What I’m thinking about today:

1. Tweens buying power
2. Homeless and their cell phones
3. No more junk food in schools
4. Lionel Richie makes a beer commercial
5. This is what happens when you fire your photographers

1. Tweens want it now! Check out this report from Cassandra…tweens (10 – 12 year olds) are very influential in household spending. No surprise right? Well, what might be surprising is how they are influencing spending…and what they want. A few points that I found to be very interesting (alarming)

  1. They’re used to online commerce. 31 percent browse online. 28 percent buy! What? How? With what? Did parents just set them up with an account? Is this how the kids are doing it today? I have so much to learn.
  2. They’re individuals. There are multiple stats that point to tweens wanting to make or customize their ‘stuff’ v. owning what everyone else has.
  3. They want it now. 56 percent want instant gratification. (I would think this number would be higher.)

There have been reports and campaigns over the past 10 years that really are honing in on the power of tweens. When I first started reading about this tweens didn’t have the online, social and mobile opportunities that exist today. And they’re now in their early 20s – I.e., the millennials. It will be interesting to see what this group of tweens become, especially when you consider the online and mobile component – while we view it as a luxury (quickly becoming a ‘must’) this generation will view those functions as the norm. Personally I think this current group of tweens will be the generation that forces social media to move into commerce.

2. Still think phones are a luxury? Try being homeless. Wow, what an interesting piece on Mashable highlighting the issue of homelessness (20 out of every 10,000 people are homeless)  and the role cell phones play in helping them survive life on the streets. Think about it – your phone that you use to check Facebook, scores and movie times can be a vital lifeline to shelters, free meals, a friend’s couch or a job listing.

This article addresses what a lot of us think – how can the homeless afford a phone? Well, you don’t instantly become homeless. And most people, if you asked them, would probably list their phone/computer as the last thing they’d give up. Even without a data plan you can tap into a wireless network and send emails, browse online, etc.

So next time you’re asked if you can spare some change, think…it might not be going toward a cup of coffee. It might be going toward minutes.

3. Goodbye Zebra Cakes. When I was in high school we had this great a la carte offering where you could buy all that and a bag of chips. Seriously. They had Little Debbie Zebra Cakes. Fudge Browies. Slim Jims. Chocolate milk. And then we got a pop machine. (It’s ok, they sold juice in it too.) Well, kiss all that goodbye. The government is introducing its ‘Smart snacks in school’ nutrition initiative. It’s all that and a low-fat bag of chips. You can get granola. Fruit cups. Peanuts. What impact will this have on childhood obesity? I don’t know. I still think it starts at home – and not in a judging kind of way. Last I checked I don’t think any parent wants their kids to be overweight. But it’s up to parents to look for alternatives that match their lifestyle. If you’re running from one activity to another, it’s not a great idea to hit McDonalds every night. Pack extra PB&J, carrot sticks and granola bars. Is it the best? No. But is it better than french fries? Sure. Also, eliminate the pop. There’s really no reason for kids to be drinking pop.

I think if you adopt these standards at home your kids are more likely to live them at school or at a friend’s house. My parents didn’t allow me sugary cereals or pop. So when I went to a friends house I chose the  parent’s cereals (Chex, Wheaties) and passed on the Trix. It’s the subtle things that will make big differences.

4. Lionel Richie makes for a great beer commercial. Who knew? If you ever wondered what a beer commercial would look like with Lionel Richie in it…well, here you go. And it’s as awesome and as funny as you imagined it to be. The ad is for Tap King (personal keg system) and it captures, perfectly, that feeling you have when there’s just nothing in the fridge that interests you. Keep your bikini girls, talking frogs, beaches and clydesdales. Give me Lionel Richie any. Day.

5. What happens when you fire your photographers? Man, from the bad timing department. You just fired your photographers, Chicago Sun-Times…and then your city’s team wins the Stanley Cup. Guess there’s not such a thin line between professional photographers and reporters with cell phones, as this side by side comparison shows. Might want to consider other ways to save money Sun-Times.