Saturday, April 4, 2009

Welcome to Tweenworld!

Today, I bought Mica the latest issue of Total Girl Magazine. From time to time, I buy her copies of the magazine to encourage her to read.

Currently, Total Girl is the only monthly glossy magazine catering to girls age 9-12 years old, or what marketers now call "tweens." According to the magazine's online media kit, a Total Girl is "fashion-conscious, values her friendships and wants to be more confident." The magazine is chock-full of tween celebrity news (Miley Cyrus, anyone?) as well as articles on fashion, hygiene and tween DIY. To date, the magazine has two stand-alone issues: the Total Girl Slambook (which Mica begged me to buy her last Christmas) and the Total Girl School Diary (coming out this month so I'm sure Mica will be using her puppy-dog eyes at me again when we go anywhere near a magazine stand).

From a marketer's perspective, the magazine is a God-send. It has a captive niche audience who is welcoming (or susceptible?) to messages that taps into the tween's need to be confident and accepted by her peers. So if a grade school Queen Bee comes to school wearing a brand of lip gloss advertised in the magazine, I'm sure that the other little darlings in the school will soon be pointing out the item to their parents in the stores. It has a lot of buzz potential because its readers talk about the magazine to their friends (tweens call them "besties" or "BFFs"), and its online equivalent,, is an online forum for tweens with nearly 8,000 members making over a million posts on various topics.

From a mom's perspective, I sometimes get concerned about the sheer volume of marketing messages that assail my daughter everytime she opens the magazine. From breakfast cereal ads, the P699 flip-flops featured in the "So Hot Right Now" section, to the girly Littlest Pet Shop game controller featured in the "Totally Hot Tech" section, trendy non-essentials find their way to my daughter's consciousness. On the other hand, the magazine has also enabled my daughter in ways that I wasn't when I was her age. It's Totally DIY section provides easy recipes for yummy treats that my little girl can make by herself (or with some help from me or her ever-loyal Yaya) or an arts and crafts project to bolster her creativity. The advice column, "TG to the Rescue," provides readers with tips on how to cope with bestie arguments, sibling rivalries, school mean girls and crushes. My favorite section is "Totally Embarassing" where readers coontribute their most humiliating experiences. Reading the faux pas made by these adolescent girls makes me remember my own embarassing moments and I'm glad that Mica has a way of knowing that she's not alone in facing the various awkward moments of growing up.

Right now, I'm considering subscribing to the magazine so Mica will have something to look forward to every month (the same way I feel about my mom's Reader's Digest). I feel that marketing message overload or no, Mica truly benefits from reading the magazine. While I hope I'm not raising a future shopaholic, I'm positive that I'm raising a happy, well-adjusted and well-informed little girl.

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