Essay, Research Paper: Marketing To Tweens


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Our research into the tween market led to many discoveries about this group of
current and future purchasers. We looked at statistics, marketing approaches,
and responsibilities of those involved with this demographic group. Who are the
tweens, what do they like, and how do they spend their time and money were areas
where we probably gained the most insight from the research. Other areas looked
at included how marketers target tweens, ethical responsibilities involved, what
are the responsibilities of the parents of tweens, and the future of marketing
to tweens. Children between the ages of seven and fourteen make up the consumer
market known as the tweens. About 75% of them have dual-income parents and about
50% of them have divorced parents. The tweens are very brand oriented,
requesting brand-name clothing like Nike, Levi, and Calvin Kline. This group of
young people have a significant amount of money to spend and influence an even
larger amount. A survey of 2.5 million Canadian tweens show that they spend $1.4
billion a year on themselves and influence the buying decisions of their parents
to an astronomical ten times that amount. This age group is an emerging market
for financial services. Many of them already have their own bank accounts and
ATM cards. The top three things the tweens spend money on are food,
entertainment, and clothing. They are influencing family decisions on everything
from what to watch on television to what type of car to purchase. The title of
one of the articles says it all, “Today’s Tweens Are in the Money --$1.5
Billion –and Have Major “Kidfluence” on Household Purchases, Says YTV
Survey.” This generation is media-wise, sophisticated, technically-savvy, and
influential trendsetters who are growing up much quicker than previous
generations. Tweens spend 50% of their waking hours in school and are very
involved in after-school activities. The majority of tweens plan to attend
college and research shows that some are actually saving to help finance their
college education. Today’s kids are putting away the traditional toys like
Barbie and action figures by the age of eight and moving on to what most of us
would consider more adult type entertainment. Fun, friends, and fulfillment are
very important to these children who are interested in music, fashion, video
games, computers, and on-line chat. They frequently socialize with friends via
e-mail instead of face-to-face and some Internet forums offer chats among tweens
only. They are attending concerts and having a direct impact on the popularity
of groups like the Spice Girls. These children are maturing earlier which leads
to earlier sexual activity and struggling with appearance and self-confidence.
The tweens are taking on adult-like responsibilities while still dealing with
normal teen issues. Marketers are spending a lot of time and money targeting the
tweens. As James McNeal, Professor of Marketing at Texas A&M puts it,
“Tweens have more market potential than any other demographic group simply
because they have all their purchases ahead of them.” Marketers are hoping
that by selling these kids on ideas now they will become loyal consumers who
continue to respond to their products. There are many of the typical media such
as television, magazines, in-store advertising, and private label catalogs used
to attract the tweens. However, some marketers are producing products aimed
specifically at tweens. Some of these include cruise lines which offer them
their own program of activities, hair care products targeted at tweens, and the
new Burger King Big Kids Meal which offers more food along with the toy which
research shows is still important to this age group. Marketers realize how
financially powerful this demographic group is and that they need to continue to
focus on reaching them. As marketers target the tweens, they have to keep in
mind the ethical responsibilities that come along with marketing to them. They
must not only get the attention of the children but must also get the buy-in of
the parents. If the marketing aimed at their children is unfair or unduly
enticing, it may result in alienating the parents. Marketers need to avoid
seductive advertising and be careful to protect children’s privacy, especially
when advertising on-line. Another ethical responsibility of marketers is to help
educate young shoppers about financial responsibility. New technologies and
products permit teens to make purchases without credit cards. Online checks,
debit cards, and different types of accounts are a few of the ways children are
gaining the freedom to purchase products. Merchants are taking a risk of a lot
of returned items if these purchases are made without parental consent. The
important thing for marketers to remember is that even though the tweens are the
purchasers of the future, right now they are just children who need guidance and
they must help to develop them into the savvy consumer they want to attract as
adults. Parents need to take responsibility for what their children are doing,
how they spend their time, and what they are purchasing. The first thing parents
need to ask themselves is “Who’s in charge?” If the answer to this is the
parents, then they are off to a pretty good start. It is very important to the
tweens to be heard, so parents can keep the lines of communication open by
asking for their opinions and listening to them. If the children want to go to a
concert, a parent can go along. This is what Stuart Rosenstein, Nickelodeon’s
director had in mind when he sponsored the All That Music and More Festival. As
Rosenstein said, “It’s a family experience. It’s a great thing for parents
to have their first live musical experience with their kids. The great thing
about this festival is we see 11, 12, and 13 year-olds rocking out with their
mothers. To me that’s a success.” Parents should be watching their children
for signs of inappropriate behavior such as early sexual activity and eating
disorders. They also need to reduce the amount of time children spend alone and
closely monitor their activities. Parents need to realize they may not be able
to control how the marketers are targeting their children but they can control
the amount of influence they have on their children. Marketers realize the
tremendous marketing potential youth present and want to find ways to capitalize
on this in the future. They are increasing advertising to tweens as they grow up
and in some unusual ways. In the United States there is a program called
“Channel One” which offers closed-circuit newscast with commercials
included. Marketers use these commercials to promote products while the newscast
teach regular lesson objectives. So, lesson objectives are being met while
absorbing consumer values developed by marketers. As stated earlier tweens,
spend the biggest portion of their time at school, so marketers are taking
advantage of this by infiltrating the school system with product promotions.
Marketers realize that the trend of maturing earlier is likely to continue so
they will keep looking for ways to reach this demographic group of financially
powerful individuals. The research we did opened our eyes to just how
influential this group of seven to fourteen year-olds, known as the tweens, have
become. They influence their parents buying decisions, what products are being
produced, and how marketers are marketing. In-school “hall-talk” plays a big
role in whether new fads, trends, and brands will succeed or not. For these kids
to be successful future consumers, parents and marketers alike need to realize
that they have the responsibility of helping them to learn about financial
responsibility. “Kidfluence” is running rampant and there is no slow down in
sight. So, marketers need to buckle up and settle in for the wild ride of the
future being piloted by the group of young people known as the “TWEENS.”
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