Tweens now occupy a top spot in minds of product marketers

USA Today recently reported on the growing youth marketing industry, with a focus on tweens from ages 7 to 14.

USA Today recently reported on the growing youth marketing industry, with a focus on tweens from ages 7 to 14.

The paper says tweens, which are part of Generation Y, are seen as a more important group for retailers and marketers because of their spending power and their influence over what their parents buy. Market research firm NPD Group found that tween girls spent $11.5 billion on apparel in the last year, up from $10.5 billion in 2004. 

"The tween is such a great kid to market to because he or she is far smarter than younger children, and is able to be abstract and understand selling messages," says Dave Siegel, president of youth marketing firm WonderGroup. Teens care for themselves and have money to buy things, but tweens are the ones who are looking out for household products, cars, and more, he says.

Why does it matter?

"Moms are relying on their kids more than ever," says Siegel. Parents are including their kids, especially tweens, in making the executive decision on which household products to purchase, with an influence factor of at least 40%, he explains.

Today's moms want to please their kids, but more than that, they value their kids' opinions because they are so much more connected now through the Internet.

"Kids are smarter, savvier, and growing [more sophisticated at a] younger age," Siegel says, adding that tweens even influence what moms wear.

The key trait of a tween is the need to belong. "They are not so much looking to be in the 'in crowd,' but more fearful of being excluded," notes Siegel. The number-one reason for a tween to try a new product is if the group has tried it first, he adds.

He says PR pros must realize that today's tweens are savvy and also skeptical about marketing because of teachers who warn against fraudulent Web messages. They are much more "show me and I'll believe you" and big on word of mouth, he adds.

Five facts:

1. WonderGroup reports that kid influence on items bought for them is in the 80%-90% range, with the highest influence on DVDs and music.

2. According to Alloy Media & Marketing, tweens independently spend $30 billion, and they influence an additional $600 billion of family spending.

3. Of the 26 million tweens in 2009, iGillottResearch forecasts that 4 million will be using their own cell phones, according to a previous BusinessWeek article.

4. Yankelovich Youth Monitor reports that 72% of 6- to 8-year-olds and 56% of 9- to 11-year-olds ask their parents to buy things they see in TV commercials.

5. According to McNeal & Kids Youth Marketing Consultants, children are able to recognize brands from the age of about 18 months.

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