The Teen Scene

November 9, 2005

As more companies notice these young consumers, the teen cosmetics market isn't just about glitter anymore

There’s no doubt about it. The influence of teenagers can be seen all over pop culture. While these young consumers have long had a hand in shaping trends and building fads, their presence is being felt more than ever and cosmetics companies aren’t the only ones trying to gain their devotion.

At 30 million strong, the teenage population is the biggest it’s been in decades and its members are becoming an important demographic to consumer good manufacturers, publishing houses and TV and radio stations alike. Companies as diverse as Maybelline and Volkswagen are tailoring their products and marketing efforts to appeal to teens. Magazines appealing to teen girls and boys such as Teen People and Rodale are being launched at an amazing rate. The power of the teen population is so great, there is even an entire TV network, the WB, devoted to their viewing pleasure.

“Teens are a lot more image conscious than we were at their age,” said Agnes Landau, vice president of marketing, Jane Cosmetics. “They have really become a group of people who are shaping popular culture and companies are recognizing this.”

When Estée Lauder acquired Jane Cosmetics a few years ago, the industry could not understand why such a prestigious, multinational company would be interested in a teen-oriented mass market brand. Never one to miss a trend, however, Estée Lauder was on to something. The Jane brand has thrived on the mass market and a slew of copycat brands have popped up since then, all targeting teenage girls.

The reason this segment has become so noteworthy in recent years is obvious. Not only is the teen population the biggest it has been since 1960, but teenagers are spending serious dollars on their beauty products. According to Teen Research Unlimited, a market research firm in Chicago, girls and boys between the ages of 13 and 19 spent more than $9 billion on cosmetics, fragrances and other beauty products last year. Their youth makes these consumers even more viable. Companies figure if they can lure these youngsters to their brands, they’ll remain loyal for the rest of their lives.

“Teens are establishing their brand preferences now,” said Dina Scamardo, co-founder of Qbeauty.com, a beauty-oriented website aimed at teens. “It makes sense for a company to get brand loyalty now. The value is exponentially greater over the span of their lives.”

With so many brands out to capture the teen shopper, many large retailers are setting up special teen-oriented sections. The latest retailer to hop on this trend is CVS which opened the Girl Lab, an area devoted to teen cosmetics, in its retail stores. These areas provide a trend, hip and edgy environment for teen-oriented brands such as Jane, Fetish, Caboodles, Kiss, Rad Cosmetics, Wet ‘n Wild, Bonne Bell and Naturistics.

In fact, this segment has become so important that even the larger, more established players are entering the arena. Revlon’s 96-item StreetWear collection ranks among the top three most popular lines among teens. Procter & Gamble has signed popular teen singer-actress Brandy to promote its Cover Girl line and Maybelline has a contract with Sarah Michelle Geller, star of the teen hit TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Even Avon, traditionally viewed as a brand favored by more mature consumers, is looking at the teen market for growth. The company recently unveiled plans to target the teen market through the internet with a new lines of products created especially for them. While further details and launch dates for this line have not yet been revealed, executives recognize the importance of this market.

“Avon’s unique strength is in direct selling and that will not change,” said Andrea Jung, chairman and chief executive. “But we also know that the Avon brand name has the potential to reach new customers in ways we haven’t done before and we are committed to developing those opportunities as well.”

What’s Hot. What’s Not.
Today’s teenager is more connected than ever before. Email, the internet, cellular phones and pagers have given teenagers, long known for their non stop phone habits, more opportunities to communicate with one another than ever before. Typical teenagers now spend 20 hours online a week and use internet buddy lists to keep in touch with their friends. This gives these consumers a forum for discussing which brands they like and don’t like.

“Teens are now exposed to much more than ever before—consumer trends, cultures, new products, influences from entertainment, fashion and technology—and because of technology, they’re exposed to it much more quickly than ever before,” said Julie Shlepr, director of product management, Bonne Bell. “Our teens grow up very well informed.”

Growing up fast has forced marketers to become more savvy in their approaches toward teens and many are examining alternative marketing efforts. Some companies have compiled vast databases of teenagers which they regularly use for focus groups and discussions when planning new products. Others are sending mass emails, posting websites and funding sponsorships. No longer will a simple magazine or TV ad do the trick. Today’s teens expect websites, emails and sampling efforts all delivered in a hip, cutting-edge manner.

“Marketing for teens is completely different from any other age group,” said John Bresler, founder and creative director, Lafco New York. “Teens want cutting-edge, fun and simple. Older consumer groups require more intense marketing with an emphasis on education. Also, in terms of makeup and colors and products, the two are very different. Teens want something that smells and looks good and are not as concerned with getting rid of wrinkles.”

Lafco recently introduced stuf., a range of cosmetic and body products for teenagers. The line was created in 1999 by Australians Lynne and Nick Chadwick who wanted a beauty line that would deliver functional, modern style and quality at a reasonable price. It includes lip color, eye color, nail color, body shimmers, bath soaks, skin lotions, fragrances, body washes and body scrubs.

“Stuf. products are a perfect example of what is hot in the teen market right now: glitter pencils, shadows, shimmer soaks and lotions,” Mr. Bresler said. “In order for a teen line to be successful, it has to focus on individuality and choice.”

Jane’s Spin Master products also reflect this trend, giving teenagers a variety of looks in each product. The Quick Stick Spin Masters eye pencils, lip colors, nail polishes and eye shadows feature two colors swirled into one so the wearer can achieve a variety of looks.

“Teens want to conform to everyone else but they want their own unique twist added to that look,” Ms. Landau said. “That’s why products such as Spin Masters, which help them create their own look are so important.”

Ms. Landau added that teenagers are looking for three major features in their beauty products—quality, fun and convenience. “Teenagers take everything with them so they really want things that are easy to carry. They are never home so they need products that they can take with them.”

Another trick, marketers claim, is turning teens onto a trend before it goes mainstream. “You really have to use your imagination and think like a teen,” Ms. Landau said. “Once a trend hits big time, these teens don’t want it anymore because that’s what people are expecting. They don’t want to be using the same products as their mothers.”

Glitter has been a mainstay of most teen cosmetics lines but has now evolved into all over body shimmer, a light dusting of sparkly powder teens can apply over their entire bodies. “Glitter is now a basic of any wardrobe,” Ms. Landau said. “It’s no longer a fad. It’s still significant and I’m sure we’ll see a lot of it for holiday but a lot of teens are looking for other special effects like glow-in-the-dark products.”

Branching Out
Where once color cosmetics and body washes were the key staples in any teen cosmetics line, now companies are expanding their lines tailoring a wide range of cosmetic and personal care products for teen consumers.

“With the demographics being so high, a lot of companies that may have normally not looked at teens are now zeroing in on them,” said Irma Zandl, president of the Zandl Group. “Kids are growing up faster and they’re interested in cosmetics at a younger age. These young consumers are so much more narcissistic, making them a lot more concerned about this category. When you get older, it’s not quite as important.”

Many companies are targeting the teen market to diversify their consumer base. Hoping to build on the success of the Ralph clothing line, Ralph Lauren Fragrances has launched its first fragrance aimed at young consumers, Ralph, a fruity scent.

“Ralph Lauren Fragrances opted to go after the teen market for many reasons,” said Rachel Low, director of public relations, Ralph Lauren Fragrances. “First and foremost this group of young adults is the fastest growing, highest spending female segment of the market. It is also a perfect opportunity for Ralph Lauren Fragrances to diversify the fragrance franchise by attracting this new, young, casual female audience to the house of Ralph Lauren.”

To attract this audience, RLF will use several non-traditional marketing stra-tegies including internet advertising and an innovative sampling program. “We will have a traditional vial with a fun, colorful daisy attached to the top as well as scented feather snap bracelets as promotional items,” Ms. Low said.

Ralph Lauren is not the only fragrance house interested in teens. Tommy Hilfiger Toiletries, a division of Aramis, is extremely popular among teenager with its tommy girl and Freedom fragrances. Other hits among teens include Clinique Happy and Liz Claiborne’s Candy’s Scent, according to teen market watchers.

While Jane has always tried to attract teens, the brand recently made an unprecedented move in the category with the introduction of good skin, a skin care line comprising simple products with natural ingredients for teenagers. It is the first skin care line aimed specifically at teens, according to company executives.

“Teens are very savvy about skin and skin care ingredients,” Ms. Landau explained. “They are a lot more image conscious and they want to keep their skin in good shape.”

The line comprises cleansing gels, face scrubs, masks, toners and moisturizers for normal, gentle, oily and combination skin. Prices range from $4.50 to $9.99.

Tween Scene
Just as teens are getting more savvy, younger children are becoming more attuned to makeup and beauty products. Already these consumers, or their parents, are spending $940 million a year on health and beauty aids and this figure is expected to rise as the population grows. Census estimates expect the number of U.S. children between the ages of 5 and 14 to reach 40.4 million by 2003.

This population is not only growing in size but in sophistication as well and the success of mass market children-oriented brands such as L’Oréal Kids and Suave Kids has proved they want their own personal care products. Now more companies are entering the fray trying to create products tailored exclusively for this younger group.

“Children are exposed to much more these days via the internet and through advances in technology, making them more sophisticated,” said Grace Tallon, vice president marketing, Kiss Products. “They have a greater influence on household purchase decisions and can even tell mom what beauty products are really cool.”

While traditional makeup such as eyeliner or rouge may not be appropriate for these youngsters, marketers are developing more simple and fun forms of cosmetics for this age group. These products are often based on an already popular brands or are sold with fun, keepsake items.

The Cosrich Group is currently launching a Barbie personal care and cosmetics line targeted toward this market. The line includes 40 products including bath and body products, nail color and lip shimmers packaged in cool colors and shapes with collectible charms. Disney has also launched a line of personal care products through a license with Kiss Products. This line includes two kits, a purple sequined box or a pink fuzzy box filled with nail and lip products priced at $15 each. There’s also an Eeyore kit with toe spacers, a nail file and two nail polishes.

Still, there are challenges to attracting these groups who, on one hand don’t want to be treated like babies, but on the other hand want products that are fun and easy to use. “Tweens are a more difficult target, they appear to be older and therefore don’t like to be marketed to as ‘kids’; they like to shop the larger brands such as Cover Girl and Maybelline,” Ms. Tallon added.

Marketers are betting that children will be drawn to these products that are tailored exclusively for them and their parents will help pay for them.

“A mother who spends $30 for a makeup brush for herself is not going to have a problem spending $8 on a shampoo for her kids,” said Pirooz Sarshar, executive vice president, Jungle Care.

Jungle Care is a prestige hair care line aimed at children ages 5-14. Company executives claim it is the first luxury hair care line designed with these children in mind and they are hoping the line’s simple, sophisticated packaging and natural ingredients will help it become a mainstay in this segment. “There is nothing being marketed to these kids on the luxury market,” Mr. Sarshar said. “We want to establish ourselves as the luxury brand for kids.”

The collection includes products for girls, boys and both. Each product is based on an animal found in the jungle. For instance, Cheetah is a tear-free shampoo containing chamomile, comfrey and cornflower and Fish is a swimmer’s shampoo with jojoba oil extract, grapefruit seed extract and aloe vera.

Jungle Care took care not to base the products or their packaging around fads and gimmicks. There are no give-aways or characters featured with the products which are simply being promoted for their superior ingredients and formulas.

“Kids are growing up fast and developing their own sense of style and individuality at a much earlier age. Their personal care products should enhance good grooming and hygiene habits,” Ms. Sarshar said.

Will the Teen Market Grow Up?
The U.S. market is now experiencing a major economic boom and people have extra money to spend. And what better way to spend it than on their teenage children? Teens are getting larger allowances today than ever before and a sizable portion of these funds are being poured into the cosmetic and personal care market.

This, coupled with the immense size of the teenage population, will lead to a continued expansion of the teen market, according to industry experts. Sales of teenage beauty products are expected to reach $10 billion in 2001 and more lines, more products and more marketing strategies are appearing daily to lure teens.

“This market is here to stay and will continue to expand,” Ralph Lauren Fragrances’ Ms. Low said. “They have tremendous disposable income and are part of a population expected to grow 11% by 2005.”

Most of the manufacturers Happi spoke to agreed that this growing population will provide more opportunity for those interested in selling their wares to teenagers. While, like everything, this population growth is cyclical and bound to level off at some point, beauty-conscious teens will remain an important consumer to these companies.

And since teenagers will always be overly concerned with their looks, cosmetic and personal care companies surely won’t count them out anytime soon.