Yankee Group says that the tween market is the next new growth opportunity for wireless carriers. The tween market, defined as 8- to 12-year-olds, has 5.3 million wireless users, accounting for 2.6% of all wireless subscribers. Amongst tweens, 27% have cell phones–a penetration rate that is almost one-third that of the overall wireless industry average as of year-end 2005. In the recent DecisionNote, Yankee Group predicts that the tween market will continue to grow substantially during the next 5 years, but little will change in the composition of users within this age bracket.
Ten- to 12-year-olds will continue to dominate the market segment, making up more than 75% of the tween market. Meanwhile, 8- and 9-year-olds will continue to have low penetration because of lack of parent demand for wireless, as well as parental concerns regarding cost control and an overall hesitancy about introducing their children to cell phones at a young age.
The tween market is poised for continued growth because of multiple factors including:
— Overall market saturation is driving carriers to target underpenetrated market segments
— Operators are increasingly adopting segmented marketing practices–either directly or through MVNOs–to create more targeted devices, plans and services
— Natural evolution of technology adoption moving toward late adopters such as tweens and elderly, as wireless becomes more embedded in society
“In order to capitalize on the market’s growth potential, handset vendors and carriers must improve how they market to the tween audience,” said Marina Amoroso, Yankee Group research analyst, Wireless/Mobile United States. “Devices need to be cool not cute, and carriers should tailor family share plans to personalize their offer for tween audiences in order to appeal to both kids and parents.”
Today, carriers’ tween strategies are ill defined and ah hoc at best. They generally target tweens by adding another free phone to the family share bundle. However, there are very few unique devices, service plans or packages specifically geared to serve the needs of 8- to 12-year-olds. The DecisionNote evaluates products from Firefly, LeapFrog and LG and offers recommended tween-friendly and parent-friendly features.