The Crystallization of the Tween Market
2. “Discovering” the tween
“Discovering” the tween
Move over baby boomers. After courting you for 40 years, marketers and advertisers have now turned their attention to a powerful new group of consumers—your kids.
—STEINBERG 1998, 58
In grade five I was allowed to go to the mall without my parents. I would meet up with my friends and together we would make our way to Upper Canada Mall on the bus. We would scour the mall, our meagre allowances burning holes in our pockets. We would buy the latest teen magazines; plan future clothing purchases when we came back with our mothers; and, often after a trip to the food court, peruse the toy store for the latest gizmos. I loved all of these excursions. It was freeing to be in a public space without my parents. I felt empowered (and cool). But there was more to this than my own personal freedom. The hidden story behind these mall excursions is that retailers, designers and merchandisers were beginning to notice us. Little did my friends and I know at the time that we were participating in a dramatic deepening of the commercialization of youth culture. We were not exactly experiencing a new frontier. As our parents could tell us, the youth market had been colonized by market forces long before the 1980s. However, the 1980s were a period of intense commodification and increasing segmentation of the youth market as young people were targeted...
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