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Kidding Around

Kids aren't just our future--they're fueling a billion-dollar market that has nowhere to go but up.

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This story appears in the September 1999 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Everywhere you turn these days, there's something about Generation Y. You've read enough studies about this new wave of kid consumers to know they're the hot new market, and you're excited because you think you have a good grasp of what they want.

But do you? The one thing you must understand about the boomers' children's market: This group, the "echo boom," is growing up in very different times and, consequently, has very different needs. It's not enough to hand them a Barbie and a box of Legos, or sit them in front of a guy in a dinosaur suit. Kids today are more sophisticated than that. They'd rather surf the Net or chat online, play the newest Nintendo 64 game, or see the latest sci-fi action flick. "There's a lot going on in our society that's really driving [the market]," says Peter Sillsbee, senior project director of the Roper Youth Report at Roper Starch Worldwide. "Kids today are growing up in single-parent homes or homes where both parents are working. The percentages for both have actually doubled over the past 25 years."

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