The teen transition: Adolescents of today, adults of tomorrow

Young adults are a crucial segment for businesses and advertisers. As the 18-24-year-old demographic expands faster than any other young age group, so does its viewing and purchasing power. Today's 17-year-olds will play a significant role in the young adult segment of the future, which is why it's crucial to get to know them now in order to better understand who they'll be tomorrow.

Who are today's teens?

Today's teens and young adults are quite the multicultural bunch—with purchasing power to boot. In fact, the 12-17, 18-24 and 25-34 groups are almost identically multicultural, as 42 percent of each comprises Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans. This is only the tip of the iceberg—U.S. Census data shows that African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanics will generate the vast majority of the U.S. population growth over the next few decades.

Teens have serious purchase potential. In 2012, 29 percent of U.S. teens lived in high-income homes ($100k+), while only 25 percent of young adults lived in households within this same income bracket. There were also more teen households with middle incomes ($30k-$100k) than those of young adults. Finally, fewer teens lived in lower-income homes ($30k) than their slightly older counterparts.

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