The Tween Consumer Marketing Model: Significant Variables and Recommended Research Hypotheses

By Prince, Diane; Martin, Nora | Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, July 2012 | Go to article overview

The Tween Consumer Marketing Model: Significant Variables and Recommended Research Hypotheses


Prince, Diane, Martin, Nora, Academy of Marketing Studies Journal


INTRODUCTION

Generational differences have been commonly used in market segmentation and niche marketing for very successful marketing campaigns. A generation is defined by certain determinations such as dramatic events or shifts which form a common set of values within the generation. This paper is focused on the "Tween" segment, a subset of the X generation (Lindstrom & Seybold, 2003) or a subset of the Z generation (Williams, Page, Petrosky & Hernandez, 2009). The "tween" marketing segment has been gaining in popularity as a topic of study due to its phenomenal growth and buying power. The "tween" is a user of social media (some even call them the V or virtual generation since they are so involved in technology (Fraser & Dutta, 2008) and consider them to be a "global phenomenon" (Lindstrom & Seybold, 2003). Globalization of tween buying trends may be related to their watching TV, which many see as the creator of the global trend referred to as the "McDonaldization" effect (Chang, 2007, Lemish, 2007; Ritzer, 2009; Hawkins et al., 2010, Hamm, 2007). Tweens are a more powerful generation then past generations since they are a triple opportunity to marketers--"a primary market, an influencing market and a future market" (Norgaard, Bruns, Christensen & Mikkelsen 2007, 197). It is important to study the characteristics, values and attitudes of the "tween" segment to understand how these values influence purchasing decisions. When retailers and marketers capture the values of tweens and wed those to the buying of their products or the retail experience (such as the American Girl Place), it can be explosive (Borghini et al., 2009).

REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

The literature review can be divided into the following areas: 1) definitions and characteristics of tweens; 2) global or localized trends for tweens; 3) negative impacts or ethics of advertising to tweens 4) branding of tweens and 5) tweens as influencers.

Definitions and Characteristics of Tweens

Tweens are defined as 9-12 year olds by marketing practitioners. Estimated at $1.5 billion in disposable income, tweens are a sizeable direct market and they are a market which companies hope to start early with brand loyalty. They are described as hyper brand conscious (in areas of cosmetics, music, apparel, consumer electronics, and film), spend a lot of time with peers and are peer influenced. They grow up faster, are more connected, more direct, more informed, have more personal power, more money, more influence and attention than previous generations (Lindstrom & Seybold, 2003, 1). Tweens do influence family buying patterns, for example, in grocery purchasing they influence parents to buy food products that the tweens can prepare for themselves since they are easy and quick. Tweens want to be catered to and they want a coupon or free gift or to be amused or entertained. Since tweens are on the computer and hit (click through rates high) banner ads more often than adults, marketers are beginning to capitalize on their behavior through social media advertising. As suggested by Sims (2000), to be effective companies need to get on net, offer free things and customize to tweens.

In the academic world, most researchers have defined "tweens" as 8-12 year olds (Andersen, Tufte, Rasmussen, & Chan, 2007), some describe them more widely as 8-14 year olds (Lindstrom, 2004; Maughan, 2002) and others narrowly as 11-12 year olds (Dibley & Baker, 2001). The "tween" term refers to the concept of being "in-between" a child and a teen, which is not necessarily tied to a particular age, but rather connected to a state of mind or behaviors. This schizophrenic existence causes a "split personality" between acting as a kid and taking on the actions and values of a teenager (Siegel et al., 2004). To complicate definitions further, some researchers note the "kids grow old younger" or KGOY phenomenon, which states that kids are maturing faster than in previous decades or generations (Cook & Kaiser, 2004). …

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