The next generation traveler is always a topic of great interest in the travel industry (see here and here). And the latest stats coming from the United States are intriguing: teens are turning away from Facebook and choosing Twitter and Instagram as their most important social network.
This not only bodes well for Twitter's impending IPO, but demonstrates how the shifting winds of social impacts marketing strategies for the travel industry.
Certainly, most teens are not currently purchasing travel. However, if their attention is shifting to Twitter, this is going to be significant as they begin graduating into college and become early-stage travel consumers.
The cycle for shifting resources from one network to another is generally 3-5 years. Consumers start investing time in creating profiles, and they are reluctant to switch as the content inventory builds up. This is why Facebook maintains traction - it acts as a repository for so much of people's lives.
If Twitter begins capturing the mind share of today's American teens, this means that Twitter will be the best avenue to reach them in the next 3-5 years, just as they graduate into actually purchasing some travel themselves.
The data comes from Piper Jaffray, and shows a waning interest in Facebook:
"More than half of teens indicate that social media impacts their purchases with Twitter being the most important, eclipsing Facebook, followed closely by Instagram. But the popularity of Facebook is waning among teens with 23% citing it as the most important, down from 33% six months ago and 42% a year ago."
All is not lost for Facebook however, as the purchase of Instagram continues to pay dividends. Instagram is growing in popularity, even among teens, with an impressive 11% growth in the last year.
It's also important to note that Twitter's popularity was flat - it's really Facebook's game to lose, with a more even spread across networks occurring rapidly over the past year.
Other points of interest include a continued focus on value, and an overwhelming preference to search and spend online: "Approximately 78% of females and 82% of males shop online, and respondents indicated that a mid-teens percentage of their spending is online."
All of these data points have implications for travel marketers looking at the next generation traveler, and are vital leading indicators of consumption and marketing preferences of the next decade of young adults.
The survey is a semi-annual project that surveys 8,650 teens with an average age of 16.2 years.
NB: Teenager image courtesy Shutterstock.