How the environment is affecting the attitudes and behaviour of tweens and early teens and what this means for brands.
Developing meaningful relationships with kids gives brand managers and marketers a tremendous opportunity to build brand loyalty for the long haul. It is crucial that brands position themselves as powerful tools that satisfy core emotional needs for kids – perceived benefits, such as appearing cool and self-determined, exercising personal freedom and control over their own choices score high on kids’ lists.
Mininni, T. 2005
Please note: This article has been edited for length. Please click on the link below to read the full article as a PDF, or right click, save as to download the PDF to your computer: Youth Dynamix
Developing relevant brands that resonate with individuals and ultimately build relationships with young consumers has become an important part of many companies’ marketing strategies. The youth have now become an important market segment; due to their own spending power as well as the increased influence and “say” they have within the family unit; and will continue to be in the future, when they are the big earners, big spenders, business people, government officials and adults of tomorrow.
As they grow up, young people go through a number of developmental stages. Youth Dynamix has developed the Youth Dynamix Lifestage Model, based predominantly on Piaget’s developmental stages, that identifies milestones and needstates children experience as they move from the “Age of Exploration”, to becoming tweens (the “Age of Aspiration”), and then early teens (the “Age of Exploration”).
Tweens have been identified globally as the segment with the most potential for marketers. This is also true in South Africa, where the tween population of 10-14 year olds consists of 5.1 million individuals with growing financial clout (Statistics South Africa, 2005).
A tween is a mass of contradictions. They face conflicting developments. An emerging sense of independence balanced by strong ties to parents. A strong desire to be cool and stand out yet not be considered by peers as an outsider. One foot in childhood and the other making initially tentative and then bold steps toward teen-do.
Target the lucrative tween market, Packagedfacts.com, 2005
Trends impacting on the South African tween and early teen mindset
The impact of environmental trends is pervasive in affecting the attitudes and behaviour of South African tweens and early teens. This article will explore three of the many trends identified by Youth Dynamix.
The impact of “Barbed Wire Culture”
The environment in which the youth are growing up in is not safe, hence they are growing up behind closed doors, high walls, barbed wire and security fences.
The environmental trend, “Barbed Wire Culture” is impacting on the attitudes and behaviour of South African tweens and early teens. The environment in which young people are growing up in is not safe, and the result is that tweens and early teens are increasingly “imprisoned” and forced to socialise in what they and their parents perceive to be “safe zones”; for example homes, shopping malls, fast food outlets, organised entertainment areas and events. Here they are allowed to play, socialise and interact with their friends in an “organised” or “supervised” setting, but they have less opportunity to be “free”. Results from the Youth Dynamix BratTrax® 2005/6 research study illustrates that amongst the favourite activities amongst tweens and early teens are going shopping at the mall for the girls, and playing PlayStation or computer games amongst the boys.
Parents experience a large amount of uncertainty and persistently worry about the safety of their children. This causes changing parental values, the adoption of new cultural norms, and a sense of acceptance by many mothers that children today are over-indulged on account that they can no longer have the freedom of yesteryear.
“They are over-indulged but they also don’t have what we had. We used to climb trees … we used to walk to go out to friends, they can’t do that anymore, so they need to amuse themselves at home.”
(White / Coloured / Asian mom of 7-11 year old, LSM 9-10).
As tweens and early teens are being forced to “cocoon” in safe or supervised settings, they have more restricted access to their friends and the outside world, often through “screen” mediums such as cell phones, computers, and television. These technological gadgets have provided the youth with a new playing field, and have shifted the traditional boundaries, affecting how they think, how they access and share information as well as how they play, interact socially and communicate. Technological access also gives these young people access to global brands and the spawning of a global youth culture. Cell phones are at the forefront of the technological revolution in South Africa, where 24 percent of 7-15 year olds have their own cellphones, while 52 percent of 7-15 year olds have access to a cellphone when they need it (Youth Dynamix, BratTrax® 2005/6).