Saturday, July 31, 2004


Tweenage talk

This is the era of the tween – who falls in the nine to twelve-year-old slot, and is a precocious, demanding brat. In this jet age, each stage of life is attained rapidly; so the word tween carries all the tantrums of a teenager but with the element of sweetness thrown in. This child is targeted by the market for the pester power to wield kidfluence. New words for new concepts: kidfluence, made up of kid and influence, refers to the direct and indirect influence kids have on their parents’ purchasing decisions.

So many neologisms have come up to describe the child’s influence on parents’ shopping habits, proving the marketing man’s faith in this set of consumers. There is pester power, the ability children have to nag their parents into purchasing items they would otherwise not buy or performing actions they would otherwise not perform. Then, marketing pundits lay great stress on the nag factor, the degree to which parents’ purchasing decision is based on being nagged by their children. "Children between the ages of 12 and 17 typically will ask nine times for an advertised product in the hope their parents will give in, according to a recent survey conducted by The Centre for a New American Dream, a consumer and environmental group based near Washington. More than half the parents surveyed said they do, ultimately, buy the product," writes Jenny Deam (The Denver Post, July 23, 2002).

All these trends are a part of hyper-parenting, a child-rearing style in which parents are intensely involved in managing, scheduling and enriching all aspects of their children’s lives. "We live in an age of hyper-parenting, where a child is the ultimate validation of an adult’s ego and the little time they have to spend with them must be ‘quality time’. There is little room for deviance, boredom or unplanned curiosity in the modern child’s routine, especially when the parents return home from long hours at work," writes Tanveer Ahmed (The Age, Australia, April 30, 2004).