Teen Influencers in 2016

Pivoting Toward Maturity and Effectiveness

When we were Teens, nobody but NOBODY could get through to us. Eat this. Wear that. Shouldn’t you be STUDYING? You should be friends with him and NOT with her.

All those judgmental opinions thrown at us like 95-mph fastballs, one after another. They were positioned as “helpful suggestions” on how to properly live our lives. But did we listen? Rarely. We had a mind of our own and wanted to live life on our terms.

Some things never change.

Today’s Teen generation, commonly referred to as ‘Generation Z,’ is comprised of attributes and philosophies different from that of their Millennial (‘Generation Y’) neighbors. Yet compared to Millennials, Teens remain a rather elusive group. So what makes them tick? What are their likes? Dislikes? What motivates them? And how can marketers successfully resonate with them? Here are three predictions for Teen behaviors in 2016:

1. You’ll have less time to capture their attention…and the focus better be on them.

The average attention span of teens is a mere 8 seconds. That’s four seconds shorter than it was 15 years ago. And, it is one second shorter than a goldfish’s attention span. Yes – a GOLDFISH. And nearly one in five Internet page views last fewer than 4 SECONDS. As consumers, Teens are increasingly demanding that marketers ‘get to the point and grab me while you can,’ with tools such as short videos. Experts and researchers alike conclude that Teens come to life and become excited when talked to swiftly and directly, and with content that is meaningful in their lives.

2. It’ll be an emotional ride on the decision roller coaster.

Overprotected. Pressured. Creative. Communitarian. These are all words used to describe Teens’ personalities, dispositions and interactions with the world around them. Their actions (and reactions) are guided by emotion, which makes marketing to this group even more of a challenge. And, FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is real. It drives their frenetic social media habits, their decisions, and in some cases their stress and depression levels. Teens in large part are afraid to miss something if they don’t stay connected, and many say they feel worried or uncomfortable if they can’t access their social media accounts. But there may be a breaking point too; many complain of ‘brain burnout’ from the constant connectivity. Buckle up. The next year promises to be another up and down year with Teens.

3. Teens will become even more empowered.

Teens are leveraging today’s technology to search out content that is authentic to them whenever and wherever they want. Fifty-five percent say they’re connected to more than 100 people through social sites, and 15% to more than 500. They’re motivated by honesty and integrity. They have worldly interests, are interested in their personal development, and are always searching for a greater meaning. They want to be inspired and to inspire others. And they’ll use this empowerment to play a critical role in making (or breaking) a brand or campaign based on how it aligns with their ideas.

The Teen segment may be the most agile, fickle and trickiest-to-engage generation yet. A strategic game of cat and mouse is about to ensue, and the right brand will have the insights and resources to choose the correct strategy, creative and media to resonate with the audience. Brands that take the time to understand Teens will find a willing, influential and brand-loyal audience.


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