“GLOBAL TWEENS” In the Current Orthodontic Market Place

Today’s children are increasingly aware and well informed, and have become decision-makers in their own right. “Global Tweens” between the ages of 8-14 are much more sophisticated and savvy than prior generations. They are the first generation to be raised totally in the digital age of computers, DVD’s, ipods, cell phones, text messaging and the ever expanding Internet. It is easy to underestimate their highly developed preferences and the effect they have on global marketing, especially since they do not like being treated like children and play a big part in the decision making process, along with their parents.

According to Martin Lindström, a leading expert on branding, 80 percent of all global brands now deploy a ”tween strategy.” This shouldn’t surprise you, given that the age group is estimated to be directly involved in spending $15 billion a year and to ”heavily influence” more than $30 billion in other spending by parents, including cars and appliances.
I hope you are still with me here because the truth be told, “Global Tweens have a huge impact on which orthodontist their parents choose to create the beautiful smile that is so important in today’s image conscious society”. Not only do these kids want straight teeth, they want to go to the coolest orthodontist in town and the orthodontist that all their friends are going to for treatment. 

“Global Tweens” aren’t concerned about the cost or quality of treatment. They are concerned only with their orthodontist being on the “A” list. Gone are the days of most parents making a decision based solely on the recommendation of their general dentist. Parents today listen to recommendations of friends, what their child wants and also who their dentist recommends. They often schedule more than one new patient consultation. If the parents are relatively comfortable in both offices and you are not on their child’s “dream team” list, guess what?? You lose!!  If parents are going to spend upwards of $4500 to straighten their kid’s teeth, they want to be sure their child is happy and motivated to cooperate with their final choice of treatment provider.  

How do you market to a “Global Tween”? Easy….surround them in a comfortable and friendly environment that both they and their parents will enjoy. Here are a few suggestions:

  • During the initial phone contact and mail correspondence, highly recommend viewing your interactive website that teaches them about orthodontics, what the office looks like and what to expect before their first appointment. Fun games and the ability to switch computer generated colored locks, on virtual braces, is a great way to get their attention.
  • Hook up an online computer in the reception area that they could surf on the Internet, (child lock software, of course) watch DVD’s in the movie room (G or PG, to please the parents) or play non violent games in the video arcade, while waiting to be escorted to their treatment chair by the operatory assistant.
  • Toss in flat screen TV’s (age appropriate content only) in the treatment area, monthly contests with the possibility of winning money for a shopping spree to the mall, and you have a winner.
  • Top it off with a fun and friendly orthodontic team and a chair at each treatment area for the parent to monitor the appointment and easily ask questions of doctor and/or operatory assistant.

Voilá…. you now have the basics of a winning combination!

You may think I am exaggerating, but think about the most popular orthodontic practices in your area, or better yet, in the country. These practices are featured frequently in orthodontic publications.  If you decided that the added whistles and bells are not necessary in your marketing plan to provide quality orthodontic care to your patients, you are right. But to a Global Tween, your target market …. think again! 

The question I am going to propose to you now is this. Are you going to market to the current digital generations of the 21st century or be left behind?  Run of the mill, orthodontic marketing strategies and tactics that fail to attract the new blood necessary to maintain a strong and viable orthodontic practice, in a highly competitive market, won’t cut it much longer!

The choice is yours. It’s time to make a decision. Be a successful Orthopreneur™.