Today's teens and tweens (aged 8 to 18) may be lucrative, but they're also elusive and fickle customers and, according to a report available from Research & Markets, reaching them means recognising not only that their lifestyles change rapidly but also that age is very significant within this lucrative segment.
The 'Marketing to Teens & Tweens' report explains that these young consumers have a variety of lifestyles that morph into and out of each other, changing in an instant, though not necessarily in a manner that is perceptible to anyone outside their immediate circles of friends.
Marketers who want to target this group also need to learn a host of new languages and communication styles, from text messaging to 'Spanglish', as well as embracing new technologies wholeheartedly, no matter how short-lived they look like they will be.
The bottom line, the report suggests, is that marketers, like the parents of this complex generation of youngsters, will forever be keeping up with yesterday's trend just as 'The Next Big Thing' takes off. Staying ahead of this steep learning curve means reviewing data, reassessing brand promotions, studying media usage trends, and linking all of these information streams to both social and technological trends.
The report's overall message for marketers targeting teens and tweens is that teens and tweens are very different from each other. While many characteristics and trends extend across all ages within the teen and tween markets, by most measures the two groups are distinct.
Teens, for example, are more independent than tweens in their behaviour and are less reliant on their parents when it comes to day-to-day decisions. Teens are beginning to develop the characteristics and behaviours of adulthood, while tweens still share many traits with their younger siblings.
On the other hand, families are more important to tweens in terms of their social lives as well, and safety is still a greater concern for them because they are not ready to face some of the issues that teens have to deal with.
One thing that is common to both groups is that they like to be perceived as individuals while, at the same time, fitting in with their peers. In general, however, the teens skew more toward the individual and tweens more toward the group.
Another important difference, the report notes, is that teens tend to have earned the money they spend, which makes them far more price-sensitive than tweens (who still have money to spend, but they normally receive most of it through an allowance or a gift).
When it comes to loyalty, tweens tend to be more brand-loyal and teens more brand-apathetic. Technology is an integral part of life, too. To both tweens and teens, technological innovation and obsolescence are the norm, and technology infuses all aspects of their lives, from accessing entertainment and news to researching potential purchases, doing school work, and of course maintaining friendships.
But more importantly, teens and tweens welcome advertising messages through all types of devices. Indeed, not only do they accept the concept of being reached anywhere, anytime, but they actually expect it and are often delighted by it.
Don't forget that today's teens and tweens have never known a time when TV was their primary entertainment device. Among teens and young adults, 84% surf the web during their leisure time, and this is their top leisure activity. Television ranks fourth, and becomes even less important with age (with only 60% of teens saying they love TV compared to 80% of tweens). Interestingly, if teens were forced to choose whether to give up cable TV, the internet, or their mobile phone, 48% said they would rather live without cable TV.
According to the report, the critical attributes common to successful teen and tween marketing campaigns include:
- The opportunity to personalise, customise and self-create (e.g. user-generated content);
- A means for them to network and communicate, and to organically generate word-of-mouth;
- A reflection of their need to multitask and receive content through multiple media;
- A concession to their 24/7, on-the-go lifestyle through portability, on demand access and convenience;
- A personal touch through experiential marketing support;
- The integration of music and entertainment into all facets of a campaign;
- An acknowledgement of their parents as allies rather than as adversaries.