By Shelcie Takenouchi
This month’s column is brought to you by Shelcie Takenouchi, a senior at Kaua`i High School and an intern with Fujita & Miura Public Relations. Mahalo to Shelcie for providing invaluable insight about reaching out to today’s youth.

In case you haven’t had your daily dose of MTV, you might still be in the clouds when it comes to what has been attracting the younger public these days. The Livestrong wristband created by the Lance Armstrong Foundation and Nike has become a huge hit, especially with teens. The yellow elastic band sells for $1 and the proceeds from the sales go to a great cause: helping youth cancer survivors and their families. Armstrong, who was diagnosed with cancer in 1996, started the Lance Armstrong Foundation to “help people with cancer around the world get the practical information and tools they need to live strong.”

The wristband, and the larger purpose it’s connected to, have become so popular that celebrities like Matt Damon, Bruce Willis, and Robin Williams all own one. The yellow Livestrong bracelets even peeked out under George Bush’s and John Kerry’s suit cuffs during the campaign season. Seven million Livestrong wristbands have already been sold and now with demand up, supplies low, and backorders bulging, 1.8 million more are being made.

Teens are attracted to this new wristband for several reasons: the proceeds go to a good cause, it looks cool, and well, it’s cheap. The Livestrong bracelets are just one way that the power of today’s youth is being noticed. According to a 2002 study by research firm U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray, “ Teens spend an average of $135 per month on apparel and related products. Teen girls spend 36% of their disposable income on clothes.” How much spending is controlled or influenced by young people?

  • Teens personally spend over $200 billion annually for items like snacks, soft drinks, entertainment, and apparel.
  • Teens directly influence over $300 billion worth of spending annually for food, snacks, beverages, toys, health and beauty items, clothing, accessories, gifts, and school supplies.
  • Teens indirectly influence over $500 billion of spending annually for recreation, vacations, technology, the family car, and the family.

These statistics and the Livestrong bracelet craze are powerful reminders to businesses to not underestimate the youth consumer segment. Modern teens have disposable income, spend money like never before, and influence trends and attitudes. Find a way for your product or service to appeal to young people, and remember to provide high quality service to teens. Pleasing this consumer segment is well worth the effort.

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