What are Tweens?
When it comes to marketing and demographics, children roughly between the ages of 8 and 14 have become a potentially lucrative customer base known as tweens. Tweens are considered to be "in between" the traditional child and teenager stages of development. Many see themselves as trendy and fashionable junior versions of their adolescent siblings, not children dependent on their parents' sensibilities. Marketers are especially interested in their lifestyles, because brand loyalty often begins during this stage.
Many elements of modern popular culture have actually been studied through the eyes of tweens first. It is not unusual for a motion picture company to recruit kids this age as test audiences for upcoming releases. If the movie can hold the attention of notoriously fickle tweens, then it may have a successful general release. If they dislike a movie, however, their opinions and criticisms could lead to rewrites and re-editing. The same holds true with other pop culture consumables such as video games, music and toys.
Tween culture is also fueled by celebrity. This kids still read fanzines filled with young, attractive musicians and movie stars. They also read their older siblings' magazines, which means marketing experts spend a great deal of time and money creating advertising geared towards the younger set. The use of highly sexualized images of model tweens and the emphasis on "coolness" has become controversial over the years. Certain cigarette companies have been known to create cartoon characters which appeal primarily to males of this age. Clothing catalogs have also featured tweens in sexually provocative poses as part of campaigns aimed at a younger consumer base.
Young people this age do have a significant amount of buying power, although their sources of income are generally limited to the generosity of their parents. Many receive a generous allowance, but they are not old enough to earn their own income. This is why so many marketing and advertising companies attempt to infiltrate their ranks. If a tween only has enough money to buy one pair of jeans, for instance, which brand would he or she choose? Do they discuss new products with others? Is a particular product popular with tweens, or is it already on its way out? Some analysts see kids this age as the barometer of trendiness, but trends and fads often end before industries can tap into them.
Some say the tweens are the new teenagers, since they also view themselves as independent and mature individuals. A 10-year-old girl today often faces the same self-esteem and body image issues faced by a 15 year old teenager only a generation ago. Kids this age have literally grown up with technologies their parents only experienced as adults. They often seek immediate gratification, which is another problem faced by marketers and advertisers. Brands targeted towards tweens should deliver what they promise instantly or risk becoming unpopular just as quickly.
For those who are of a young age, do you agree with me? While I wouldn't exactly call myself "young", I still agree to quite a large extent.
I mean, some adults seem to think that all teenagers are unruly, just because a few people ruin it for everyone else. In my opinion, there are two sides of the extreme that need to be fixed.
Teens need to stop being so unruly, but on the other hand, adults need to stop stereotyping, and assuming that all tweens are into rap and hip hop, and violence.
Using one example is the video game Call of Duty. Just because there are quite a few teens who are obsessed with shooting games, that doesn't mean it's the case for everyone.
There needs that level between extremes, where one realizes that not all teens are bad, but they're also willing to ensure that this teenage generation has quite a long way to go.
At the risk of sounding like I'm stereotyping, when it comes to tweens, one thing I feel that's most dangerous about them, is how more than often, they tend to look up to their favorite celebrities and pop stars, especially in this day and age.
While it's definitely not always a bad thing, on the other hand, what if that celebrity ends up being a bad influence on the teenager?
For example, there are many celebrities who claim to have the "perfect" body, and they try to get others from the "crowd" to follow their example.
A bit more of an extreme example, but what if someone's "idol" is a lesbian (Raven Symone), and others decide to follow her example of becoming one and speaking out.
If a tween happens to be in this crowd, it's possible that they could end up going on an extreme diet, as a means to follow their idol. In this generation, it's definitely important that parents make sure that their children (tweens) are following good examples of roles models.
I mean, just look at the girl in the skimpy outfit above. Definitely not a good example of someone you should follow.
Does anyone feel that in this day and age of media, there are way too many shows that are trying to appeal to tweens? I first noticed this trend a few years ago, but nowadays, it seems like it's becoming more and more prominent.
For example, does anyone remember how Disney Channel used to feature shows for people of all ages, and even more so, classic cartoons like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck?
However, if you were to visit the channel in this day and age, you would be hard pressed to find anything of that sort. In the past years, we've seen this through all of the sitcoms such as That's So Raven, Hannah Montana, and even Phil of the Future.
However, as much as I disagree with how these newer stations are targeting tweens, in some ways, I feel that it makes sense,
After all, in the 1990's there are many children growing and watching their favorite cartoons. However, as they get older, the stations realize that those "kids" will begin to outgrow their favorite programs, and they feel the need to create shows that are going to highly appeal to those older generations. In the long run, it actually works, somewhat.
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