It's no secret that Generation Z — comprising of those born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s — has rapidly usurped millennials as being the most covetable demographic to which brands are trying to sell. Where the beauty industry is employing "microinfluencers," fashion companies are investing in heightened brick-and-mortar experiences and seamless online shopping. Media coverage has shifted, too; need we discuss the cultural and political impact Teen Vogue has made in the months following the presidential election?
That's why Bauer Media, which publishes such newsstand titles as Closer, InTouch and J-14, is betting big on Gen Z business — and literally so. On Monday, WWD reported that the European media company, headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, is set to expand its youth division with Teen Boss, a new quarterly magazine for entrepreneurs aged eight-15.
"Generation Z is all about dreaming big," Brittany Galla, Bauer Media's Teen Group editorial director, told Fashionista via email this week. "With the influence of 'Shark Tank' and social media, we're seeing a huge increase of tweens and teens who are looking to create their own business or dream about running their own business one day."
Even a year ago, Teen Boss may have been considered too niche for the Gen Z media diet — especially considering that the publication will live entirely on newsstands, which, in 2017, isn't exactly teenage stomping ground. But Galla described that after enacting a mountain of market research, Bauer realized there was a gap in the market that no youth-minded publication was filling explicitly. But there was a need for it.
"I arranged focus groups with teens anywhere and everywhere — from meeting with local Girl Scout troops to meeting a dance class at an ice skating rink — to pick their brains. I also spend a lot of time on Instagram looking at what tweens are posting and talking about," said Galla. "More and more, I noticed these girls marketing themselves and what they were trying to sell (like jewelry or slime), and I was amazed by their hustle, even providing their Paypal links to be paid!"
"Shark Tank" was a huge point of inspiration for Teen Boss, and that started in the classroom; Galla explained that in a number of focus groups she conducted, she heard young women talking about a "'Shark Tank' Hour" they had at school in which they pitch their business ideas to their classmates.
"When I was growing up, it seemed like everyone wanted to be a teacher, or a veterinarian," said Galla. "Now, I heard 'app creator,' 'chef on YouTube' or 'CEO.' These girls want to establish a brand — or make themselves into a brand — with their social media channels, and I was just blown away by their ideas."
The entrepreneurship is already there, as is the desire for instruction and resources, but is a print product the best way to reach such young consumers who live digitally? For Galla, there's no doubt in her mind. In 2016, Bauer launched five print magazines in its "tween/kid category" and to "great success." "While our digital side has also seen amazing growth, we are still committed to print," she said.
Galla explained that Teen Boss's print format will allow for more experimentation in its form and content, much of which can be removed from the book and used functionally.
"In the first issue, you'll see a 'make your own business cards' template, a goal page where readers can write down their goals and hang it up on their mirror or locker, and even a guide to making their own vision board," said Galla. "We give readers inspirational quotes, posters and different cutouts so that they can pick and choose what they want on their own vision boards. I definitely think there will be a lot of fun with cutting and taping for readers who pick up the issue."
And while the empowerment of young readers is plainly a good thing, was Galla expecting for any sort of pushback from parents advocating to "let kids be kids?"
"I heard from many parents who told me that something like this was missing on the newsstand, and that it's harder for teens/tweens to make money the traditional ways (i.e., the newspaper route)," said Galla. "Now with social media, there are new ways that tweens can make their own money, but many don't know where or how to start."
Galla offered an example from Teen Boss's debut issue in which the magazine featured a young woman with Down syndrome who, when she had trouble finding paid work, decided to start her own cookie business at age 26.
Bauer appears to be fully invested in the Teen Boss product, devoting five full-time editors to the first issue, plus two freelancers, along with a photo and art team.
"With Teen Boss, you won't find a magazine quite like it on the newsstand," said Galla. "There's nothing on the market right now that's talking business with teens, and we aim to be that real-talk cheerleader for them."