Market Focus: Tweens
The Between Market
To be a “tween” is to be part child and part teen. This is an adventurous and often challenging time for pre-adolescents who are becoming more self-aware and starting to reach for more independence.
But it’s important to remember that the word tween is a marketing term used to help define this audience, explains Kristen Harmeling, partner, Yankelovich Youth MONITOR/Yankelovich MONITOR, a New York marketing consultancy specializing in lifestyle trends and customer-targeting solutions.
You won’t find tween listed as a developmental stage, says Harmeling.
As such, one marketer’s definition of a tween can differ slightly from another’s. For example, Harmeling offers, an electronics marketer might characterize tweens as children between the ages of 12 and 15, while a snack food company might classify 8-year-olds to 12-year-olds as tweens.
On the whole, most marketers agree that tweens fall somewhere between 8 and 12 years of age. For the purposes of this article, that’s the measure we’ll use as a basis for comparison.
How Big Is the Market?
According to the most recent U.S. Census, the tween market numbers 20.9 million.
And while the majority of this group has yet to start doing odd jobs, such as mowing yards and baby-sitting, to earn income, it still wields a considerable amount of spending power. The 2003 Yankelovich Youth MONITOR study—based on interviews with 748 8-year-olds to 12-year-olds—reports $20 billion in annual income for tweens. They receive this money from gifts, allowances, extra spending money given by a parent (for, say, going to the movies) and payments for picking up extra chores around the house.
In addition, tweens greatly influence household spending, says Tracy Donohue, director of sales and marketing, Mal Dunn Associates Inc., a list brokerage and management firm in Brewster, NY. This influence represents another $170 billion in spending power, according to research conducted by one of Mal Dunn’s clients that serves the tween market.