Creating niches in the market has always worked well to expand sale opportunities and when marketers separated the traditional kids category, aged 2–11 into four specific demographics – toddlers (0–2), preschoolers (3–5), children (6–9) and Pre Teens or Tweens (10–12), the result was an increase in sales in all segments with more focussed products to suit the fast growing sensibility of children. Among these sub-groups the most difficult to understand and satisfy is the ‘tweens’, where children are just opening up to the world around them and discovering fashion.
The term ‘Tweens’ generally used to describe individuals who are not yet teenagers but, are not kids either, is the new lucrative market for retailers struggling to find segments that are fast moving. With 20 million tweens in the US today, and numbers projected to hit 23 million by the year 2020 as per the US Census, tweens are a majority that cannot be ignored. Further, as average weekly allowances have gone up from the average $ 5 in 2009 to $ 12 each, this segment has an annual spending capacity of $ 43 billion dollars of their own and with another $ 150 billion of spending directly on them by their parents, the business market for tweens is both big and profitable.
Past buying patterns also show that girls of age from 7-14, spent nearly $ 10.5 billion on apparel alone in 2004, and the spending rose to $ 11.5 billion in 2010. From being picky to what brands they wear to how they dress, nothing and no amount of pieces are ever enough for this generation, making purchases more than any other segment of kids. At a tender age, tweens are easily influenced by the simplest things, advertisements, messages, television, social causes and peer pressure making this market very happening and fashion forward.
Marketing to this section has always been tricky as finding a compromise that satisfies both the needs of tweens who want to dress up in their own unique style as young adults and the actual buyers – the parents – who want their kids to stay kids as long as possible is a real challenge. After numerous efforts made in the past, retailers have now understood the true need of this market segment and started to create products tailored specifically to their needs and interest.
Some successful brands for tweens
Some brands have found their way to success and know exactly what to deliver, when it comes to satisfying both the kids and their parents. Justice for Girls, a tween clothing brand that features clothing and accessories that most tweens find hip and in style has a clothing that is both cute and mature. And with big sales going on often at the outlets, even the parents don’t feel the pinch. The popular teen brand Forever 21 also provides a good collection for tweens, though the brand offers more for an older tween than a younger one at affordable prices. Aeropostale, the cool tween/teen brand features clothing in sizes apt for the tweens at affordable prices.
Isabee Tweens, a less well-known brand than the others, offers fun and fashionable clothing and unique looks suitable for the tweens at a higher price bracket. Abercrombie, offering smaller sizes in addition to the adult ones, is a tween/teen brand that has gained praises and popularity in recent years, though a little expensive the garments are well tailored and durable.
What works well for this segment…
As the excitement of internet, cell phones and technology is pretty new for these kids, garments that are fun, interactive and have colours, work well for this market and is liked by both the parents and kids. Driven by imitation, tweens like to wear clothes from retailers offering similar apparel as the teens, which also make the tween retailer’s job easier as they can follow popular trends from the teen market and create pieces which are similar but, more modest. With a more compassionate attitude towards environment and people, tweens tend to buy anything with a social message as well. While teens have dozens of retailers catering to them with clothes ranging from preppy to Goth to skateboard style, tweens shop for now in a much narrower range and outside of department and mass-merchandise stores; their specialty store choices are largely limited.
Despite all the challenges being faced by the retailers, most of the brands want to hook kids as early as possible, making them a regular, which is well explained from the tween lines from the likes of Lucky Brand Jeans, J. Crew and Juicy Couture; success of tween lines like those of Selena Gomez (a tween idol) and new tween lines coming soon from Ashlee and Jessica Simpson and Tommy Hilfiger.