Everything Personal

November 11, 2005

Marketers are acknowledging the purchasing power of teens wih products that suit their diverse styles.

It's a well-known fact that teen and tween personal care needs differ from other segments. It's equally well known that today's teens have more buying power than ever.

According to marketing group Teenage Research Unlimited, direct spending by 12-19-year-olds exceeded $176 billion last year. Spending by the older teen segment is expected to grow faster, with a predicted 8% jump in 15-19-year-old spending by 2010.

Though studies have revealed that a significant number of teens-especially younger kids-still rely on parents to purchase their products, teens are taking hold of the retail reins and spending on their own more and more.

This means a subtle shift in marketing strategy, even by personal care manufacturers who specifically market to teens. Marketing experts claim that with teens taking matters into their own hands, the trend is increasingly crossing over from the whimsical into the sophisticated.

Not all companies view this shift as a completely positive change. "In the cosmetics category, kids don't seem to want to be kids anymore," opined Valerie Wass, marketing director, AM Cosmetics, the makers of Wet 'n Wild products. However, Ms. Wass pointed out that there may be room for both fun and sophistication. "Teens still like to try new things, and the whimsy is definitely still there," she said, "but they're gravitating toward department stores and 'adult' cosmetics more than in the past."

This trend can be accommodated, but it sometimes entails a few changes from the marketer's end, according to Ms. Wass. "Teens today are very smart, very savvy. They know what they want," she said. "Teenagers know nice formulas from bad formulas. You can't assume you know what they want at a given time; you can't take them for granted."

Marketing research team The Geppetto Group, New York, NY, agreed that teens love glitz and fun but not necessarily overkill, and that quality is becoming increasingly important to this growing category.

"Tweens and, to an extent, older teens, are at a life stage where they are still figuring out who they are as people," said Sonya Schroeder, senior strategic planner, The Geppetto Group. "Personal care products are one way of making a statement as to whom one is as an individual. Cosmetics are a relatively safe way for a teenager to say who she is, even if aspects of that identity might change from day to day or over time."

According to Ms. Schroeder, a study by The Gepetto Group focused on talks with teens about "being themselves." "Everybody says that is important," Ms. Schroeder pointed out, "but when we scanned a good portion of the media, we did not find as many ads as you would think that really encouraged young people to be themselves."

She added that the economic slow-down coupled with the events of last September have affected teens, but in different ways than adults. "Teens do have a good disposable income," she said, "but they're a little more drawn toward being economical now as far as their purchasing choices, and they're more focused on the home, family and friends."

Given this general feeling, cosmetics offer the ideal way for teens to continue with the security of daily life and fun-geared events, while offering them quick, non-permanent and relatively inexpensive ways to explore their individual preferences. Since makeup isn't permanent, and even many hair color kits for teens are wash-out formulas, young consumers can try on different styles and personalities without making a drastic change.

Wild...But Not Too Wild
One way to add a little pizzaz to a product while maintaining a familiar feel is by using a different application method. Packaging, too, can give a funky, trendy attitude to a daily-use product.

Wet 'n Wild has always been popular with younger shoppers, partly due to the low price of the product line. But executives at the company said it isn't just money that's propelling teens to Wet 'n Wild displays. "Makeup is fun, and what's great about Wet 'n Wild is that we can offer a lot of different applications without a huge price commitment," said Ms. Wass.

Wet 'n Wild introduced Mega Eyes Shadow crayon, described as an eye chalk or crayon which applies like comparable trendy products for just $2.99. Other products to be launched by Wet 'n Wild this fall include Glassy Gloss Lip gel, a long-lasting lip gel formula that retails for $2.99, and Mega Last Lip color and gloss, also retailing for $2.99. Mega Last follows on the coattails of all-day lip products in its formulation, offering consumers the opportunity to try new products without overspending.

The company will also introduce Mega Glow Face Illuminator, which imparts shimmer with a tint of color.

"Today's teens love shimmer," Ms. Wass said. "They also love to try new things. Wet 'n Wild offers products that allow them to experiment and find colors that work for them."

Another addition to the fall lineup is Wild Shine lipstick, which comes in a pink case. "We make it easy for the consumer to immediately see and go to what she wants," Ms. Wass said. "Packaging helps us communicate with our customers."

The brand has been popular for a variety of age groups for decades; Ms. Wass owed that to competitive product forms and continual updates of its image and offerings. "We have new header images, and we've just contracted a new model," she said. "Our whole image isn't so young that it's just for teenagers; we're not exclusively high school-oriented."

However, with teens an ever-increasing segment of the personal care market, Wet 'n Wild is making a concerted effort to reach out to them. "Our target right now is attracting the older range of the teenage market," Ms. Wass said. "We're putting out a lot of glossy products, while still maintaining our traditional forms, such as wax-based lipsticks."

Fall trends for teens will include lighter lips and darker eyes, according to Wet 'n Wild executives. "Makeup is always evolving, but as long as we keep a pulse on it, we will continue to be successful," Ms. Wass said. "We keep up on what people want. We look for the right palettes and product forms that fit the current times."

Thinking Like a Teen
Getting into the mind of a teen is not always easy, but jane Cosmetics, New York, NY, keeps on top of this turbulent category by listening carefully to its wants and needs.

Competition can be fierce in teen cosmetics marketing, but jane executives have an edge competitors don't. "One thing jane has brought to the category is a full line of cosmetics," said Sarah Kugelman, vice president, marketing. "Some competitors supply just one or two categories of products, but we go across the board."

Like other marketers, jane executives have noticed the desire for fun cosmetics. "Teens don't want to wear a lot of heavy, dark makeup," said Ms. Kugelman, "but they love the fun factor, like shimmer, glitter and gloss."

By year's end, jane will have launched nine new products, including Glossy Gloss lip gloss, which is packaged in a tube with a slant applicator, and Fabulizer for Lips, a flavored, high-shine lip gloss. Fabulizer is also available in an eye shadow which is high-shimmer, crease-proof and comes in six shades.

This month, the company will launch Double Talk, "Our entry into the long-staying category," Ms. Kugelman said. "Double Talk is a lip product with a top coat that doubles as a lip plumper. It capitalizes on new technology, and we're the first to market it to teens."

Later this fall, jane will introduce Eye Zing eyeshadows with packages that link together, and Mega Mega Bytes, an extension of Mega Bytes that leans on the trend toward extreme names and flavored products. Mega Mega Bytes comes in six shades with such teen-appeal names as Mandarin Madness and Subzero Chocolate.

Jane's Fall Flirt line includes collections for "The Notice Me Look" and "The Fresh Face" Look. Teens can use collections and suggested combinations as guidelines and go from there with their own preferences.

"Self-confidence is all about being the best one can be and letting one's own style show through, rather than trying to be like everybody else," said Ms. Kugelman.

A Salon of Their Own:
Seventeen Pampers the Younger Set
Primedia Enterprises' Seventeen magazine has entered into a licensing agreement with Teen Studios Inc. to give teens a salon environment made just for them. The 8,700 square foot Seventeen Studio/Spa/Salon opened its doors on June 27 in Plano, TX. The grand opening featured a parking lot party with a performance by pop music star Jessica Simpson.

"This is a trend. Other salons will open for teens," predicted Susan Tierney, president and chief executive officer, Seventeen Studio/Spa/Salon.

The spa features 12 hair stations; manicure and pedicure areas; a makeup bar; a retail store and an internet cafe, where teens can relax with coffee, juices and snacks while surfing teen-geared websites.

S eventeen executives predict the location will bring in a broader clientele than one might think. "It's a very cool, contemporary, sophisticated environment," said Ms. Tierney. "It's not just for teens; it very much targets young adults as well."

The Studio/Spa/Salon offers makeup from three well- known and teen-friendly cosmetic lines: Hard Candy, Urban Decay and Too Faced. Other personal care products include Murad, Noodé, OPI, Redken, Paul Mitchell, Tony&Tina, Fudge and Joico.

The salon also hosts parties, including its popular Makeup 101 party. Teens can watch video music and special-trend vidoes on TVs in the wall, while a purple drape closes off the area for privacy. "In July alone, we booked 45 birthday parties," Ms. Tierney said.

All of the hair stations, as well as the manicure area, are on castors and wheel into storage to open up 3,500 square feet for events. Seventeen already books more than 200 events a year in malls across the country, according to company executives.

Seventeen plans to open a total of 37 Studio/Spa/Salon locations by the end of 2006, Ms. Tierney said. Two salons, in Dallas and Houston, are scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2003.

"The teen market is the fastest-growing segment in the economy, and we don't expect it to peak until 2010," said Ms. Tierney. "Seventeen has more than 14 million readers, so teens trust us. They know they can come to us and get a good haircut or learn more about makeup. We're the definitive source."

Brand Loyalty?
Though the younger market is notorious for being mercurial in brand choices, certain names have stood the test of time, proving brand loyalty can in fact exist for teens.

Cover Girl, which introduced its Clean Make-Up concept in 1961, believes that the appeal of certain products for teens is consistent over time.

For example, Clean Make-Up is desirable for its light, even coverage and fresh, natural look, company executives said.

Cover Girl Fresh Complexion Pocket Powder oil control foundation contains a patented dual-talc system that provides even coverage, shade uniformity and shine control, company executives said. This helps teens hide imperfections and provides an even look to the skin, something most teenagers covet.

Triple lipstick, LipSlicks lip gloss, Triple AquaStay mascara and EyeSlicks Gel eyecolor are also attractive to teens as well as adults, P&G executives said.

The company is introducing two new lines for fall: Twilighting and Shimmer Blizzard. The whimsical, festive themes should be appealing to teen consumers, while the up-to-the-minute product formulations are designed to appeal to a broad demographic.

Twilighting is a collection of shimmery, sunset-inspired shades for eyes, nails and lips; the line debuts this month. For the upcoming holidays, Cover Girl's Shimmer Blizzard color collection is "a shimmer- and sparkle-inspired collection based on silver and gold accents for lips, eyes, nail and body," said Monica Collins, manager, North American comunications, Procter & Gamle cosmetics.

Jane’s fall lineup includes Eye Zing, a collection of eye shadows with packaging that allows customers to link them together.

Like the fall runway collections, Cover Girl uses metallics for accents or overall in shade finishes. "From eyeliners to nail polishes, and especially with Outlast Shimmers Shade Enhancing topcoats, sparkle and shimmer are the focus," Ms. Collins said.

The brand relies on input from the consumers as well as market studies, according to Ms. Collins.

"For over 40 years, Cover Girl has been the brand trusted by teens and moms to provide a fun and easy way for teens to achieve a clean, fresh, natural-beauty look," Ms. Collins said. "The Cover Girl teen/tween consumer is looking for goof-proof products that are trendy and stylish, without compromising the fresh, clean look that teens want."

Beyond Color
Hair and skin care are as important to teens as makeup, according to industry professionals contacted by Happi.

Since oil control is usually a top priority for this group, skin care is becoming more of a focus for teens. Ann Marie Borlind's Young Beauty U series "clears, heals, balances and relieves" the skin, according to the company. The line includes cleansing milk, facial toner, day cream and night cream. The products help balance the skin's sebum production, prevent new breakouts and clear up current blemishes, while removing impurities.

For hair, tweens get personal attention with Suave Hair Vibe line. The products focus on the 8-12-year-old group and include berry shampoo, peach shampoo, pear conditioner, melon 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner and apple Max Hold gel. The items retail between $1.59-1.99.

Twilighting, a fall release from Cover Girl, has teen as well as adult appeal with its sparkly shades, according to executives.
HairBrain, a natural hair care line, is also geared toward tweens. HairBrain products contain no lauryl/laureth sulfates, according to company executives. The line contains vegetable extracts and mild, natural cleansing agents to protect young scalps and clean the hair gently. The products are sold in select Nordstrom stores, chain stores such as Whole Foods Market, children's salons and beauty supply stores.

From the Inside Out
Most teen marketers agree on one thing: beauty is more than physical. It is a message that is being communicated to youngsters more and more. Many industry experts agree that the future of teen cosmetics requires a holistic approach, with a celebration of individuality and a focus on pleasing one's own tastes and interests.

Avon plans a 2003 rollout of its first official teen line. Though the company was not available for comment on what products will be offered, executives said that tennis champs and sisters Venus and Serena Williams have signed an advertising contract with the company.

Such role models encompass not only physical attractiveness but strength, according to industry executives contacted by Happi.

Cover Girl's latest models "aren't just pretty faces" either, according to P&G's Ms. Collins. "(The models) have varied interests and passions that make them multidimensional role models that young women can aspire to," Ms. Collins stated. Cover Girl models include Molly Sims, Tasha Tilberg, Angela Lindvall, Queen Latifah and Patricia Velasquez.

The message to teens is clear: there is no longer one "right look," any more than there is one set of interests or one personality among this diverse and ever-changing population. As teens struggle with the search for identity, marketers are working their way through growing pains of their own, and developing products that keep getting better and better.

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