Finding Fashion That Fits Tweens and Teens: Lessons From The Field

Posted by Amy Henry on Fri, Feb 18, 2011 @ 09:41 AM

Tween Teen FashionThis week, team YouthBeat presented at the MAGIC conference in Las Vegas. While fashion hasn’t always been our bag, so to speak, we have been engaged in some enlightening conversations with teens and tweens over the past few months regarding their closets, their clothes and the way that both of these reflect their emerging character. Our YouthBeat subscribers will see our qualitative panelists speak about fashion for themselves in an upcoming episode of “Time Capsule TV.” For our blog readers, we thought we’d share some of the emerging ideas related to today’s youth and fashion…

  1. Today’s teens are more cost-conscious than ever…And they reward retailers and brands who understand this. While getting the right style still matters more than getting something on sale, tweens and teens are savvier shoppers than we might think…In our recent round of qualitative, we heard about clothing swaps (friends exchanging the digs they’re too bored to don with each other), raiding mom’s closet, and comparing prices online before heading to the store. We also heard accolades for Target for bringing exclusive and elusive designers down to their level. And we’ve heard more and more about Marshall’s as a place to find magazine looks at practical prices.
  2. Online has become a more important tool than ever for clothes shopping. But, for most tweens and teens, browsing happens more than buying. Teen girls buy clothes online more than any other category of goods, but only 21% of them have bought clothing online in the past month. They’re still more likely to shop offline than online. But websites play an important role, as many browse for their look online before they ever get a ride to the mall. And sites that let them share potential purchases with friends, so they can crowd-source a point of view before putting something in their closet, might motivate them to visit that site’s brick and mortar locale over another.
  3. When it comes to style, play matters – almost as much as pretty. Kid-collectibles like Silly Bandz have actually sustained their appeal with the teen set, who might be craving a little levity in their look these days. Today’s fashionistas want fashion to be fun, and look for accessories to help them (inexpensively) customize their looks and make a statement all their own. And the message they send can include a little bit of humor as this generation takes fashion and themselves slightly less seriously than previous generations.   
  4. But speaking of pretty…Today’s tweens and teens might be aspiring to a little romance and even some control in their fashion. It’s not news that the cultural climate influences fashion choices, and at a time when so many tweens and teens feel immersed in chaos, structured looks and fitting fashions might be just the antidote. Think Lea Michele’s Golden Globes cotton candy pink number, or the tailored look of Taylor Swift.
  5. Finally, when it comes to marketing your clothing brand, social matters – but maybe not in the way you think. As our experience at this conference confirms, there is hardly a dearth of technologies and consultants looking to help retailers convert online hits to purchases. But if you’re thinking social and fashion, think back to basics. Word of mouth influences teens’ choices of clothing more than any other source, but don’t assume that having a presence on Facebook means you’ve got it covered. Not all social network strategies are created equal, so make sure your presence is more authentic than intrusive, and more subtle then sell-y.

We think these lessons extend beyond the fashion category to many other youth categories…In short, don’t take price for granted, understand that online presence doesn’t always translate into online purchases (and that’s okay!), prioritize play in your brand’s product and image, don’t assume all teens want looks and styles that live on the edge, and finally, pay attention to social networks, but don’t forget that they’re not all online.  

Tags: conference, Teens, fashion, tweens

Is Valentine’s Day Just a Hallmark Holiday for Kids?

Posted by Amy Henry on Mon, Feb 14, 2011 @ 10:19 AM

It’s hard to meet an adult who will openly admit that they LOVE Valentine’s Day. Many call it manufactured, overblown and adding insult to injury for those without someone to share it with. It puts new relationships under pressure, and maybe some old ones too! And even the less jaded romantics would probably attest that love doesn’t need a day on the calendar to be expressed (and for that matter, jewelry, flowers or chocolates don’t need to come once a year!).

But for kids, tweens and teens, Valentine’s Day holds its luster. Holidays punctuate the doldrums of ordinary life for youth (especially in colder climates where a little February warmth comes just in time!). It means school parties, special crafts and a little special occasion candy for kids (take a look at these contemporary treats for kids-at-heart). It means an excuse to tell someone you care for tweens and teens – Cand Hearts for Kidswho might just need an official holiday to give them an excuse to express their feelings. And for all, it means getting a card (maybe even one that features your favorite character!) or an email or a skype from family and friends who live far away.

So Happy Valentine’s Day, Hallmark Holiday or not J And share a little love with a special kid, tween or teen in your life.

Tags: valentines day, kids tweens teens, love

Kids’, Tweens’ and Teens’ Presence Felt at the Super Bowl

Posted by Amy Henry on Mon, Feb 07, 2011 @ 02:28 PM

The numbers may not be in yet, but we can assume that the Super Bowl was watched by many kids, tweens and teen. According to our YouthBeat survey, 76% of youth ages 6-17 watch NFL games regularly, and that number rises to 79% among 8 to 12 year olds. 

Acknowledging the presence of younger viewers (and viewers young at heart), Fox finished off their evening with a special Super Bowl themed episode of Glee, complete with spoofed Super Bowl Ads and a half-time rendition of Thriller. Within the game, performances were decidedly kid-friendly, or at least kid-conscious. Lea Michele (Glee) sang “America the Beautiful” (just before Christina Aguilera’s lyric-lapsing version of the national anthem), and the Black-eyed Peas kept half-time relatively tame in their bedazzled costumes. We only wish that Usher’s appearance served as an intro to his protégé, Justin Bieber – can you say Bieber Bowl 2012?

Ads might not acknowledge the youth audience as much as we would expect, with a cluster of spots for family/kid films airing after 10:00 pm on the east coast. But there were a few, and if our 2010 YouthBeat results are any indication, we would expect that some of these ads will stick in kids’, tweens’ and teens’ minds for more than a fleeting moment…

Last year, Doritos’ Super Bowl ads topped tweens’ and teens’ list of favorites and this year’s consumer-created ad in which a man literally faces the consequences of teasing a pug with the cheesy is sure to hit their radar. Raising the stakes from dogs to bears, McDonald’s aired a spot early in the broadcast that began with a familiar “McDonald’s as reward” motif but took an edgier twist.star wars darth vader volkswagen super bowl ad

But our favorite ad, for Volkswagen Passat, tapped into an insight we’ve seen played out in auto advertising over the past few years: thinking about cars means thinking about kids for many of today’s consumers. Or maybe kids just serve as the perfect symbol for the whimsy that we want to feel about driving? In any case, we think this ad pulled in parental nostalgia and contemporary kid culture by using a Star Wars theme (Clone Wars on Cartoon Network has kept the intergalactic franchise fresh for kids and tweens) and left us with a happy ending that parents and kids couldn’t help but love.

Click here to see it for yourself!

Tags: advertisment, kids, Sports, TV

Were kids’, tweens’ and teens wishes fulfilled this holiday season?

Posted by Amy Henry on Wed, Feb 02, 2011 @ 01:41 PM

As our pre-holiday “wishlist” survey showed, high-ticket electronics were the top “asks” for the 2010 season…But we wanted to know how many kids, tweens and teens actually got what they wanted from the list of most frequently requested items. We know that many youth covet iPads and iPhones (are you sensing a trend?), but most had previously settled for desktops and cell phones that stick to the basics. Would this season’s gifts signal a significant shift in youth ownership of cutting edge devices?

In January, we conducted a mini-survey of just over 400 kids and tweens ages 6 to 12, and found that more kids than we expected were lucky enough to receive an iPad (12%). The iPod Touch was most likely to be received among all the choices we gave them, which isn’t surprising as many kids in this age group would have received Kid andTweenTable 1their first iPod this year – and why not go big! Kinect, by Xbox beat Sony’s Move by a longshot. Still, almost half reported missing out on all of the wishlist items that we heard so much about in the pre-holiday weeks. And despite impressive sales of digital readers this season, kids only contributed small numbers to the flock of new users of these paper-replacing devices.

In a poll of 164 teens ages 14 to 17, teens were actually less likely to receive these items for the holidays than their younger counterparts with 57% having received none of the items we listed.  Perhaps this is because they were more likely to have some of these higher-priced technologies already. But like younger youth, they were most likely to get an iPod Touch. They were, however more likely to get their hands on an iPhone…Teen Table

While it may have seemed that EVERYBODY got these gadgets over the holidays, and even moreso if you’re a kid who did not the truth is that these technologies continue to be enjoyed by a minority of youth. We’ll see how the numbers net out when we look at information from a broader sample of kids and teens, but for now it looks like just a few more kids, tweens and teens added to the slowly growing numbers of users of these technologies.

Tags: kids, wish list, Teens, shopping, holiday, tweens