Brand Consultant & Coach, Published Business Writer, Brand Author & Speaker, Harpist, Composer, Mom & Wife, Spiritual Student, Educator ... and that's just on Monday. A blog about brand leadership, innovation and anything else I want to write about.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Top 5 Reasons for Tween Brand Power

It's 2007 and Hannah Montana is the latest craze for tween girls and parents are ponying up several hundred - and in some cases thousands - of dollars to see the live concert version of Disney's mega TV hit.

Tweens (in yesteryear referred to as "kids") are a highly coveted segment of society spanning in age roughly 8 to 12 years old. Over the last decade plus, companies and their marketers across the globe have discovered the increased buying power of this segment, which in 2006 has been estimated at $170 billion worldwide according to Euromonitor.

Aside from the eye-popping dollar figures associated with tweens, what are the top 5 reasons that makes these mini-spenders so powerful in capitalist societies?

1. Their pampering parents and other family members.

At virtually no other time in history have parents and grandparents spent as much on their children for products and services that go beyond basic needs. This translates to designer-inspired room decor, cell phones, specialty dolls, elaborate video game systems...and concert tickets for Disney rock stars.

2. They have their own money.
In case it wasn't clear from the figure above, they have money to spend directly and indirectly - money that comes from mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, etc. as allowances, birthdays, chores. Or they simply ask one of the above family figures to buy for them.

3. Their spending is purely discretionary.
Tweens are in the remarkable position at their stage of life that, aside from saving, they have nothing else to spend their money on but cool stuff that they like. Tweens have no worries about mortgages, aging parents, credit card bills, first cars, or even dates or proms to pay for.

4. They're brand loyal.
Tweens know what brands look, sound and feel like and recognize brands through traditional and Internet/mobile media and marketing. Unlike price sensitive, brand fickle adults, tweens know what they want and will buy it again, and again, and again.

5. They are brand evangelists.

No one articulates the glories and disgraces of a brand quite like a passionate 9-year old. They'll not only sell all the adults they know (perhaps to sell-in Christmas and birthday wish lists all-the-more effectively) they tell all their friends, too, and can talk about it as the fodder for social bonding. "You like Harry Potter and Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, too? Hey, we have something to talk about..."

Tweens - those funny little beings who secretly wish they were already a teen - you have to love them. And it's obvious marketers around the world do.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Tides of Being Self-Employed

You know it's been a long time since I've worked for myself - now officially over 10 years. I'm 36 years old, but keep in mind I've been working ever since I lied about my age to work for a local radio station at the age of 14. Do the's been more than awhile!

There are so many perks to being self-employed. Many years ago when I was employed in Manhattan, I remember as I was walking to the subway, looking up to see a man sitting high above showcased by his expansive apartment window, casually thumbing through a New York Times with a cup of coffee steaming at his side. The time was 10:30am, and I thought to myself in that instant, "Wow, that's freedom and luxury rolled into one." To dictate time on my own terms - I want that.

Not too many months later, I couldn't take the frenetic New York pace anymore and chose to go back to my beloved San Francisco - without a job, a prospect or even an idea of what I was going to do. I take that back, I had one - something about creating furniture to sell, which of course, I knew nothing about.

A decade later, I can honestly say I've enjoyed the highs and survived the lows of having a paycheck completely in my own hands. As a mother, I have the extraordinary gift of dictating my own time to spend with my kids, which is truly priceless - especially considering my own family history.

And then there are times I really wonder - is it worth all the craziness of cash flow fluctuations, people who don't call you back, taxes, and the constant hunt for income?

This summer has been even more brutally hot in the desert than normal and along with it has been an unusual stream of people who have dropped off the face of the earth on the communication side. Call it Mercury retrograde - or whatever - but my list of people who owe money, owe me a phone call or email or owe me a "Yes, thank you we'd like to engage your services" or "No, thank you we're not able to at this time" is quite a long one.

Everyone's busy in life and business, and it's certainly not a conincidence that both busy and business are essentially the same words. But you know, I'm at the point where the "I'm too busy" excuse is a real cop out. What happen to common decency and respect for others and their time?

Ironically (I say as a Westerner) the people I seem to experience the most respectful communication with are the ones from what we perceive as smaller or "developing countries." "Please," "thank you's" and "wonderful I greatly appreciate that" go along way in an email with someone you may or may not know personally and can bring light into a crazed, busy-filled day. Being addressed as "Ms. Alycia" even brings a giggle and a smile to my day.

So what do you think? Is the life of self employment worth it? What's brought a smile or a huge frown to your face lately?