As herds of teens make their way to the malls to do their shopping, understanding what drives their brand choices and shopping patterns is more critical than ever for today’s businesses. I can remember when I was younger, my grandparents would take me to J.C. Penney before the start of every school year to buy clothing. Then when spring came the following year, we would go again for the summer. This went on until I was about sixteen. My first employment was working as a stock boy in a fabric store. I can still remember my first paycheck. I was so happy and overwhelmed with joy that I went straight to the check cashing place to cash it and bought myself a North Face backpack. Now in 1996 having a North Face school bag meant you were part of the cool kids in school. Everyone was envious of my bag. I was very excited to be part of the social class now. In 2009, the same status still exists. Turns out that a key factor to this new generation's startling savvy is web-based. The Internet allows teenagers to rely on each other for information about related topics. This, too, is an insight: When I was a teenager, for instance, there was no comparable way for me to obtain information from the roughly 2,000 other teenagers at my high school. The Internet really does change everything. It is true that young people have diverse interests and react differently to messages than older people do. And certainly I don't doubt that teenagers know when they're being marketed to. But really, at this point, is there anyone alive who can't tell when they're being marketed to? Teenagers don't like to be marketed to, they know it's happening all the time, and yet they keep on buying things that are made for and marketed to them. That doesn't make teenagers different from practically every American who is old enough to spend money; it makes them exactly the same. Teens today have much more of a variety of apparel retailers that are geared towards their generation. Don’t get...
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