From the December 2001 issue of Entrepreneur

Kids are hot. We've said it before, and we'll say it again. How hot? Oh, how does $290 billion in influence spending (what parents buy at kids' urging) and about $36 billion in primary spending (what kids buy with their own money) sound? The U.S. Census projects there will be more than 38 million children under age 9 in the United States in 2005. Add in tweens (age 9-12), and you've got nearly 55 million youngsters exploring the coolest trends.

Video games are still way hot. Look for Microsoft's Xbox and the Nintendo GameCube to enjoy superpopularity, along with the still hot Sony PlayStation, predicts Gene Del Vecchio, founder of CoolWorks, a child marketing consultancy in Valencia, California, and author of Creating Ever-Cool: A Marketer's Guide to a Kid's Heart (Pelican).

High-end playthings are also gaining in popularity. Luxurious playhouses and BMW skateboards are on the map, even if on the fringe. (Visit www.poshtots.com or www.barbarabutler.com for some children's style splurging.) Even if kids don't buy the expensive stuff en masse, companies are still getting a head start on branding themselves. When those kids can afford things like a BMW car, they'll already be keen on the brand, speculates Julie Halpin, CEO and founder of The Geppetto Group, a kid and teen advertising agency and marketing consultancy in New York City.

And kids are always willing to pay for things that tap into their core emotional drivers. In the case of tweens, that's desire to be a kid, but have some of the fun and glamour of being a teenager. The best products for tweens will continue to be those that work on multisensory levels, Halpin says. Some factors: "The packaging has real display value; it's interesting to look at, and it gives them a sense of play and fun." Check out Bath & Body Works' Art Stuff line as a good example of this. Also look for glittery '80s items to continue to be hot in 2002-from makeup to music, the "Me" decade is hot.

Arm yourself with this final stat: Eighty percent of kids agree with the statement "I'm in no hurry to grow up." What's really hot? Being young.

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