Tamara Jacobs                                                          
Sheila Noone

Who Are the Biggest Influencers Among Teen Girls?  Teen Girls!

Survey from Varsity Brands Reveals That Teen Girl Opinions Are Greatest Influence, Involvement and Leadership are Critical, Recent Economic Conditions Factor into Teen Concerns

MEMPHIS, TN, November 16, 2010 – A recent survey by Varsity Brands of teen girls showed that ninety-three (93) percent of teen girls participate in one or more activities at school.  Nearly half of teen girls hold some type of leadership position in or out of school and almost three quarters feel people look to them as a leader.  Interestingly, being a leader resonates with teen girls more than being trendy—47 percent more teen girls identify themselves as leaders versus trendsetters. They are not interested in changing who they are, as three-quarters (77 percent) are comfortable in their own skin.

The study surveyed 1,016 teen girls ages 13-18 to represent the roughly 14 million teen girls across the United States and sought to find out more about this powerful teen demographic, how they spend their time, how influential they are as a group and where they hold the most power of influence.

“In 2010, teen girls give “girl power” a whole new meaning,” said Nicole Lauchaire, Vice President, Corporate Marketing and Communications for Varsity Brands, Inc.  “Girls today are social connectors empowered by technology, and they beat out their male counterparts when it comes to “connecting” online. Additionally, teenage girls are more involved than ever in their communities and value leadership more than simply being trendy.”

Community and Giving Back
For teen girls the broader community is a touch point where they connect and contribute their talent and energy. Teen girls are about twice as likely as teen boys to belong to a volunteer group, with roughly 65 percent of teen girls having volunteered in the past 12 months.

Girls as Brand Evangelists
Teen girls generally show more brand loyalty and make more purchases than teen boys. Teen girls are vocal about their purchases within their social circles. Nearly 9 out of 10 teen girls say they enjoy sharing recommendations with their friends.  Teen girls know they are influencers— 53 percent of teen girls believe their opinions greatly influence their friends’ purchase decisions. Teen girls report that their friends’ opinions and actions are the No. 1 reasons they will make a purchase.  Seventy seven (77) percent of teen girls say they are influenced by purchases of their friends and 71 percent say online posts influence them. This indicates a two-way influence dynamic: those who are more likely to influence others also are more likely to be influenced by others.  When a teen likes a brand, they are most likely to directly recommend that brand to a friend/peer (73%) or buy another product by the brand (69%). Virtual recommendations, such as becoming a fan of the brand online (48%), following the brand on a social media site (30%), or sharing links about the brand (17%) are less frequent. 

Teen Girl Social Connections Online
While teen boys and girls spend roughly the same amount of time online, teen girls are more likely to use that time for connecting, self-expression and relationship building. Teen girls spend hours each day interacting with their friends through texting and social media. However, their preferred method of communication (e.g. texting, face-to-face, etc) varies depending on their audience. Texting is the preference for communicating with close friends, but many teen girls prefer to use social media to get in touch with classmates.  Face-to-face is their primary means of communicating with authoritative figures such as parents, teachers and coaches.

Teen Girls are Good Sports
Teen girls are embracing being active more and more, and athletics are the leading activity teen girls participate in at school. Today, 65 percent of high school girls participate in a school sport. The top 10 most popular include track and field, soccer, tennis, basketball, volleyball, softball, cross country, swimming, cheerleading and dance team. 

In addition to helping them keep fit, participation in athletics gives teen girls a variety of interpersonal benefits. Through athletics, teen girls learn to enjoy healthy competition. Four out of five female athletes experience the “thrill of competition” from joining a school sport or spirit team. Participating in athletics helps teen girls make new friends (86%) and gives them a built-in support system (65%).

Though the interpersonal aspects of organized athletics cannot be overlooked, the internal benefits are just as powerful. A huge majority of female teen athletes say that playing some type of sport/spirit team generally makes them happier (78%), builds their overall confidence (73%) and helps to relieve stress (69%). “Girls are not just making friends – they are utilizing sports to grow their coping skills and improve their temperament and self-perception,” said Lauchaire.  “Team athletics, such as soccer, cross country and cheerleading, give teen girls a social outlet, a confidence boost and a stress reliever.”

Girls are Stressed and Stretched
While they want and need to be involved, teen girls readily admit to having more stressors than teen boys – they are almost three times more likely to say they feel stressed out “all the time.” The economy and its impact is the dominate concern for teen girls – more so than “teen issues” such as drug abuse, bullying and teen pregnancy. Teen girls are most concerned with issues that have an immediate impact on them, such as getting into college. They have a great deal of anxiety about money, indicating that recent economic conditions may factor into teen concerns. This audience worries about paying for college (71%) and finding a job (58%), more so than issues like teen pregnancy (41%) or date rape (29%).

About the Survey
The teen girl survey was developed by Varsity Brands and the Ketchum Global Research Network (KGRN). The survey was administered online by M/A/R/C Research July 15 - 21, 2010. The total sample has been weighted to be representative of the U.S. population in terms of age, ethnicity, prevalence of cheerleaders and influencers. The margin of error for this total sample is +/- 3% at the 95% confidence level.
The survey sought to find out more about this powerful teen demographic, how they spend their time, how they communicate with friends, what social causes get their attention, how they interact with brands, and much more. Varsity Brands commissioned an online study of 1,016 teen girls ages 13-18 to represent the roughly 14 million teen girls across the United States.

About Varsity
Varsity is the source for all things related to cheerleading and dance team.  With a rich heritage and traditions dating back to 1948, Varsity is an innovative global leader comprised of the leading spirit brands and organizations including its educational camps, clinics, competitions and uniforms to teams around the world. Varsity’s National Championships, which are held at the Walt Disney World® Resorts, have been televised on ESPN Networks for more than 25 years. Web-based Varsity TV features thousands of cheerleading and dance team videos and has become a favorite cheer destination for cheerleaders and coaches alike. Varsity has led the way in cheerleading safety as a supporter of the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators since 1987 and as a camp leader training more than 300,000 cheerleaders per year in cheerleading fundamentals with an emphasis on safety. Based in Memphis, Tennessee, Varsity employs 5,000 employees nationwide.  For more information about Varsity, please visit