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4 Stats That Show Prom Is A Thing In Western Europe, Too

May 31 2022

Prom may be an American tradition, but it’s made its way to Western Europe, too. These four stats show just how many are celebrating…


TL;DR

  • With culture becoming increasingly globalized, prom (or at least end-of-year school dances) has become a recent tradition in Western European countries
  • Though there are fewer prom celebrations in Western Europe, a higher percentage of young Europeans are planning to attend than North Americans
  • Young Europeans are turning to social media for outfit inspiration—and to show off their own school dance looks

Since its creation in the 1950s, prom has been a central component of the teen experience in America—and, of course, teen movies. From Sixteen Candles to High School Musical to Euphoria, decades of teen content have shown prom as the pinnacle event of high school, reinforcing it as an essential teenage rite of passage. But as culture becomes increasingly globalized thanks to the internet and social media (see YPulse’s Borderless Culture trend report) these depictions have not only inspired young Americans’ dreams of the final dance, but also young Europeans’. Now, prom is a global phenomenon: more than 85% of schools in Britain now have a prom, according to the British Council, despite the tradition being just 15 years old in the region. Meanwhile, secondary schools in other European countries host their own version of prom: Germans throw the Abiball, a dance to celebrate the end of exams, while in Spain they celebrate “fiestas de graduación,” or school-wide “graduation parties.”

YPulse has long tracked young Americans’ interest in prom, and this year, the rite of passage is making a comeback. Now, for the first time, we’re checking out just how important this American tradition is among young Europeans. Our recent survey asked teens in the U.K., Italy, Germany, Spain, and France about their plans for prom/school party/Abiball–here are four stats that tell the story:

The majority of European secondary school students say it’s important to go to prom/school party/Abiball.

Whether they call it prom or not, a full 68% of secondary school students in Western Europe say going to their end-of-year school dance is important, making clear that this tradition is a big deal across the Atlantic, too. In fact, young Europeans are +10pts more likely than their North American counterparts to say that it’s important to them, which could suggest that prom is actually becoming more prominent outside of its homeland than in. Unsurprisingly, young females care the most about prom, with 74% saying it’s important for them to go. Meanwhile, young German and Spanish consumers are the most likely to say that prom is important to them (82% and 84%, respectively), while young Italians care the least—60% say the tradition is important to them, which is on par with young North Americans’ interest in it.

And two in five secondary school students plan to go this year. 

Just over half (51%) of young European secondary school students say their school is planning to host prom this year, which is much lower than in North America, where 77% of high schoolers report that their school will host the dance. But that said, young Europeans are far more likely to say they plan to go (41%) compared to young North Americans (30%). To put that into perspective, 80% of young Europeans who have the opportunity to attend prom will go while just 39% of young North Americans in the same boat will. That means young Europeans are twice as likely to be attending prom this year, essentially wiping out the idea that this tradition is an American-specific rite of passage. Of course, not all young Europeans will be attending prom at the same rate. While just 27% of French secondary school students say they plan to attend this year, 60% of Spanish consumers will.

Half are turning to social media for outfit inspiration.

Much like in North America, having the perfect outfit is an important part of young Europeans’ prom experience, and (unsurprisingly) they’re turning to social media for inspiration: 50% of all young Europeans say they’re getting ideas from social media, which jumps up to 55% among young females. While Instagram is the top platform they’re turning to, TikTok is a close second—and a major source of prom trends. The #prom hashtag has a whopping 10.7 billion views, with many TikTokers showing off their looks, how they get ready for the big day, and playing off of trends. This year, Pinterest’s 2022 prom trends report revealed that The Great Gatsby and Euphoria are the leading sources of fashion inspiration for teens. And with Europhoria being a top show in Western Europe, too, it’s likely young Europeans are also pulling inspiration from the show for their big night.

And three in ten will share pics and videos of their outfit on social media.

On top of getting their inspiration from social media, young Europeans are using prom as an opportunity to dazzle on their feeds: 29% say they’re interested in sharing their outfit on social media, making it the top prom-related thing they’re interested in doing. This is even higher among young females, 36% of whom want to post their look, and highest in Spain, where 52% will be sharing their dresses and tuxes. Clearly, prom is an important tradition in Western Europe, and with so many young Europeans making social media a part of it, brands have an opportunity to tap into prom trends and content to reach these young consumers.

YPulse Western Europe Business users can access the full WE Summer Plans behavioral report and data here.

Don’t have a YPulse Western Europe Business account? Find out more here.

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