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American teens are increasingly becoming sneakerheads

Boy Shopping for New Shoes in Fashion Store
Boy Shopping for New Shoes in Fashion Store

American teenagers are embracing sneaker culture in significant numbers, according to Piper Jaffray’s spring 2019 “Taking Stock with Teens Survey.” Thirty-one percent of male teens and 22% of female teens consider themselves sneakerheads (sneaker enthusiasts or collectors). Teens surveyed own eight pairs of sneakers on average, and at least 30% buy a new pair every month.

When it comes to American teens’ footwear preference, Nike is GenZ’s brand of choice. According to those surveyed, 41% said that Nike was their favorite footwear brand. Vans came in second at 20%, and Adidas came in at No. 3 with 13%. The three brands have taken the top 3 spots since spring 2017 and are the brands of choice for 74% of all teens surveyed.

Nike has also made great strides among teens with its SNKRS mobile app. According to the survey, the average male teen shops on the app 39 times per year, while their female peers shop on the app an average of 19 times a year.

Streets of the city of Valencia, Spain.
Streets of the city of Valencia, Spain.

Piper Jaffray analyst Erinn Murphy says Nike is in “a very strong eight-and-a-half year long athletic cycle” in which Nike has risen in popularity among teens and millennials to become top brand across apparel and footwear.

Murphy also points out that the athletic footwear landscape has changed over the last 3 years. “[It’s] gotten a lot cleaner, and it’s not as promotional as it used to be. Sneaker brands like Nike, Jordan and Adidas’s Yeezy have become social currency.”

Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance
Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance

U.S teens also have strong preferences when it comes to buying and selling sneakers on the secondary market. Sixty-seven percent of surveyed teens use StockX as their secondary marketplace of choice while 27% prefer to use GOAT Group, which includes Flight Club.

“I think big picture there is a tremendous opportunity,” Murphy said. “Fashion and athletic brands have become a way of life. It is being used not just for sports but everyday wear — 72% of females named an athletic brand as their favorite brand. Going back to our survey 10 years ago, that number was in the low 20% range. The rise of athletic in the primary market shows a long proxy of what the secondary market can do over time.”

Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade

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