We must give up our preconceived ideas of what she wants and simply ask her. Once you find a tween girl, you'll discover she has a voice and is only too eager to tell you what she is thinking, doing, saying and dreaming because, frankly, she wants adults to stop thinking for her.
Let's clear up a few common misperceptions.
1. TRUE or FALSE? If we declare it to be cool, she will buy.
Answer: FALSE. A recent example: The March 6 Forbes.com headline read, "The Next Jonas Brothers: Eight new tween stars are about to hit the big time."
While the adults who chose the top eight new stars might want them to hit the big time, according to a recent survey of 400 tween girls on AllyKatzz.com, they have a long way to go before they will earn mega-stardom. The girls were asked to comment on the list and rate the boys Forbes selected as "Hot" or "Not." A majority of the girls voted 7 out of the 8 boys, which included Sterling Knight, Kelly Blatz and Frankie "Bonus" Jonas, not hot. In fact, the "hottest" of the bunch? Lucas Cruikshank, a 15-year-old YouTube phenom from Nebraska, better known as Fred, was the only one rated "hot" (by 72% of the girls). Interestingly, Fred doesn't even have the marketing power of a media company behind him -- he captured the attention and imaginations of tween girls all by himself.
2. TRUE or FALSE? She is tech savvy and online at all times.
Answer: FALSE. Although she is computer literate and familiar with much of the latest technology, she is not tied to her computer the way adults are. Tween girls have definite opinions and preferences regarding how they want to be reached.
If you are thinking of an email blast, best to skip it. AK Tweens Pulse-Check Research reports how girls want to get mail: 58% text, 27% email and 13% snail mail.
Have a Twitter idea for them? Forget it for now because they aren't tweeting. Our research shows that 84% of girls don't even know what Twitter is and, of the girls who know it, only 5% use it.
3. TRUE OR FALSE? The only thing she cares about is her friends.
While it is survival of the fittest in the tween girl world, and "friends" do rank No. 1 for them, this doesn't mean that's all they care about. They care about education -- mainly about testing and the pressures of school. They care about Iraq and Afghanistan. They care about driving, the legal drinking age, drugs and the peer pressure they face. They care about the economy and they care about being bullied - online and off.
Tween girls are complex and are concerned about a range of topics many adults may not even have realized they are aware of. They think a great deal about the world around them and don't want to be talked down to. It's the marketers' job to stop making assumptions about what tween girls want and instead, ask them.
Tween girls will answer loud and clear, and marketers will be able to make better decisions as a result. They have voices. They want to use them. We simply need to give them the platforms to be heard.