Teenager Consumers: Their Characteristics, Roles, and Market

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INTRODUCTION
A bunch of teenagers –roughly aged 16 or 17, were seen in Pondok Indah Mall. Wearing babydoll and legging orT-shirt and tight jeans –the latest fashion trend, the girls asked the boys to enter a boutique. The boys, Mohawk-styled hair, seemed unenthusiastic. They preferred to go to a game store. When they gathered again later in Starbucks, most of them already brought a shopping bag. Clothes, shoes, accessories, and games software are among the stuffs they had bought. After chatting for a while, they realized that it was time they had waited for. Almost 3.15 pm, the movie was about to begin. Then they left the café, walked to the other side of the mall heading 21 theater. Brad Pitt’s just-released movie is on the screen. “You won’t ever want to miss it,” said one of the girls.

The illustration above is something that is commonly seen nowadays. Teenagers, especially those who live in big cities, are very familiar with malls. Well, malls of course can not be separated from consumption. And malls are now where most teenagers spend their free time. Teenagers have particular characteristics. Fashion, hangout and café, gadget, and entertainment are very close to teenagers. And they can be found in a mall. Thus, we can imagine how these young people –aged 12 to 19 years- are becoming considerable consumer. They just exited childhood life and are able to perceive something and behave differently. Adolescence is a particularly important time of life, representing the bridge from childhood to adulthood. It is a transition phase from being a small boy to being a man. In the early ages, they get very much attention from parent, while in the adult transition phase (college student) they become much more independent. Therefore, adolescence is in-between, they are given certain autonomy but parent still play pretty dominant role. Traditionally children are thought of as victims in the children's consumption literature (Bristol, 2001). Children were seen as the victims of marketer, advertising, and adults in general. But how children and teenagers behave today, including in consumption, is different from it was in the past. Their characteristics related to consumption have changed. Now we can see how teenagers involved much in consumption behavior although this experience is relatively ‘new’ for them. However, not only do adolescents represent "consumers-in-training," but they are important consumers in their own right. The purchasing power of teens has increased dramatically in recent years and teens represent a particularly large group of consumers. Thus, it is important for consumer researchers or marketer to understand this market segment.

How Teens are Like Today
Generally, today’s teenagers have particular characteristics that distinguish them from child and adults. They are: Fashionable (ala Britney Spears), always following trend. Always want to be part of the group and show their existences, therefore they tend to make group. Further, it means that there are some “requirements” or “style” to conform with the group. Love to hangout, especially in malls and tend to be spendthrift. Still in identity-seeking phase, peer group influence is very dominant. Aged 12 to 19 years, most of them are in secondary or high school. Much more Internet savvy than the previous generation. Teenagers today can be categorized as what so called Millenials (born between 1980 and 2000). They represent a group of well-connected, over-stimulated, media-savvy consumers who are open minded, optimistic, and well-educated. Millenials are the first generation of true multi-taskers, easily balancing e-mail, text-messaging, music downloads, homework, and a strict schedule of sporting and other activities, simultaneously. This generation is more adept at communications than any of its predecessors. The wireless internet is their central nervous system, and simply put, they just don’t need much else (Pirovano, 2006). Today’s young...
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