Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Kid Power in the Marketplace (and it's not just at the supermarket!)

Back in the dark ages—when I was a child—a good allowance was 25 cents a week. By the time I got to junior high school inflation had raised it to $1 a week.

Kids AllowanceSo I gasp in astonishment when I see that the typical Tweenager (defined as children 8-12 years old) is spending an average of $9 per week on “stuff.” That “stuff” can be music, clothing, arcade games, or food. It’s all about making the kids feel grown-up and independent.

Marketers know that how these Tweenagers spend those funds today is a strong indicator of how their spending patterns will firm up as they age.

Ms. Fashion Plate who spends her funds on make-up, mini-skirts and temporary tattoos, is going to make certain stores very happy in 10 years.

Starbucks is probably salivating at the concept of turning the coke-sipping 10 year olds into latte-loving college seniors.

Teens ShoppingChildren today have more personal income than ever before. Living in their parents’ home, they have few bills to pay. At the same time, they hugely influence family shopping patterns. And it’s not just about which breakfast cereal to put in Mom’s grocery cart, either.

Think this is small potatoes, marketers?

Think again. According to Teen Research Unlimited, US teens spent and influenced spending $175 Billion in 2009. $115 billion of that sum was earned through babysitting, grass cutting and similar chores; $60 billion was allowance from their parents.

Great Gugga mugga! These 33 million American children have more spending power than the gross domestic product of many countries!

Rocky and BullwinkleIn the old days, Saturday morning TV sold sugary sweet cereals and got-to-have toys to my generation. Parents could stop the conversation by forbidding TV gazing. It was easy.

Today, the messages are coming at the children hard and fast. The kids get it from TV, of course, but also from home computers, school computers, cell phones, social media, commercially underwritten school programs, trend-setting friends and the perennial teenage bugaboo: peer pressure. There is no escape.

It’s a long term strategy, but many marketers know that by teaching the children to want ______ today, they will be building demand for tomorrow. And while the children may not need ______ today, in 10 years they won’t be able to live without it!

Joe Camel won’t be the first. Or the last.

What are you doing to position your organization to take advantage of this growing groundswell of youth power and influence? I’d be interested to hear from you. Please email me at Ellen@PaulandPartners.net.