Identified as a new and growing market sector in the 1990s, 10-13 year olds are increasingly targeted with new products. These so-called tweenagers may not respond as enthusiastically as hoped, however. Understanding their aspirations while protecting adult brands will be a demanding task.

Britvic Soft Drinks, the second largest soft drinks company in the UK after Cadbury-Schweppes, has launched a new brand aimed predominantly at the under 16s. The new product, Freekee Soda, is a carbonated drink containing 4% skimmed milk and 7% fruit juice. It is fortified with calcium, contains no added sugar and according to Britvic provides a "smoother drinking sensation".

Freekee Soda is targeted at consumers of carbonated soft drinks generally but at children and tweenagers more specifically. Tweenagers - those in the 10-13 year old category - have been touted as a hot marketing opportunity in recent years as both their income and their influence over their parents has risen.

Although Britvic claims that Freekee creates a new soft-drink category, it will be competing against Coca-Cola's Alive, launched last year and aimed at the same consumer segment. According to Britvic, children - who are the most important soft-drink consumers - "are constantly looking for something new, exciting and different".

However, Britvic may find that marketing to tweenagers is a tricky business. Recent thinking paints the sector as more complex than originally thought. Tweenagers are often characterised by aspirations to seem more grown-up, and quickly move on from brands aimed at children or indeed teenagers to adult brands. In the case of soft drinks, for instance, they may abandon Alive in favor of Coca-Cola.

For similar reasons, Tweenagers often avoid brands that target them specifically as they seek to be associated with more 'mature' ones. However, marketing such brands to tweenagers can alienate older consumers. For this reason, manufacturers who wish to target the segment should consider the use of 'stepstone brands', to which tweenagers can aspire, but which do not impinge on the image of adult products. Related Research: Datamonitor, "Tweenagers - New Consumer Insight" (DMCM0131)