Betwixt and Be Tween

Tips for Marketing to the Coveted Tween Demographic

They’re smart. They’re full of attitude. They’re tech-savvy. They’re on the cutting edge of, well, everything. They wield tremendous purchasing power — up to $200 billion a year by some estimates[1] — but they can’t even drive themselves to the mall. They’re “tweens,” and they’re a perpetual paradox for parents and marketers alike.

Merriam-Webster defines “tweens” as adolescents ages 11 and 12, while Macmillan stretches the age range to 10 to 12, and Bloomberg cites marketers who stretch it even further, to 8 to 14[2]. In any case, marketers are talking to impressionable young people caught between childhood and their fully developed teenage personas. These young people want to be seen as mature. While they strive for independence, many also focus on fitting in with their peers. And while they hold strong opinions about what’s hot and what’s not, they often have very short attention spans. To get — and keep — tween customers, brands need to rethink their approach.

Get on Their Level
Tweens constantly experiment with different styles, discovering new interests and trying on new personas, so you’re going to have to work a little harder to stay on top of fast-changing trends. Immerse yourself in the media, music and social platforms that are engaging tweens and helping to shape their behavior. Forget Facebook and Twitter. Think Sweety High and Instagram.

Keep It Real
Don’t be deceived: This group may be young, but tweens are incredibly sophisticated when it comes to advertising. They quickly recognize pandering, and they don’t like to be talked down to. They respond to simple, straightforward messages that respect their intelligence and reflect their interests.

Keep it Fun
This generation cut their teeth on smartphones and tablets, and they spend hours every day online, playing games, watching videos, downloading music and messaging friends, usually all at the same time. These consummate multitaskers get inundated with ads, so marketers need to rise above the noise with entertaining and original content. The best way to get their attention? Colorful graphics, interactive games and videos.

Don’t Forget the Parents
While tweens may know what they want and why they want it, they still need their parents’ approval on most purchases. So find that sweet spot that attracts tweens without turning off their parents. Watch inappropriate images or language that might cause parents to ban your products from their tweens forever.

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Important Legal Disclosures and Information

  1. “Tweens ‘R Shoppers: A Look at the Tween Market & Shopping Behaviors,” POPAI (Point of Purchase Advertising International), March 2013, found here:

  2. “Marketing and Tweens,” Bloomberg, Oct. 25, 2005, found here:

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