Brands and retailers try to solve the puzzle that is tween boys
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the blog of LoyaltyOne. The article first appeared on Forbes.com.
Target in July introduced an exclusive line designed for girls aged eight to 12, called “More Than Magic.” Its nearly 500 items resulted from interviews with girls and their parents, which raises the question: Where’s the boys’ voice in the tween market?
There are as many boys in this age group as girls, yet few retail brands seem to invest in this market in big ways.
Here are four considerations in determining what will hit the mark.
- Use loyalty insights. Loyalty programs could identify when tween-boy purchases begin — e.g., larger clothing sizes, sharply higher grocery bills — and inform communications and promotions for other products that will appeal to this demographic
- Partner with moms. Tween boys may influence purchases, but moms make the final call. Retailers showing they understand the peer pressure boys feel — about how they look, smell and compete — have a better chance of capturing moms’ ears.
- Reach them through girls. More than 40 percent of boys ages eight to 18 said one of their best friends was a girl, according to NPD. These girls, who mature faster, are guiding boys in fashion and fads, often through social media. Sports brands like Nike and Under Armour have been effective at tapping into this susceptible age by taking the market seriously and offering boys the same styles as men.
- Don’t assume interests. Generally, tween boys are losing interest in toys, gaining interest in girls, and are definitely interested in being cool. Enter products such as SpongeBob SquarePants Eau de Toilette Spray for Boys. Remember that thinking like boys also means seeing what they see. Technology makes a new interests accessible, such as photography (Instagram and Snapchat), entrepreneurialism (apps like Street Food Tycoon), and a range of activities addressed in video games — Lego hit the mark with its Dimensions series.
Lastly, retailers and brands would benefit from being sensitive to the vulnerabilities of tween-aged boys. This period between childhood and teens is filled with expectations that earlier generations did not experience. If these boys feel cared for, above all else, they will likely remember it as men.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Why do tween boys appear to see less attention from brands and retailers than their female counterparts? What advice would you have for marketers targeting the tween boys market and how should it differ than for girls?