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Teen Green

Position your business to sell teenagers what they'll just die if they can't have.

Teens are sooo money. All right, all right-that slang is so five years ago. What are teenagers all about in 2002? What will break among the 31 million U.S. teenagers and cash in on the more than $155 billion teen market?

Because driving is way high on teens' priority lists, look for retro-style cars like the PT Cruiser Convertible and the Mini Cooper S to make a big splash. Hovering in the $18,000 to $20,000 range, these cars are accessible coolness. "These vehicles combine the trend of the desire for self-expression and the ability to get a wonderful value at the same time," says David Morrison, founder of TwentySomething Inc., a youth marketing consulting firm in Radnor, Pennsylvania.

Transportation on smaller wheels will continue to be hot, as skateboard parks flourish into 2002. "Many towns are outlawing skateboarding and inline skating within the town itself," says Morrison, "so towns are providing an outlet for skateboarding and fun by building parks in [designated] areas."

As far as the latest in pop culture chic, watch the glittery '80s era flourish in 2002. All things Hispanic will also penetrate every aspect of teen culture. From fashions and food to music, look for Latino culture to slowly replace the urban chic of years past.

But for what's really hot, look to the Web. Of the 13 million teens online, 74 percent use instant messaging (compared to 44 percent of adults), according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Teens use the Net more than ever before to chat, download music-they're even breaking up online. "[Teens] are multitasking-they're instant messaging, watching TV, listening to the radio and flipping through a magazine at the same time," says Larry Adams, account director of PopSmack, a youth Web marketing firm in Los Angeles. Look for an even greater proliferation of teenage Web logs and personal Web sites in 2002 as well.

The key thing to remember? "Don't just talk at this demographic," says Adams. "You really need to open a two-way dialogue with them."

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This article was originally published in the December 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Teen Green.

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