Youth is wasted on the young, and never more blatantly than today. Why? Because the young don't want to be young anymore. They want to be stylish, sophisticated, self-sufficient--and, increasingly, they've got the ability to pull it off.
Just check out the clothing in Brat, a new fashion catalog aimed at pre-teen and teenaged girls. "We've included all the styles popular with this market: skate, streetwear, preppy, glamour and club," says Mike Burwasser, who created Brat for Glendale, New York's Bowe Industries, a licensing company.
Club? That's right. In between the T-shirts and bell-bottoms are little black dresses and skin-tight brocade miniskirts. "A lot of our readers can't go to clubs yet," says Burwasser, "but they're very interested in the clothes."
And it's not just limited to fashion. Today's kids can even invest in their own kid-friendly mutual funds, then track their portfolios on the Web.
Diane Schwartz, associate publisher of Selling to Kids, a newsletter covering the children's market, reports that today's kids are more sophisticated than any generation before them.
"About 65 percent of all U.S. households have two working parents," Schwartz says, "so kids today are assuming responsibility at a younger age. They're also very media-savvy. They're fearless of technology, so they go online. They've got a lot of influence over the purchasing decisions their parents make, and they have [their own] money to spend as well. Kids respond to [products and messages] that make them feel empowered because they feel like they are empowered."
Look for marketing aimed directly at kids: how-to videos, classes and books; "junior" versions of popular adult products and events (such as NASCAR races); and marketing that appeals to the child-sized social conscience.