From the August 2000 issue of Entrepreneur

As we've said before, when it comes to deciphering the capricious world of trends, it all boils down to what the oh-so-cool, MTV-viewing, Britney Spears-worshipping younger set wants. That's especially true for teen girls, who constitute the target audience for many a marketing entity. Everyone's pretty curious what next femme-focused fad will sweep the nation-the fad that transcends all age levels and becomes a vast crossover-sort of like those pandemic power beads. So we asked a couple experts what their predictions are for this trend-setting group.

Karen Bokram, publisher and founding editor of Girls' Life magazine, confirmed our suspicions that the power-bead phenomenon was on its way out the door. So what's next? According to Bokram, we'll see a lot of kids heading to class with child-friendly versions of formerly adult electronic tools. Electronic organizers, such as Vtech's Helio, and wireless "intertainment" systems, like Cybiko (which people can use to send and receive instant chat messages or play interactive games), will find their way into the backpacks of many a savvy teen. Beverly Hills, California-based Charmed.com even has a range of Internet-ready fashion accessories like necklaces and bracelets that allow wearers to access the Web and receive and send voice-activated e-mail.

"It's kind of interesting that the only trends we would associate with [business]-women are trickling down to suburban girls," says Bokram. "Electronic organizers are really the lead thing."

The cardinal rule when selling to young people? Treat them the way you'd like to be treated, advises Karen Readey, former research director at SmartGirl.com, a trends and opinion Web site for girls ages 12 to 18. "Think of how you would want to be approached," she suggests, "[Teens] don't like to be talked down to."

And take heed, because this is one big market. According to YM magazine, young women ages 12 to 24 spend a whopping $7.9 billion on clothing alone.

When watching for trends with teen and tween girls, the best place to start is in your own backyard. Readey says the biggest fashion-trend influences on teenage girls are each other. "[They pick things] they think are sort of quirky to try within their own peer group," says Readey.

Watch what the teens in your town are wearing and saying-you may have to stock up on the latest glittery hair thingy if your local young'uns decide it's just what they're looking for.

In & Out

In:

"Tween" girls ages 9 to 12 have money to burn, and they love:

  • tie-dye
  • Christina Aguilera
  • glitter nail polish
  • jean jackets
  • Hanson
  • clogs
  • rolling
  • book-bag-cases

Out:

  • Jewel
  • cargo pants
  • fake tattoos
  • Ricky Martin
  • platform shoes
  • Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Spice Girls
  • extreme sports
  • the color pink