The youth market is hotly pursued by scores of brands in so many industries—from entertainment and fast food to retail. And it's no wonder, when the prize is kids', tweens', and teens' combined spending power approaching $40 billion, according to self-reported data collected by C&R Research's YouthBeat service (which I head up).

Recognizing the potential is one thing. Employing accurate and targeted intelligence to shape the most effective marketing strategies to realize it is another. That's because the youth demographic is fraught with myths, half-truths, and the kind of conventional wisdom that leads to conventional marketing.

To help you rethink, reframe, or reinvent your efforts to be more in line with the real needs of youths and their families, here are five common myths busted—or at least clarified.

1. Mom's approval is the kiss of death

The idea that we should never tell kids that a product is healthy, educational, or responsible, especially if endorsed by a parent, has been the basis for many youth marketing campaigns over the years.

However, today's parents and children actually have more in common, and they agree on more things, than ever in recent memory.

Take music. You once could count on seeing considerable discord in musical taste between young people and their parents. Instead, our surveys find that 85% of kids, 76% of tweens, and 66% of teens commonly listen to music with their parents.

Parental approval is something youths are motivated to acquire. They respect parental opinion on everything from fashion to fitness, our research finds.

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Amy Henry is vice-president of youth insights at C&R Research, Chicago, and head of its YouthBeat insight service. Reach her at and the YouthBeat blog.