Tween phenomenon

Tween phenomenon

Dr Margaret-Anne Lawlor

Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift and Zac Efron have all become household names largely due to the fervent support of the tween market. Largely ascribed to JRR Tolkien, the label describes the ‘in between' age span of about eight to 12 years during which the tween is approaching the end of childhood and the start of the teenage years. Statistics vary regarding the size of this market but one figure placed tweens' spending power in the US at $51 billion last year.

To assess the power of tweens in elevating products and personalities into global brands, look no further than the success of Disney's Hannah Montana: the Movie. Disney must be rubbing its hands in glee as the movie, a spin-off from the highly popular Hannah Montana TV series, has taken over $75 million at the US box office.

Starring Miley Cyrus, 16, whom Time described her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, the movie continues the dual identity story of Miley Stewart, a high school student by day, who becomes pop star Hannah Montana at night.

Both the Hannah/Miley brands have become big successes in their own right with a vast range of merchandise, including clothes, games, jewellery, accessories, dolls, stationery, dinnerware and lunchkits. Why are tweens so attractive to marketers?

They are the first truly interactive generation, having grown up with new media. Normally more technologically able than their parents, they are avid online social networkers. Disney's Club Penguin targets six to 14-year-olds with its snow-covered virtual world where they interact under the guise of their colourful penguin avatars.

Tweens have substantial spending power arising from sources such as pocket money, gifts and payment for chores and they exert a substantial influence over household purchases, including big-ticket items such as technology, family holidays and cars. One study in the UK indicated that parents tend to spend

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