 billion of household purchases. Today’s parents recognize that their kids are a lot more involved in making family decisions than they were as children and many teens are doing the family shopping. Corporations are recognizing this trend and capitalizing on the fact that children can be very persistent in their search for a particular item.