Creating a lasting dialogue with Tweens

Would you believe that Tweens — usually defined as 8 to 12 year olds — have an overall purchasing power of $260 billion dollars annually? Between their own personal, disposable income of around $11 billion and the $250 billion directly spent on Tweens by their parents on things such as holiday gifts and school clothes, this massive monetary force is a noteworthy fact for retailers and marketers. (, January 2005)

According to a recent article, around 87% of 10-14 year-old web crawlers go online three times a day. With money burning holes in their pockets, the Tween group turns to the Internet with 40% collecting information about purchases they want to make utilizing mostly Google (78% compared to the 14% who use Yahoo). From those searches, over a third reported that their online efforts yielded results that had “extreme impact” on their purchases. (, July 2008)

The success of Tween-centric media such as Hannah Montana, “High School Musical”, and the Jonas Brothers exemplifies that not only have Tweens become a sizable, distinct demographic, but also that many marketers have already taken aim at this influential group. Questioning the proper way to communicate with Tweens reveals an ethical conundrum. The line retailers and marketers walk is extraordinarily thin: we want to create a dialog with Tweens rather than executing the usual competitive sales techniques.

The most important idea for retailers and marketers to note is that tween shoppers are no different than their adult counterparts in many ways: both want their messages hassle-free, informative, and respectful, though Tween consumers are more drawn to music and humor rather than rebellion, angst, sex, and cynicism. And they value their privacy: Tweens want e-mails kept to a considerate minimum and do not want to be bombarded by marketing gathering questions. It’s clear that the conversations we start with Tweens today will mean the difference between establishing a lasting dialog with or alienating this influential group for years to come.

– Contributed by Alli Sands