Who and what influences teenagers’ lives?

One of the many things that brands grapple with when it comes to understanding teenagers is unpicking the many disparate influences on their lives. In our new research report, Teens in 2017, we sought to get to the heart of this issue.

Our research found that more immediate factors, such as teenagers’ style, the items they buy and what they choose to read, watch and listen to, are influenced by their friends and the people they follow on social media. Teens also see themselves as independent thinkers when it comes to these areas of their lives.

Social media has the greatest influence on teenagers’ style. Yet when you dig into the gender differences, it becomes clear that girls see the people that they follow on social media as having a much stronger influence on their fashion choices whereas for boys, close friends have a more important role to play in determining what they wear.

Close friends also exert a strong influence on what teenagers read, watch and listen to across the board, suggesting that word of mouth is important in determining the type of content that teens
engage with.

When it comes to the items that teenagers buy, close friends and the people they follow on social media also have some influence, with social media and bloggers exerting more influence on girls than on boys.

When it comes to the bigger, long-term picture and key life decisions, parents have greater influence, which far outweighs the views of their friends. Parents exert the strongest sway over
teenagers’ finances, closely followed by their life choices about their career and education and their health and wellbeing.