of Business Communications Feature
The "Tween" Market
The "tween" market represents a whole new marketing challenge -- and opportunity -- for retailers and marketers. Defined by Associate Professor Cele Otnes as "kids ages 8-12," the tween market has approximately $14 billion in annual spending power. That spending power comes from real funds (allowances or birthday gifts) controlled by the youngsters or from their influence in the family. For marketers and retailers, this population represents an huge opportunity to build brand recognition and loyalty.
Otnes' Principles of Retailing course (BA 212) isn't missing a beat in challenging students to better understand this market and the youngsters who populate it. The semester-long final project for the student teams is to "create and flesh out the newest retail concept, from scratch." Otnes serves as a venture capitalist looking for a new, innovative retail concept with nationwide appeal to tweens. Examples of retail concepts that have successfully targeted this age group include Build A Bear, Paint Your Own Pottery, and the American Girl Store.
Proof that the tween market is hot and interest is high was demonstrated in late September when the local Champaign NBC affiliate, WICD, sent a news team to campus for an interview with Otnes and a few of her students. The story, which aired on October 1, 2002, used footage from in-class exercises as well as interviews with Otnes and marketing seniors Natalie Kong (below, right) and Beau Sierens (below, left). Local anchor Jennifer Broeker was joined by cameraman Mike Davison for the interviews.
Sierens' team is considering a special furniture store "like an IKEA but stand-alone" that will give tweens a chance to establish an identity by furnishing and designing their rooms at home. Kong is on a team developing ideas for technology for girls. One concept under detailed consideration is a picture store where tweens can take a snapshot, manipulate the image, and then frame the final product.