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Teens are their household's chief influencers, whose opinion on purchases is heeded by parents worldwide. Youths' status as digital natives gives them greater authority than older family members and that influence extends beyond digital purchases to food and beverages and even big ticket items like furniture and travel.
A report from IBM and the National Retail Federation (NRF) provides context for how teens are acquiring and spending their own money, and influencing their parents' expenditures. It surveyed 15,600 teens ages 13 to 21 from 16 countries.
Not surprisingly, clothes and shoes mark the top category in which teens wield influence. Some 55% of survey respondents spend their own money on these purchases, and 60% of them influence family apparel buying.
Physical copies of books and music are the second-highest category in which teens are persuasive, with 52% of respondents' spending their own money, and 41% influencing their parents.
About half of teens polled were more likely to use their own money on entertainment categories such as apps and toys and games, as well as books and music. But significant percentages of teens were able to convince their parents about product choices.
Some 48% of teens spent their own money on events and outings, but the same percentage influenced spending on family excursions.
Parents are influenced the most by their teens when it comes to traditional categories such as food and beverages, furniture, household goods and travel. Gone are the days when parents unilaterally decided what their children ate, and what furniture to purchase for their bedrooms. Around three-quarters of teens said they influenced how their parents spent on these categories. Sixty-six percent helped determine family travel plans.
When it comes to own money, teens acquire it in a number of ways. Around 60% of them receive an allowance. Less than a quarter work part-time and 9% work full-time. About one in five receive money as gifts. Between 9% and 16% are teenage tycoons who manage to make money online or work for themselves.
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