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Marketing to Multiple Generations

By: Darlene Fiske
Posted: June 16, 2008, from the August 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

From tweens and teens to baby boomers and the forgotten Generation X , each client segment has different needs and desires. In addition, never before have there been so many opportunities to communicate with clients—through technology, relationships and experiences that shape their thoughts and drive their actions.

Spas that cater to multiple generations will reap the benefits of an extremely diverse clientele. Strategically targeting various age groups also will benefit your spa if you know specific facts about how each generation spends its time and makes decisions. There are numerous books about how to market to each segment, and this article will not attempt to tell you everything you need to know about promoting to everyone. What it will do, however, is define each of these groups, and provide insights about their interests and how they spend their time.

Tweens—Ages 8–12

“Tween” stands for the ages “in between” the childhood and teenage years. This group is getting a lot of attention lately. Unlike other generations that are segmented by birth year, this is a rolling segment that will be refreshed annually as the children grow up and become teenagers. In addition, its members are the first to be born into the age of technology, in which moms pick up their kids from day care wearing wireless phones; DVD players entertain youngsters in the backs of minivans; and enables little ones to dance with Oscar the Grouch, read virtual books and send e-mails to their favorite furry friends. This is a new era for marketers, and as this group ages, it will be imperative to give them what they want—when they want it—and to recognize the importance that technology serves in their lives. For many children, it is like another member of the family.

The economic power of this group, however, still lies with their parents, who provide allowances and gifts. Communication must be twofold: directed to the tween who influences the purchase, as well as to their parents. According to the Web site, tweens spend $51 billion per year, while their parents contribute an additional $170 billion. That’s a lot of money spent on toys and games. One popular item is the Build-A-Bear Workshop’s stuffed animals. Tweens can build their own teddy bear and select an outfit for it to wear. When will a spa brand negotiate its logo on a bear’s spa robe? This cross-marketing tactic has been integrated by Harley-Davidson and Disney—both offer bear-appropriate clothes for children to purchase that reinforce their respective brands.

Teens—Ages 13–18

Teenagers have immense buying power worth $175 billion, and 63% of their spending money comes from a part- or full-time job. Among this tech-savvy group, one in three high school seniors carries a credit card. What piques their interest? Teens spend money primarily on clothes and food, according to “Coinstar Teens Talk Poll: Teens Report on Money, Spending and Buying,” a 2003 study by Coinstar, Inc.—an entertainment service company. Teens allocate 33% of their weekly earnings and allowances for clothing, and an additional 21% for food. Other popular items include movies, music and games.