Somewhere in be"tween"

Watch this CBS News clip to learn more about the power of tweens.

Kids today have strong opinions and spending power, and they take an active role in decorating their own space, picking out their own clothes, and even buying their own toys and electronic gadgets.

According to the CBS News story compiled by CBS national correspondant Tracy Smith, “Marketing To "Tweens" Going Too Far?,” they “can't drive or vote, and most can't even go to the mall by themselves. Yet 25 million kids, between the age of 8 and 13, form the most powerful consumer group since the baby boom.” This influential and powerful group is known as “tweens.”

Tween girls are especially prized, Smith points out, because they spend more money, and love to talk. One method used by marketers involves slumber parties. For example at one Los Angeles party with several tween girls attending, a box packed with goodies — accessories, games and new stuff designed to create a frenzy among them — sat in a spot strategically selected by marketing firm GIA, short for Girls Intelligence Agency (

It's part of is a multi-million dollar business strategy that relies on 8-year-old Danielle Koenig, the party's hostess. But more importantly, she is the alpha, or peer influencer, in her group (Smith).

"We have chosen these influencers across the country," says GIA CEO Laura Groppe, "and we have 40 to 50,000 of these girls registered." The GIA carefully cultivates girls like Danielle, Smith observes, and designates them "secret agents."

The most important thing in a secret agent, says Groppe, is "that her peers trust her opinion. … We have to approve them. You know, important strategic business decisions are being made off of this 8-year-old and her friends, so we have to make sure she's the right one." It's viral marketing. If the alpha girl likes a product, she tells two friends, and they tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and it spreads like a virus.

I wonder though…is this too sneaky? Is it ethical?

"People have been selling to kids since the beginning of time," counters Groppe. "Marketers are obviously going to try to push the boundaries as much as possible. “A $300 billion market? You'd better be taking them seriously," Groppe remarks. Danielle is profiled for technology, Smith says, but there are other secret agents profiled as fashionistas, and others for movies. It's getting very scientific.

Too scientific? I can’t help but to think so.


Smith, Tracy. “Marketing To "Tweens" Going Too Far?” CBS News. 14 May 2007. View the entire article here

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