Today’s persistent tweens are turning out to be a boon for the retail industry, which is finding that they are bankable no matter the economic climate. Even during the recession, tweens were happy to plan shopping trips built around their wants and needs.
“Tweens are a force,” says Golden Gate University’s Kit Yarrow, psychology department chair, and author of Gen BuY: How Tweens, Teens and Twenty-Somethings Are Revolutionizing Retail. “Not only within their households, but also in society.”
To be sure, the majority of young shoppers in the U.S. are into fashion, almost as much as their older teen counterparts. Among 13 year olds (the youngest age of those surveyed) 29% “love” clothes shopping, while 35% “enjoy” it, according to the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™ Survey. Among those age 14 to 18, 32% “love” it, while 29% “enjoy” the pastime.
Yarrow says the country’s youth-centric culture encourages tweens to let parents know what they want.
“Similarly, parents are much more likely to think of their tweens as having valid and valuable opinions than previous generations of parents,” Yarrow says. “Therein lies the influence. They talk, listen and care about each other’s opinions.”
As a group, America’s 21 million tweens account for about $43 billion in spending power annually, according to EPM Communications’ “Tween Spending & Influence” report. This purchasing influence encompasses apparel, cell phones, family vacations and more.
“They’re not the ones actually pulling the trigger on the transaction itself,” Weil says. “Since they don’t have any money themselves, they have to influence the parent to take them to Justice or 77Kids or wherever.”
On average, 13 year olds spend approximately $54 on clothes each month, while teens age 14 to 18 spend $64, according to Monitor data. And since tweens usually rely on an adult to make the purchase, 71% say they plan most of their apparel purchases, rather than impulse shop.
Regardless of price, though, these young shoppers are keen to keeping up with the latest trends, even though the fad may be extremely short-lived.
More than 6 out of 10 (63%) 13 year olds say they stay on the cutting edge of fashion or adopt fashion changes quickly, the Monitor survey finds. And 62% say they get their apparel ideas from people they see regularly, compared to 50% of 14 to 18 year olds.
Given the range of retailers now catering to the younger set, there is no shortage of tween-friendly trends. Abercrombie & Fitch reaches out to tweens with Abercrombie Kids, Gap has Gap Kids, Aeropostale offers PS Aeropostale and J. Crew has Crew Cuts. Of course, stores like Children’s Place, Delia’s and Justice are tween specific. And department stores offer tween labels like Jessica and Ashlee Simpson’s Jessica Simpson Girls, or Madonna’s Material Girl. Regardless of age, budget, or sense of style, it seems there’s something for everyone.
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