teens shopping

While it may be tempting to forget the years we spent in high school, that should not be the case with people currently enrolled in high school — teenagers.

In fact, U.S. teens have $91.1 billion in spending money, burning a hole in the pockets of their pre-ripped jeans — 18 percent of which is spent on food, according to a new report from FONA.

Combine that $91.1 billion with the spending power teens have over what mom picks up at the store, and suddenly the 25.8 million U.S. teens (13-18 year-olds) carry a whopping $211 billion in spending power.

“When we look at what youth today personally own, it’s definitely more than the generation before them and immensely more than what kids owned two generations ago. What is also important to remember is that youths are not passive receivers of things,” says Regina A. Corso, senior v.p. for youth and education research at Harris Interactive.  “Today’s youth actively have input into what they have and what their families have.”

And of course, a huge chunk of that money is being spent on snacks.

Specifically, 87 percent of moms say they ask their teens for their opinions quite often before purchasing snacks. The category is second only to restaurants, which 90 percent of moms usually ask for from their teens on before choosing. And then, 87 percent of moms usually ask for input on cereal, while 83 percent usually ask for input on beverages.

Overall, parents are increasingly letting kids dictate, or at least have a vote on, purchases ranging from breakfast food to large ticket items like TVs, cars and vacation destinations.

 “Decision-making within families today is almost entirely collaborative – and as kids become more influential, they’re impacting purchasing decisions,” says Christian Kurz, v.p. of research at Viacom International Media Networks.

Girls tend to have more influence because they are more aware of items in the house and have more retail experience, says Renee Weber, v.p. consumer strategy & research for The Marketing Store Worldwide. Older kids, not surprisingly, also have more influence because they have more knowledge and are able to form and state their opinions more clearly.

Overall, families spend about $117.6 billion annually on teens for food, apparel, personal care and entertainment

But when teens are serving up their opinions, are moms listening? Yes, they are!

Fifty-seven percent of teens say mom listens to their opinions all or most of the time, while 40 percent of teens say mom listens often and only 3 percent say mom never listens to them.

No matter how you look at it though, it’s definitely important for marketers to listen to them.