The 'tweens' demographic (youngsters aged 9 to 14) have been identified as being firmly entrenched consumers, significantly swaying adults' buying decisions on big-ticket purchases that affect the whole family, according to the 'June 2005 Tween Report' from Youth Intelligence, sponsored by Nickelodeon.
According to the report's survey data, tweens receive an average of US$9.15 per week allowance ('pocket money'). Youth Intelligence notes that these money-savvy tweens are often saving with the intention of accumulating enough money to make a significant (and often technology-related) purchase in the near future. In fact, tweens reported spending an average of US$27.00 of their own money on their last shopping trip.
But while tweens wield a great deal of power over lots of household purchases, they still rely on their parents to pay for necessities, such as clothing, food, room decor and toiletries. The canny tweens can then use their savings for non-necessities in the categories of entertainment, technology and fashion.
The Wise Marketer has heard it said that "if you can't work out how your VCR works, ask a teenager". That still rings true, it seems. Tech-savvy tweens exert a surprisingly high degree of influence on technology purchasing, with many tweens claiming that their parents actively seek their advice in this category - more than 40% of tweens say they have influence on their family's computer purchases.
And, as they progress toward their teenage years, they also have decision making power in other purchases affecting the whole family: 78% have influence over family food shopping and 79% say they influence family vacation choices - a purchase that can be worth several thousand dollars.
But they have the most say in purchases for themselves. For example, nearly 3 out of 4 tweens have "a lot of say" when it comes to buying clothes for themselves. Girls strongly influence purchasing decisions on buying clothes, which movies to rent or to see at the cinema, and which music CDs to buy, while boys exert their influence on parents most when it comes to which TV shows to watch and video games or systems to buy.
Tweens today seem to know exactly what they want, and even have the money - whether it's their own or their parents' - to go out and get it. The influence of these young consumers shows no sign of slowing, either, according to the survey. When it comes to tweens making their opinions felt, their parents are definitely listening.
The report is the result of two concurrent studies, both conducted in April 2005. The first was a telephone survey of 400 respondents aged 9-14, structured so that ages and ethnicities are nationally representative. The second consisted of ten focus groups conducted among tweens and two focus groups among tween educators or coaches in Houston (Texas), Chicago (Illinois) and Inglewood (California).