Sunday, May 20, 2007

Manufacturers Share 10 Tips for Marketing to Tweens

1. Respond to Buying Patterns.
In the late 1990s, Hasbro noted that 8- to 12-year-olds were leaving
the toy aisle and spending more money on fashion, entertainment and
“real” consumer electronics. According to John, the company used newly
acquired Tiger Electronics to reach that increasingly influential group of kids who “want to fit in and stand out at the same time.”

2. Research Your Target Market.
“Don’t just accept what everyone else is saying. Find out for
yourself,” John said. Through research, including work with a tween
advisory panel, Hasbro learned characteristics of tweens that helped
shape their campaigns.

3. Communicate With Your Customers.
B*tween Productions sends out a bi-weekly email newsletter with games,
contests and activities. “It's the major benefit of becoming a member
of BSG [Beacon Street Girls],” Director of Marketing Bobbie Carlton told TDmonthly, and it occasionally includes surveys about the club.

4. Fit Your Audience.
Carlton pointed out that B*tween Productions tackles the "between"
nature of tweens in its "Beacon Street Girls" book series by "offering
up a wide range of diverse primary characters." Though they're all 12
years old, they're designed to account for the variations in maturity
levels among 9- to 13-year-olds.

5. Have an Online Presence.
B*tween Productions' online components are "the key to the whole
kingdom,” Carlton said. “When kids are out looking for things to do,
they're often looking for things online. Hundreds of thousands visit
our site every month, and many of them have never heard of the Beacon
Street Girls."

6. Find New Ways to Promote.
Dunecraft, known for its preschool-to-adult product lines, realized it
needed a new way to target the growing tween population, so the company
recently extended its online reach through an advergame marketing its Fly Trap Fiends kit.
According to Owner Grant Cleveland, the Fly Trap Game offers fun facts
about the carnivorous plants as well as “opportunities between levels
to go visit our site.”

7. Seek Affordable Strategies.
Cleveland called advergaming “a fairly inexpensive way to increase
product awareness.” DuneCraft used a free trial of a listing software,
Public Relations Specialist Alicia Borley explained, so the company’s
current game is downloadable, free of charge, on thousands of gaming
and shareware sites. “The listing is free, so you pay a one-time
development cost,” Cleveland told TDmonthly.

8. Cross-Promote.
"We get a lot of [online] placement … through our partnerships,"
Carlton said. The Internet Keep Safe Coalition is one such partnership,
she noted, and A Girl’s World provided a link to the Beacon Street
Girls site in exchange for BSG books.

9. Challenge Conventional Wisdom.
Although the electronics market says, “If it’s not better than what’s
out, it shouldn’t come out,” Hasbro utilized a downstreaming concept to
successfully release Hitclips discs, the black-and-white-screened VideoNow player and cell-phone-like ChatNow Communicators. “Don’t underestimate the value that tweens can find when it’s made for them and marketed for them,” John said.

10. Be Willing to Shift Your Strategy.
Hasbro had utilized a profitable downstreaming approach with three
lines, but had to re-evaluate when the mp3 player debuted. Instead of
releasing a Tiger Electronics version, the company partnered with the
competition — launching instead i-Dog interactive
speakers. Cleveland agreed that change can be good: “I don't think
marketing today is something where you come up with one formula and
year after year it works,” he said.

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