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Power of the pre-teen dollar Featured

5:31am EDT July 19, 2002

Goggans, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Lake Erie Council, in November discussed society's effect on young women at the Cleveland Women's City Club and asserted that retailers incorrectly think of teens as their largest customers. The reality, she says, is that "kids are getting older younger."

"Research shows that pre-adolescent children (between the ages of eight and 12) exert an unprecedented amount of influence on family purchasing decisions -- on cars, computers and software," says Goggans. "Children now have more disposable income. Their average allowance by the time they reach high school is $50 per week."

Business owners have quickly responded to what Goggans calls age compression.

"Marketing strategies are now aimed at children hoping they will wed to a brand early," she explains.

In 1997, teen-age girls spent $708 million on fragrance for themselves and an additional $420 million to give it as gifts. In the same year, eight-to-12-year olds had direct influence over $128 billion in family spending.

Says Goggans wryly, "Yes, kids did invent the minivan."

Courie Weston