Features

Stuck in the Middle: Tweens search for Identity

November 14, 2005

Eight to 12-year-olds rely on personal products to help give them a sense of identity on the rocky road between childhood and the teen years.

As any parent of an adolescent will attest, the pre-teen group can be very hard to please. Not yet teens, yet no longer small children, the emerging tween (eight to 12-year-old) group has gained recognition in the past few years, and along with that recognition has come purchasing power.

Unfortunately, this group is not so easy to please—but through no fault of their own. A recent workshop sponsored by Gianettino and Merideth, Short Hills, NJ, pointed out the complex and bewildering changes these youngsters are going through, and how their search for identity impacts their buying choices.

“Today, this group has a lot of money, but they’re still influenced by their parents,” pointed out Francine Lytle, vice president, marketing and strategic services, Gianettino and Merideth. The marketing firm offers workshops that deliver insights into its latest research; “The tween scene—how to connect with 8 to 12- year-olds” was held April 30th at the company’s Short Hills office.

One key to reaching tweens is to keep things simple and at the same fast pace that these ever-changing youngsters live their lives. “Everyone’s mind works the same way,” said Ms. Lytle. “We receive data, we create an understandable design out of it and we get meaning out of it.” This process is automatic, so “as a consumer, if it takes me a long time to go through this hierarchy, I will just walk away,” she said.

Advertising that involves fast-paced images that are relatable can work well for this age group. But this does not undermine the fact that these youngsters are brighter and more savvy than ever, Ms. Lytle said. Meanwhile, their wants and even their alliances are shifting so quickly during this transitioning period that it can in fact be broken down into two sub-categories: the “emerging” group (eight to 10-year-olds) and the “transitioning” group (11 to 12-year- olds).

“A 12-year-old has 50% more life experiences than an eight-year-old,” Ms. Lytle said. Kids on the older end of this scale begin to transfer their emotional ties from parents to peers. “At the age of 11, everything these kids once shared with their parents, they now share with their friends.”

Due to these changes, parents can often feel alienated—and away from the control they previously had over their children’s choices and safety.

This conflict between tweens’ need for independence and their parents’ desire to keep them safely within boundaries makes advertising tricky, but it can be done, according to Ms. Lytle. The key is delivering the message from two different viewpoints: one entirely the tween’s, one the parent’s. Gearing an advertisement toward both at the same time simply will not work, she insisted.

For example, Yoplait’s recent Gogurt commercial featuring a skateboarder roaming through a stylized town and “grossing out” adults was a success with kids, she said, and Pepperidge Farm’s Goldfish Colors crackers was a hit with parents with its images of children playing safely and wearing seatbelts. But the Sunny D (Sunny Delight) “brother and sister fight over drink” spot had a weaker influence as it attempted to joke with children while trying to deliver some semblance of control from the mother’s side.

This doesn’t mean that a product can’t satisfy both children and adults; many can and do, Ms. Lytle said. But marketers need to remain sensitive to the strong wants and impulses that both tweens and parents are experiencing when selecting an advertising campaign.

In the end, most tweens successfully survive this trying time, as do their parents. Understanding the psychology that drives both groups can help marketers tremendously.

“When you’re developing an ad campaign for tweens, tell a story,” she said. “Select the gender and age you want to reach, decide what is motivating the tween in the scenario and describe how it’s achieved.” But do it quickly, in images that can immediately be grasped, she advised.

Not an easy order in a 30-second spot, but with the right tools and enough knowledge of this tricky age group, marketers can experience success.
—Melanie Henson, Associate Editor

  • The Good, The Bad Can Get Ugly

    The Good, The Bad Can Get Ugly

    March 28, 2017
    If you are what you eat, you may really be in trouble!

  • It’s Magic!

    It’s Magic!

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||March 20, 2017
    Argan oil-infused ‘Moroccan’ lip care brand jumps from WholeFoods into CVS.

  • On the Cutler Edge

    On the Cutler Edge

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||March 13, 2017
    Top brand source at Redken forecasts up-to-the-minute hair trends.

  • Supply-Side Innovations

    Supply-Side Innovations

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||March 1, 2017
    Raw material suppliers roll up their sleeves and roll out their new products for the global cleaning industry.

  • New Faces in Familiar Places

    New Faces in Familiar Places

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||March 1, 2017
    The American Cleaning Institute officially welcomed its new president.

  • Special Delivery

    Special Delivery

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||March 1, 2017
    UV protection is important, but what good is that sunscreen if consumers won’t apply it?

  • Garden Variety

    Garden Variety

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||March 1, 2017
    Color cosmetics for Spring 2017 are inspired by the beauty of nature and new beginnings.

  • OTC = TLC

    OTC = TLC

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||March 1, 2017
    Over-the-counter treatments provide consumers’ skin and hair with extra care.

  • The Green Dot

    The Green Dot

    John Kim and Lambros Kromidas, PhD*, Shiseido Americas||March 1, 2017
    Insights into one of the most used trademarks in the world.

  • An Essential Read

    An Essential Read

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||March 1, 2017
    Industry expert Nadim Shaath takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the history and the future of essential oils.

  • Sustainability, Brexit and AI Are in Focus at In-Cosmetics

    Sustainability, Brexit and AI Are in Focus at In-Cosmetics

    March 1, 2017
    In-Cosmetics Global 2017 will take place in London, April 4-6, 2017

  • Trade Association Directory 2017

    February 2, 2017
    Contact details of trade associations that serve various segments of our industry and are mentioned frequently in Happi.

  • What the Halal  Is Going On?

    What the Halal Is Going On?

    Imogen Matthews , In-Cosmetics||February 2, 2017
    Demand for these beauty products is surging thanks to a fastgrowing Muslim population.

  • Relief for Sensitive Scalps

    Relief for Sensitive Scalps

    Guadalupe Pellon and Annette Mehling , BASF||February 2, 2017
    BASF researchers detail the attributes of the company’s highly effective hair care system focusing on scalp sensitivity.

  • What’s in Style?

    What’s in Style?

    Melissa Meisel , Associate Editor||February 1, 2017
    The latest sprays, gels, mousses, serums and creams for hair are filled with luxury components and meet a variety of needs

  • Defining Clean Skin

    Defining Clean Skin

    Nava Dayan PhD, Dr. Nava Dayan LLC||February 1, 2017
    A look at the issues, research and history surrounding this controversial topic.

  • Linked In

    Linked In

    Christine Esposito , Associate Editor||February 1, 2017
    Through virtual reality, apps and connected devices, beauty and personal care brands can strengthen their customer relations

  • Hitting the Right Notes

    Hitting the Right Notes

    January 6, 2017
    Agilex Fragrances is the leader in the middle market fragrance category.

  • The Smell of Clean in 2017

    The Smell of Clean in 2017

    January 6, 2017
    Changing consumer lifestyles and demographics are impacting the scents found in the household cleaning category.

  • On the Edge

    On the Edge

    January 6, 2017
    Expanding beauty brands to watch in 2017

  • A New Contender?

    A New Contender?

    January 6, 2017
    Detergent sales are up, innovation continues and Henkel is determined to make it a dogfight in the segment.

  • Engagement 2016

    Engagement 2016

    January 6, 2017
    CSPA convenes in Fort Lauderdale for annual meeting.

  • Slow & Steady

    Slow & Steady

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||December 1, 2016
    In a tumultuous environment, steady gains posted in the industrial and institutional cleaning sector are welcomed.

  • The World Comes to Orlando

    The World Comes to Orlando

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||December 1, 2016
    More than 1,600 chemists traveled to Florida for the IFSCC Congress

  • The Plex Phenomenon

    The Plex Phenomenon

    Denise Costrini, Croda North America||December 1, 2016
    Croda details the hair-protecting qualities of bond multipliers and the company’s new bond-building formulation system.

  • New Hair Care Ingredients

    December 1, 2016
    Check out the latest releases from suppliers.

  • Hair & Now

    Hair & Now

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor ||December 1, 2016
    The shampoo and conditioner category is expanding with modern takes on these classic formulations.

  • Perform or Perish

    Perform or Perish

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||December 1, 2016
    Success in today’s skin care sector begins with active ingredients, formulated in products that address modern-day issues.