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Retailers target ‘tweens’ more than ever

Believe it or not, kids between the ages of 8 to 12 play a role in $260 billion worth of America's economy each year. NBC's Jennifer Coggiola reports on the buying power of "tweens."
/ Source: NBC News

Eleven-year-old Cassius Price is a young man who knows what he wants — and it's often found on the Internet. Among his tech toys — an Xbox, a PlayStation 2 and a laptop. And thanks to Mom, he gets nearly everything he wants.

Whether by surfing the Web or cruising the mall, millions of “tweens” — kids ranging in age from 8 to 12 — know just what they want, and where and how to get it.

At Atlanta's North Point Mall, 11-year-old Bobby shows Dad items at the Apple store. He impresses his parents with his knowledge of what's hot, what's not, even what's a good buy.

"He's so savvy," says Dad.

There's even a book, "The Great Tween Buying Machine: Marketing to Today's Tween" by author Tim Coffey.

"In many ways, they're a source of information and expertise for their parents," says Coffey.

Tweens account for an enormous amount of spending:

  • $10 billion from their own pockets
  • $74 billion more influencing family purchases
  • $176 billion spent on them by their parents

That's a total of $260 billion.

Naturally, advertisers are taking notice. This holiday season tweens are buying online, in traditional shops, and now, more than ever, in specialty tween stores.

Club Libby Lu caters to tween girls like Shelby, celebrating her 10th birthday with friends. Afterwards, Shelby shows Mom what a tween girl wants — a tiara and rings she says are "bling, bling."

Shelby is just the type of girl Club Libby Lu CEO Mary Drolet wants in her store.

"There's a lot of little girls out there, and they have a lot of buying power," says Drolet.

What about young Cassius and his mom Stephanie? They are a retailer's dream — huge spenders, especially this time of year.