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Pleasing a teenager has always been a fool's errand.
But, especially for retail, restaurant and media brands, it might be getting even harder.
U.S. teen spending is down 4 percent compared with this time last year, based on a poll of 6,100 teens for Piper Jaffray's 34th biannual "Taking Stock with Teens" survey. Teens are estimated to contribute $830 billion to the country's retail sales, or about 7 percent of the total.
Here are some of the key findings:
While athleisure has been popular across demographic groups, the survey suggests a shift in both fashion favor and brands among teens.
Overall, only a third of teens say their favorite apparel brands are in the athletic category, down from more than 40 percent in the spring. Piper Jaffray sees the trends moving towards "street, denim and festival wear." Festival wear takes its fashion cues from Coachella and other events.
Nike is still the No. 1 preferred apparel brand for teens, but it has lost share, falling from 29 percent of teens ranking it as their favorite to 23 percent. Adidas and American Eagle Outfitters have picked up most of the share Nike has lost. Adidas has doubled its mindshare and is now the No. 3 preferred brand, particularly popular with the guys. American Eagle holds on to the No. 2 spot but with a higher share this year than last.
Street brand Supreme, which just locked in a reported $500 million minority stake from private equity firm Carlyle Group, cracks into the top 10 preferred apparel brands for the first time, led by the male cohort.
For average-income teens, Vans hits the top 10 apparel brand preference for the first time, led largely by the males.
Tommy Hilfiger cracked the top 20 for the first time for males.
Under Armour is again the No. 1 brand males classify as an "old brand" that they no longer wear. Piper Jaffray notes among upper-income females, Under Armour got only one vote as the preferred apparel brand.
As a result, Piper Jaffray analyst Erinn Murphy is lowering earnings estimates and her price target for shares of Under Armour.
Ralph Lauren is quickly falling out of favor with all teens, dropping out of the top 10 for upper-income teens and falling to No. 8 from No. 4 for average-income teens.
The story is similar for teens' footwear preference. Nike remains No. 1, but the percent of teens who like the brand the most has fallen from 51 to 46 percent. That drop matches Adidas' gain.
However, while Adidas doubled its popularity as a footwear preference as it did as an apparel preference, Vans remains at No. 2. Vans also gained ground and is now at its highest preference level in the survey's history. While the males favor the brand's footwear, Vans apparel preference is driven largely by the women.
Last year, Steve Madden was the No. 5 preferred footwear brand for all teens. This year it's plunged to No. 20.
Ugg tied with Steve Madden, falling out of the top 10 for the first time in more than 10 years of surveys. Meanwhile, Birkenstock cracked the top five preferred footwear brands for upper-income teens.
Handbag makers targeting teens may be in for slower sales from the group in the next six months. Only one in four teen women say they plan to buy a new handbag soon, down from 37 percent in the spring and 41 percent as the multiyear average intention to buy a purse.
Michael Kors, Kate Spade and Coach remain the top three preferred handbag brands respectively. But, an older brand suddenly gained some cool points with teen women. Calvin Klein (PVH owns the brand, GIII has the handbag license) makes an appearance in the top 10 for the first time as a preferred handbag brand, coming in at No. 8 for upper-income females and No. 10 for average-income.
When it comes to online shopping, it's the way teens prefer to shop. Amazon blows the competition out of the water, with 49 percent of upper-income teens picking it as their most preferred website.
Piper Jaffray said its survey suggests there are somewhere between the high-60 million to low-70 million U.S. households with Amazon Prime memberships, with 46 percent of new Prime members coming from the top 2 quintiles of household income.
Nike is a distant No. 2, with 6 percent share, followed by American Eagle at 5 percent.
EBay did see an uptick in responses as a preferred website. While Wal-Mart and Target have spent billions of dollars improving their website experience, supply chain and delivery, it seems to be lost on teens. Wal-Mart logged only 0.18 percent of mindshare online, Target did only slightly better at 0.44 percent.
Teens like to eat, and many prefer to eat out over cooking for themselves; that's not surprising. The survey has a history of showing spending on food outpacing clothing, and that remains the case. However, restaurant spending has fallen to 22 percent share of total spending from the spring's all-time-high level of 24 percent.
Dunkin' Donuts is again the most preferred restaurant for upper-income teens, unseating McDonald's from last fall and Panera from 2015. Dunkin' Donuts was last the top restaurant for the cohort in fall of 2014.
Buffalo Wild Wings reigns supreme for average-income teens, holding its position from the spring.