Jan 8, 2010
Preteen Profits

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, tweens – that group of kids roughly between the ages of 8 to 12 – will number about 20 million in 2009, and are projected to reach nearly 23 million by 2020.

All these tweens will be looking for the latest costumes come Halloween – something different from the others, but exactly like everybody else (you know how kids are). This can be difficult, as they’re too old for the “kiddie” costumes, but too young for the more adult offerings. The key for retailers is to appeal to both the parent and the tween, offering them a variety of options that both can agree – or at least compromise – on.

And while boys may gravitate towards movie characters, musicians and athletes, many girls in this segment are both fashion and self-conscious.

“Many of my customers are very young girls who are not quite adults (but they think they are) and many of them come in with Mom and Dad,” said Marc Davis of Havin’ A Party in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Unfortunately, many of the female costumes are somewhat revealing and not appropriate for someone so young.”

So what Davis and his staff do is work on a compromise. He purposely has his female staff take care of this customer, making sure the costume fits correctly and is in good taste.

“As for me, I stay in the background and make sure the parents are happy with the choice of costume,” Davis said. “In the end, the parents and the kids are both happy, as without the proper help they would just end up walking out of the store fighting with each other without resolving the dilemma (or buying anything).”

Knowing boys go for retro trends and tween girls are walking the fine line of trying to fit in while still expressing their own personal style, Disguise and other costume companies are creating lines that cater to these needs.

“Our ‘Sassyscene’ line is based on traditional Halloween characters, but with strong fashion elements in the latest colors, fabrications, silhouettes and trims,” said Marty Imler, marketing associate for Disguise. “And we’ve had great success with our ‘Rot N’Rocker’ line introduced this year. Tweens can identify with the genre of music each character exemplifies and, of course, they have the ghoulish twist to make them ideal for Halloween.”

Yes, tweens are definitely very much the “trendy” type. and because of this, it may be difficult to keep up with them and even more difficult to try to predict upcoming trends.

Nevertheless, Karen Dang, marketing coordinator for PureCostumes.com, shared some useful guidelines that can help retailers seal the deal.

Target the Parent, too
When a tween is shopping for a costume, the parent’s approval is usually required before a purchase is made. Therefore, it is pertinent that the costume is a compromise between what the tween wants and what the parent wants. The best way to approach this is to think of them as two individual markets with different priorities, then determine which costumes fulfill the top priorities in each group.

For example, if the tween wants a costume that is trendy and the parent is looking to find something inexpensive, both of those requirements must be met before a successful purchase is made.

Licensed Costumes
As mentioned before, tweens like to stay trendy. They are swayed easily by pop culture and are obsessed with the latest movies, music and books. Therefore, licensed products are definitely a must-have for any retailer targeting the tween market. Harry Potter and High School Musical are prime examples.

Predicting Trends
A sure way to keep ahead of the market is to keep an eye out for trends in the teen and young adult markets. Tweens tend to mirror the “cool people” who are a few years older, so many trends actually trickle down from those markets. A great way to do this is to pay attention to upcoming movie, music and book releases that are targeted towards teens and young adults.

Surviving the Market
Retailers don’t have to slash prices. Rather, they just need to be sure that the value of the costume is worth the price. While this may include lowering the prices of some items, it usually doesn’t mean that you need to offer steep discounts on everything in your store. Market your products in a way that will convince the consumer that the costume is worth its price.

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