Hot Stuff

Teens

When the Backstreet Boys' Millennium album sells 1.1 million copies its first week, dusting former record-holder Garth Brooks, you know who rules the school. Teens are it.

In denial? The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by 2010, the nation's teen population will grow from today's 31 million to 35 million, surpassing the much-hyped boomers in number. According to Teenage Research Unlimited, the typical teen spends $89 a week. And Business Week reported one in nine high school kids has a credit card co-signed by a parent. Today's favorite motion picture subjects (teens, duh) spent $141 billion in 1998-up $20 billion from 1997, according to Teenage Research Unlimited. Needless to say, they're a force to be reckoned with. And their greatest asset: They have no problem voicing their opinions.

Born after Apple IIEs were hot, teens naturally gravitate toward the Internet to entertain themselves and chat with friends. New York City-based Jupiter Communications predicts that by 2002, 16 million 13- to 19-year-olds will be online-nearly double the current total.

Aside from teens' propensity to glue themselves to their computer monitors, shopping and sports rank as popular activities. And although teens are still buying into very '90s pop culture: rave chic, Japanese hip, hip-hop cool and the Woodstock '99 "anything goes" mentality, they're about to embark on a trip to Glam 2000. TV hits like That '70s Show and upcoming movies like Charlie's Angels and a couple Battlestar Galactica remakes will bring even more glitter and blow-up furniture into the lives of teen girls going on 20. For guys, ESPN's X Games and MP3 mania have only strengthened "core" sports and music dominant interests. But don't forget-if you discount girls in regard to traditionally "boy" things, you're so out of it.

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This article was originally published in the December 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Hot Stuff.

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