The power of 12: digital tweens make for marketing sweet-spot

Many cultures have their own perception of when a child becomes an adult - or at least someone who is capable of making his or her own decisions. Within digital society, that age just might be 12, according to PwC's ongoing Consumer Intelligence series. The research firm's principle strategist explains why.
August 13, 2015

Many cultures have their own perception of when a child becomes an adult – or at least someone who is capable of making his or her own decisions. For some, it’s 13, and for others (like those who go by a Mayan Quinceañera, let’s say), it’s 15. And within digital society, that age just might be 12.

A new study from PwC’s ongoing Consumer Intelligence Series surrounding development in media and entertainment, entitled Media-savvy kids, teens want engaging stories on multiple devices, has pinned a digital marketing sweet-spot on the over-12 cohort, citing this group as being the most receptive to messaging across all media types.

“This is the age when you see kids getting more influenced by media decisions. They are more expressive and have a higher content consumption than their younger counterparts,” says Chris Vollmer, principal, Media & Entertainment, PwC’s Strategy&, “Once kids hit 12, they start having more spending power, and they even start to perceive themselves as influencers for household purchases.”

Even still, a companion PwC study, entitled I’m the parent, that’s why! How parents influence what their kids watch, finds that the majority of parents (91%) with tweens perceive themselves as being influential over what kids consume and access online. And a large chunk (65%) of parents would pay for a service that showcases content relative to health, well-being, and social and environmental consciousness issues – something that’s especially motivating to parents of 12- to 14-year-olds (72%).

And because of this parental influence, says Vollmer, marketers need to be aware of a dual messaging component.

“As kids get older, the amount of parental monitoring drops off, so there’s an opportunity for marketers to think about how they can help parents but also make kids feel empowered at the same time,” he says.

In terms of where marketers can best reach this demo, the study confirms Facebook’s perch atop kids’ most well-known social media site (with 87% brand awareness), followed closely by Twitter (83%), Instagram (81%), YouTube (80%) and Skype (80%). But when it comes to entertainment value, kids are looking to YouTube, Netflix and DreamWorks the most.

Younger kids in the eight to 11 range are less familiar than those in the over-12 demo with more obscure sites such as Tinder, ooVoo and MeetMe. Teens are driving interest in most social-media sites, except in the case of YouTube, where interest is equally strong across all ages.

Vollmer says the big social networks still act like the kitchen table for how families share what’s going on with their lives.

“They have scale. And it’s obvious that kids under 13 are participating. But as kids get older and parents retreat in decisions, they want to find a space that’s theirs.” That’s where other options like Snapschat and Vine may come in. “Every cohort wants a platform as their own,” he says.

Overall, the study finds 45% percent of kids/teens spend 16 to 20 hours consuming media content per week, driven by both 12- to 14-year-olds (52%) and 15- to 18-year-olds (52%). That measures up to a whole lot of eyeball and click potential for those courting this cohort.

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