americasmart logo
15 Mar

Tween Spirit

tweens 2

W00t! Tweens have a ton of retail influence – and money

By Chris Gigley

Even if the tween demographic isn’t a target customer in your store, selling to this group is a huge and relatively easy opportunity. The people who usually buy for tweens probably are your target customers, and tweens have a surprisingly strong influence on buying behavior in general.

Born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s, Generation Z, which includes tweens, has more than $44 billion in annual purchasing power worldwide, according to a study from IBM and the National Retail Federation. That’s impressive, but what’s more interesting is how tweens are reshaping how those dollars are spent.

Go Gucci (translation: This means getting something good)

Sherie Judah discovered the true spending power and influence soon after launching American Jewel in 2013. “We started with a hair tie made for stay-at-home moms and college girls,” says Judah. “Then it hit the tweens, and they took it to a whole other level.”

Mainly through social media. These kids seem to spend hours in isolation on their phones, but they’re on Instagram, Snapchat and other social media platforms communicating with their friends and others.

“One person takes photo of something and the number of people who see it just explodes,” says Jennifer Mines, vice president of iScream. “Not everyone buys based on the photo, but everyone likes or comments, spreading the photo of the product even wider.”

Splitting the Cheddar (translation: This means sharing the cost)

Mines says she also notices that, when it comes to gift-giving, tweens often go in together on one expensive gift rather than buying their own, less-expensive items.

“They go out and take a photo, share it with their friends and ask if they want to chip in,” says Mines. “A $100 retail price point isn’t unreasonable because you have five kids going in together on one gift.”

Getting an item in your store to be that gift and drawing moms and grandmothers to buy for their tweens begins with buying the right stuff. Melissa Fudala, senior vice president  of Lifestyle Brands for Fashion Angels, says it’s all about aspirational—accessories a teenager and young adult would wear or use but not quite so edgy in the design.

“The tween isn’t always an innovator,” says Fudala. “She wants to be unique but doesn’t want to stand out too much. We try to get a good balance so she has her own style but still fits in with what’s happening around her.”

Judah adds that tween shoppers tend to be reactive. They’ll go to school, see an older girl wearing an accessory and suddenly must have it. This is where traditional gift and accessories stores have an in, because again, the tween often isn’t the one making the final purchase. It’s her mother or grandmother.

It's Hundo P (translation: This mean’s 100 percent certain)

For retailers who aren’t catering to this audience yet, Judah suggests starting with a small assortment of accessories to get a feel for buying behavior. “Two to go, one to show,” she says.

Judah also recommends buying a coordinating collection of items so the visual impact of the display is powerful and so customers are encouraged to buy more than one thing for the tween in their lives. “The moms and grandmas want to see an aesthetic,” she says. “There has to be a rhyme or reason for it to be in your store.”

While there are a few chain stores that capture the demographic well, talk to your reps at Market to get their input into what could work from their lines. There are several exhibitors who make it a priority. Also, talk to some tweens and get their opinions and check out the blogs they follow. Learn their language; there’s a definite social media shorthand. If you can tailor that kind of attention, product and style to fit your store, you’ll soon see a nice uptick in sales. And whether you know it or not, your still will also get a boost on social media. As Fudala, Judah and Mines can attest, word spreads fast among tweens.


Find tween-approved merchandise at the Atlanta Spring Gift, Home Furnishings & Holiday Market, which closes today. 

Register Today

Cover Image: American Jewel

Contributing Writer
You Might Also Like
Jan countdown 2019
Looking Forward: January 2019
July 17, 2018
Everyday Korean Recipes: Kimchi Bacon Mac and Cheese
May 31, 2018
Jan 19 preview cover
January 2019 Market Preview
October 1, 2018