Teens and tweens are the candy connoisseurs, and while a marketing distinction needs to be made between the two—ultimately—they will be targeted as the Millennial Generation.
Not only are teens and tweens tied with kids as candy’s biggest fans (but with more money to spend than kids), they are smack in the middle of a powerful generation that has been likened to the coveted baby boomer market.
This up and coming generation is the Millennial Generation, a generation nearly as large as the baby boom and filled with as much potential, according to experts. Other names that have followed them include the Internet Generation, Echo Boomers, the Boomlet, Nexters, Generation Y, the Nintendo Generation, the Digital Generation, and in Canada—the Sunshine Generation. But several thousand of them sent suggestions about what they want to be called to Peter Jennings at abcnews.com—and “Millennials” was the obvious winner.
While this generation is made up of those born from the early 1980s until 2000, experts say the most influential years for this generation are from the ‘90s on—which means the teens and tweens of right now. The reason this segment is so special—they’re the first generation to grow up surrounded by digital media; the Internet to them is like the telephone to baby boomers.  
This group is a happy bunch, and it’s no wonder. From the moment they were born, they were made to feel special. They’re the ‘Babies on Board’ of the Reagan years and the ‘Have You Hugged Your Child Today’ of the Clinton years, according to Neil Howe and William Strauss, generation experts and authors of “Millennials Rising.”
The teens and tweens of this era are extremely brand-conscious, with a lot of money to spend. The number of tweens and teens in the United States will grow to 50.5 million by the year 2007, and their spending power will reach $243 billion, according to a 2002 research report by Datamonitor.
While it might be advantageous to look at their collective spending power, it is imperative that marketers segregate teens from tweens (and tweens from kids) when targeting them with items such as candy.
“Tweens may want the candy of their older brother and sister, but they certainly don’t want to have that of their younger siblings,” points out Rich Hollander, president of Buxton, a market research firm in Fort Worth, Texas.
The first order of business when marketing these groups is to define the ages of tweens versus teens. Most market research, including much of the research reported in “The Great Tween Buying Machine,” by David Siegel, Timothy Coffey and Gregory Livingston, defines the tween segment as aged eight to 12. Other variations have been encountered, of course, especially when product marketing is involved.
The important thing is to realize that “psychologically, there are huge differences between teens, tweens and kids,” says Jennifer Goodman, managing director of the Geppetto Group, based in New York City. The way Geppetto defines tweens and teens is environmentally—mostly in terms of where they are in school, according to Goodman. Typically speaking, “kids” are in elementary school, “tweens” are in junior high, and “teens” are in high school. But she recognizes that from a marketing perspective, that might not be advantageous, especially with the tween group that might be enrolled in a junior high with only a three-year span.
“What we found is that you can’t market to a 12- to14-year-old group, it doesn’t make sense, it’s not a big enough market,” she says. “So the bullseye might be 12 to 14, but we advise marketers to extend it to something like nine to 15.”
While teens are typically more emotionally mature and like to be challenged in product advertising, tweens are just the opposite—and the advice is not to make it too hard for them to understand. “Tweens are constantly in a state of living up to expectations, both mentally and emotionally, and if they don’t understand something, they see that as an indication that they’re not old enough or mature enough to get it,” explains Goodman. “So rather than go through the embarrassment of admitting that, they’ll say they don’t like it or that it’s ‘stupid.’ Marketers, therefore, really need to do their homework first with this group.”
As for target media, the Internet is a no-brainer for the teens and tweens of this Millennial Generation. Both groups also “skew closer to cable-type networks,” according to Rob Frankel, a branding expert based in Los Angeles.
Marvel Comics and music labels are hot buttons with this group too—candy marketers would be wise to get creative using these types of “alternative media” for teens and tweens.
Measuring the Market (ages 8-19)
Population Size: 41 million
Percent of the Population: 14.5%
Percent Growth Forecast by 2010 (ages 5-19): 0.8%
Teen/Tween  Marketing Don’ts
1. Don’t make them do any homework when buying candy. Teens and tweens should know immediately what confectionery products are all about.
2. Don’t trivialize their world or talk down to them in advertising. Marketers who inadvertently make fun of a teen’s or tween’s world won’t last a day. This group is overly sensitive and are looking for candy products to alleviate stress, not add to it.
Merchandising Mandates
• Teens of the Millennial Generation are crazy about mints, say many industry observers. They are at that age when the dual-function of tasting good and freshening their breath are equally important. Experts would like to see more mints targeted directly to teens, or at least positioned that way in-store.
• The Internet is a marketing gold mine for teens and tweens, and candy brands have a real opportunity to get creative here. David Morrison, president of TwentySomething, Inc., based in Philadelphia, and author of "Marketing to the Campus Crowd," recommends interactive video games, such as Candystand.com, as a merchandising vehicle for product placement and awareness to these groups. "It’s simply a matter of reaching out to these Internet content developers," he says.
• Although not as fickle as kids, and much more brand-loyal, teens and tweens like to see new candy items often. Remember: They are candy’s biggest fans and often times are spending their own money to have the "coolest" kind. Merchandise must therefore be kept fresh, and rotated often.
• Teens are extremely brand loyal with over 50 percent of teens purchasing the same brand on two out of the last three shopping trips, across all brand categories.
• 75 percent of teens come from families with dual incomes.
• U.S. teens influence $240 billion in household spending
• 77 percent of teens urge their parents to buy specific brands.
• There are an estimated 10 million teens shopping online in the United States, and they will spend $1.2 billion online annually.
SOURCE: New Media Communications Survey
Ages Now: 3-23
Outlook: Hopeful
Work Ethic: Ambitious
View of Authority: Relaxed, polite
Relationships: Loyal
Life Perspective: Civic
Compelling Messages of their Formative Era:
"Be smart—you are special."
"Leave no one behind."
"Connect 24/7."
"Achieve now!"
"Serve your community."
Source: Claire Raines Associates (Claire Raines is the author of "Connecting Generations.")