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small change creating a tween oasis at the mall
Small ChangeCreating a Tween Oasis at the Mall

Great start. I immediately know where you’re going.


Too much.


Launched in 2002, Small Change is a new retail concept targeted at tweens. Emphasizing “extreme-value” and “trend-right” products, Small Change offers tweens a place to spend their own hard-earned money on cool, timely items-- all under $5.

In an effort to understand why recent a Back-To-School radio campaign for Small Change failed to impact sales, a combination qualitative-quantitative online study was completed. This methodology allowed for quick and inexpensive insight into the target’s frame of mind and a better understanding why the spots did not motivate. In the end, we were able to glean strategic and tactical feedback with which to improve the radio creative.

But we already know all of this. So what’s new?

reading between the lines
Reading Between the Lines

Now that we have figured that part out, it only makes sense to review the feedback that came directly from our target audience to see what else they might be telling us.

And as we take another look at what these kids were actually saying, a bigger picture starts to emerge.

What can we learn from this study that might impact

our marketing strategy for the future?


This could maybe just have been:

Mum = not cool

Lesson #1

Let’s face it: if Mom suggests a particular store,

it just couldn’t possibly be cool enough for a tween.


Lesson #1

  • “Maybe they could advertise specific stuff like eye shadow…my mom doesn’t really want me to wear makeup but is lip gloss really makeup?”
  • When asked why a respondent disliked the spot: “My Mom liked it, it sounds like music she listens to”
  • “My mom says that if it was the same stuff they sell in like Target only cheaper we would go there. (But) if my friends were going to listen to this it would definitely need a good song or maybe some kind of sports player because that is what they like”

Lesson #2

Tweens loves to accessorize and individualize, and

Small Change has all the stuff to help them do just that.


Lesson #2

  • “I want to go see what makeup they have and what posters for my room cause I’m doing room over soon”
  • “(That stuff is important) b/c it shows who we are and what we like. As far as accessories go (they are) a must to distinguish yourself”
  • “It’s just fun to be creative”
  • “(I would like to hear that the store has) random things that other people don’t have”

Lesson #3

To a tween, “cool” way outranks “value” in terms of importance in their lives.


Lesson #3

  • “ The (Back-To-School) commercial was for back to school stuff and … school stuff is boring sometimes”
  • “It also named a lot more things that would interest people like the napoleon dynamite book bag and the glittery pen”
  • “The Napoleon Dynamite part was good…it made the store seem cool because the movie was cool”
  • “(Hearing about) hair stuff, fun hats & scarves, crafty stuff/scrapbooking stuff (would make Small Change sound cool)”

Lesson #4

In the Epic Struggle of boys vs. girls….

it’s still boys vs. girls


Lesson #4

  • “(It) was too girly…they should do an ad for the guys”
  • “Maybe they could advertise stuff like…cell phone accessories in girly colors”
  • “Just like the makeup will get the girls attention, sports will get the guys attention”
  • “I really like the makeup part”
  • “(the part about) the poo for the principal was good too…guys think poo is funny”
so what does this all mean for small change
So what does this all mean for Small Change?
  • We must revisit and protect the integrity of the original retail concept.
  • And that means leaving Mom out in the cold.
stop right there we already know what you re thinking
Stop right there. We already know what you’re thinking.
  • Leaving Mom out in the cold??? Never.
  • There may well come a time that we will recommend a tiered marketing strategy that allows for specific communication directly to Mom. But while we are in a brand building stage with a limited marketing budget, our greatest strength will come from making our core audience- the tweens themselves- our evangelists.
  • Spreading our resources too thin will only weaken
  • our brand in the minds of our crucial target.
  • Use a pull-through, tween marketing strategy to keep the cool.
  • Streamline GRPs, messaging and attitude to target tweens only; don’t split media weight between them and their Moms.
  • Appeal to kids’ desire to express themselves creatively.
  • Draw kids into the store by driving the products that enable them to make a personal statement while allowing the value message to be conveyed by “everything from $1 to $5”.
  • Leverage the opportunity to focus on more appealing items for each boys and girls separately: pranks and sports for boys, make up and accessories for girls.

Tweens are constantly being dragged by Mom to stores to get the stuff they “need” for a good value. But they have no where to turn for the stuff they “want”.

By speaking only and specifically to tweens, Small Change becomes their refuge from the boring shopping they do with Mom.

Let’s set our sights on getting tweens to beg Mom to take them to the mall so they can shop at Small Change.

When that happens, everyone wins.

Let Small Change be the cool place that “gets”

tweens and how they express themselves.

thank you

I know this is based on a project you’d already done and it kind of shows because you’re making reference to other stuff - like commercials. This makes it slightly hard to follow.

The thinking’s good. The strategy seems sound. The insights about the kids are good but it could all have been shorter, more direct, more impactful.

Thank You