Beauty, Brains and Bright Future

November 14, 2005

Today's teens want it all.

Grow up.” “Act your age.” “Why can’t you be more like so-and-so?”

Sound familiar? Then you must have been a child in the 50s, 60s or early 70s. In generations past, the average child was encouraged to grow up before his or her time.

All that changed in the mid to late 70s, when “hands-on” parenting graduated from hippie status to status quo. No longer viewed as miniature adults, kids were allowed to be, well, kids.

Of course, there’s a reaction to every action—and true to form, the parenting pendulum is swinging again. This time it’s the teens themselves who have initiated the change.

Today’s average teenager wants to have it all: she plays, but she works at an outside job too; she has her fun, but takes care not to harm the environment in doing so. And while she may spend Saturday nights experimenting with makeup, glitter and temporary henna tattoos, she spends equal time honing her favorite skills (such as music, sports or scholarly pursuits), with an eye toward her fast-approaching future.

A Jill of All Trades
With so much fun to be had, are young girls bypassing the responsibility and forward-thinking that used to be one of the more painful hallmarks of late childhood? Not at all, according to experts. With so many choices open to today’s teens, leisure-time pursuits can be turned into lifetime goals.

For instance, Juliana, a 16-year-old from Norwalk, CT, has been approached for modelling jobs. She thinks modelling could be fun...but her dream job is to become a whale watch tour guide. Amanda, a New Jersey eighth grader, is torn between studying fashion design and becoming a lawyer. And Rahnen, 13, Park Ridge, NJ, would like to be “a professional flautist, an actress or an artist”...or possibly all three.

These goals may seem a bit extreme, but for teenagers, they’re par for the course. While young girls of the past grew up on the mantra of “act like a lady,” today’s theme is “you can be whatever you want to be.”

This do-it-all mentality can keep a girl busy. Rahnen’s pursuits include flute lessons once a week and band practice twice a week; she has a boyfriend and a gaggle of close friends to keep up with, as well as familial obligations. But she likes acting too, so she’s trying out for the school play.

“The (play) practices are at night,” she explained, “so I would only have to miss one band practice a week and I could keep up with all the rest with no problem.” “All the rest” includes homework, more than an hour’s worth a night, as well as her latest sports interest: track and field.

More power to her—and to her parents, who act as chauffeurs and financial contributors to this dizzying array of pursuits. Rahnen’s lifestyle is not unique; in fact, in suburbia, it’s pretty much typical—at least as something many teens aspire to. And for perhaps the first time in history, Mom and marketer are on the same wavelength: trying to get a grasp on what the kids of today, with such seemingly conflicting interests, really want.

Avon’s Mark catalog allows girls to pursue a career selling products they can relate to.

Kids Do Listen
Another historical first may be that young girls are listening to their mothers, at least as far as personal care is concerned. According to ZandlGroup, a marketing firm based in New York City, “grown-up” brands Clinique, Mary Kay and L’Oréal went neck-and-neck with the more youth oriented Cover Girl and Mac in popularity among 13- 17-year olds during the past five years.

It works both ways: While Mom’s appealing makeup cabinet educates her daughter on what works and what doesn’t, her need to cater to her daughter influences her own spending patterns.

Teens ages 13-19 spend $94.7 billion annually, according to the National Interactive YouthPulse study from Harris Interactive, Rochester, NY. And sometimes, it’s their own money they’re spending. While 87% of income for children under age 13 is parent-supplied, only 37% of teen spending cash comes from adult pockets.

“Generation Y’s needs and opinions drive many adult purchase decisions,” said John Geraci, vice president of youth research, Harris Interactive, “and they...represent the future market for most consumer brands.”

Of that amount, 15% of purchases are made online. To get to the remaining 85%, point-of-purchase must be attractive enough—and cheap enough—for youngsters to buy on the spot. According to Mr. Geraci, “On average, young people carry less than $30 with them” on a given shopping venture. So when teens go it alone at the store or cosmetics counter, both economy and desirability must be considered.

Mother Knows Best
It’s a different story when kids shop with Mom. Of teen girls interviewed by Happi, girls as young as 13 immediately mentioned Clinique as a department store counter of choice. Favored brands among 13-16-year olds included L’Oréal, Revlon and Proactiv, and teens readily mentioned department stores such as Macy’s as favorite shopping haunts.

Younger teens are more apt to admit to sharing beauty secrets (and products) with their mothers. Amanda, a 13-year-old from New Jersey, said she sometimes raids her mother’s makeup stash. And 14-year-old Claire, CT, occasionally tags along with her parents on a shopping spree. But 16-year-old Julianna said she neither borrows from nor shops with Mom.

Hey, Big Spender
Adults have the vastly larger disposable income, but older teens are hesitant to shop in public with them. Yet spending among 8-21-year olds polled by Harris Interactive reached $172 billion last year, up from the firm’s projection of $155 billion. Meanwhile, teen incomes are down. So where is the money coming from?

Far-thinkers such as Avon, Seventeen magazine and Repêchage Spas may have part of the answer. All offer spa and salon services that are ideal for parties or gifts, executives agreed, and are an appealing solution for getting adults in on the action.

Avon offers salon services starting at $110, teen cuts at $70 and teen facials at $98. It isn’t just the service, Avon executives said, but the education which comes along with it, that makes the services positive for teens.

“We noticed that a lot of mothers and daughters come in together,” said Yanique Griffin-Woodall, manager, public relations, Avon Salon and Spa, New York City. “It’s a ‘spend the day with mom’ kind of thing.” Mother and daughter both get what they want: while the adults receive salon services they’re comfortable with, young women get made up and coiffed by teen-geared specialists.

Professionals including Jackie Laraie, Deven Simmons and Giuliana Devuono are on hand to offer beautiful results as well as the know-how to reproduce the looks at home. Among the salon’s most popular services are Teen Lights, a series of highlighted pieces that are expertly placed on top of the girl’s head to give a natural but enhanced look; a teen haircut and a refreshing facial.

One of Avon Salon’s most popular lines is the Brad Johns Colorsave hair care line, appropriate for both adults and teenagers. The line includes hair products for blondes, brunettes or red-heads.

The education is as important as the grooming, Ms. Griffin-Woodall said.

“Our stylists recommend shampoos, conditioners and styling aids, and our aestheticians recommend cleansers, toners and moisturizers to use on a long-term basis. In addition, our makeup artists conduct makeup lessons to recommend what makeup works best for them,” she said. “Young women often come in right before they begin or go away to school, and they won’t be able to come back until the first break, which could be six or eight weeks away. We teach them a regimen they can take home.”

Urban Decay and Van’s partnered for XXX Shine lip gloss and a limited-edition Plat sidestripe shoe.

For Your Eyes (and Skin and Hair) Only
Seventeen Studio/Spa/Salon, Plano, TX, has added to the products it applies to the faces of, and sells to, its youth-culture clientele.

“We just recently added Bumble&Bumble to our hair care assortments, and it’s doing great,” said Kathy Karagin of Seventeen Studio/Spa/Salon. “Teens are all over it.”

Seventeen also carries a niche line, Deva Curl, developed by writer Lorraine Massey for girls with curly hair. Ms. Massey has been on site for seminars as well.

The salon also includes such trendy names as Too-Faced and Urban Decay. Top sellers include Too-Faced gloss compacts and plumping lip gloss, Urban Decay powders and foundations and Urban Decay makeup brushes.

“We’re beefing up our bath and body products for the holidays,” added Ms. Karagin, including “candles, body lotions and bath confetti.” The bath confetti consists of paper-like confetti pieces that dissolve into bubble bath. “There are several types, such as alphabet letters, palm trees, flamingos, rubber duckies and even dog bones. They are great gift items,” she said.

Repêchage salons are located both in the U.S. and globally. The Hydra Refine collection is for normal-to-oily skin.

Repêchage, which is popular in the U.S. at a variety of locations but also maintains services globally, offers the Hydra Refine line for normal-to-oily skin. The line is said to redefine oily skin care with a line of five products that balance the skin’s pH to control oiliness while maintaining adequate face moisture.

The Hydra Refine line includes Cleansing mousse, Astringent pads, Pore Perfecting serum, Eye Contour gel One-Minute Clarifying mask. The Hydra Refine line appeals to all ages, but a special bonus for younger shoppers is the teenage facial. At $45 for a one-hour session, the teenage facial is a three-step clinical process where the face is steamed for deep-pore cleansing preparation, followed by a gentle extraction and topped off with a soothing antibacterial mask.

Following the facial, a Repêchage makeup artist applies makeup for the perfect finishing touch, executives said. The makeup artist gives a makeup application lesson as well.

“Teen personal care is an expanding arena, and in the future we will see more and more products targeting teens not only on the consumer level, but also on the professional level,” predicted Lydia Sarfati, president and chief executive officer, Sarkii Repêchage Ltd. “Teen facials are going to be put (more and more) on spa menus.” In fact, one of Repêchage’s Spa de Beaute Concept salons, Rejuvenations, in Kansas City, “already offers Tween Spa parties where groups of 12-13-year old girls come in for manicures, pedicures and facials.”

Just for Her
What about the products at retail? When polled by Happi, many teens indicated that individuality is more a factor than ever before. In fact, many youngsters insisted that they wore clothing, makeup and accessories that they liked, no matter what the crowd was doing.

Jenna, a New Jersey eighth grader, said, “If one of my friends (objected to or made fun of) something I was wearing, I’d give her a death glare and wear the same things more.” Juliana, 16, said, “I would continue to wear the same hairstyle, makeup and clothes any time I want. It’s okay that my friends and I have different tastes.” And Rahnen’s vehement response was, “I’d laugh at her, point at her and continue to wear the same style. It doesn’t matter what she thinks about the way I look.”

This speaks well of teens’ self-esteem, but bodes somewhat more ominously for personal care product marketers. Can any one product satisfy the whole crowd?

Probably not—but there’s a way around even this, marketers claim. For example, Sephora introduced the Sephora Girls line late last year. The line contains four “personalities,” each with a different flavor and color and a variety of products.

Sephora Girls consists of four different “personalities,” with whimsical fragrances and a cartoon Girl for each.

Sephora Girls includes Strawberry candy, “(a girl who) is super-friendly and gets good grades;” Sweet Almond, the articulate class president; Chocolate Mint, who wears a pixie haircut and always sports the most fashionable clothes and Carmel, a “whimsical, modern-day hippie chick,” Sephora executives said.

Each includes pearly bubble bath, bath flakes, bath beads and body lotion; a fragrance and makeup line and accessories, such as a hairbrush, makeup bag and mirror. Items are affordably tagged at about $5-15 each.

“Teens are very choosy. They have very individual tastes,” said Allison Slater, director of retail marketing, Sephora. “Our line has a personality behind it, so she gets to choose the one that matches her own personality.”

Sephora Girls isn’t just for girls: “The line appeals to the woman who’s going through a trial phase and wants to try different colors or fragrances,” Ms. Slater said.

Another retail hit among today’s youth remains Urban Decay. This brand has made note of teens’ interest in fashion and makeup and has introduced the Urban Decay/Vans partnership. Vans, the popular shoe from the 90s, has added a limited edition Plat sidestripe to its lineup. A free, matching Urban Decay lip gloss is included in the purchase of a pair of Vans Plat sidestripe shoes.

The lip color, Urban Decay XXX Shine lip gloss, was created by Wende Zomnir, creative director of the company. “The fun, punk-rock pink of the Vans Plat shoe really inspired me to make this gorgeous XXX Shine color,” said Ms. Zomnir.

She insisted that the appeal of the lip gloss is universal—and much in demand. “Two young flight attendants accosted me on my last transcontinental flight, demanding to know what it (the lip color) was,” she recalled.

Vans is pleased with the tie-in, too. “Urban Decay’s edgy and fun attitude is the perfect match for our brand and our target customer,” said Gary Schoenfeld, president and chief executive officer, Vans. The partnership will also include a sweepstakes with a chance to win an entire year’s worth of makeup and shoes. The Vans Plat sidestripe is available at select retailers beginning this month.

Let’s Get Serious
Salons, stylists, makeup and fashion take care of the fun part of being a teen, but what about a young girl’s more serious side?

Girls interviewed by Happi expressed a variety of ambitions for the future. These included “lawyer,” “fashion designer,” “musician,” “actress,” “artist,” “model” and “foreign language specialist,” among others.

Not to worry—the cosmetics, fragrance and personal products industries are matching the twists and turns of teen preferences. For a well-rounded experience, some organizations are helping youngsters to look toward the future with confidence.

For example, Avon newly offers Mark, a selling opportunity that young women can take part in. Mark “can help young women become the chief executive officer of their own beauty business...by selling the makeup they love,” according to company executives. Young entrepreneurs can expect to draw a 40% commission on sales of all Mark products, while making friends at “social beauty parties.”

Mark also helps young women to make a difference, Avon executives insisted. With Mark’s Circle of Friends initiative, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of a sterling silver sunburst necklace go toward preventing young women from smoking or helping smokers to quit.

The Mark catalog also includes Goal Models, a collection of inspiring stories.

Products in the Mark catalog are affordably priced and are hip enough to attract girls and young women from a variety of backgrounds and interests.

The Fragrance Foundation, New York, NY, is setting its sights toward the future as well. The Foundation, in alliance with Teen Vogue and Annette Green, former Fragrance Foundation president, are reaching out to several New York City area schools to offer the Teen Vogue career initiative. The initiative invites highschoolers to speak to industry professionals about careers in R&D, marketing, packaging and design, art, communications and other future possibilities.

About 75-100 students are expected the attend the initiative, which takes place Oct. 16 in New York City. Such well-known companies as Symrise, IFF, Coty, Avon, Arkay Packaging, L’Oréal and Estée Lauder will be represented at the event.

“We’ve received a very enthusiastic response so far,” said Terry Molnar of The Fragrance Foundation. “The industry has been very supportive, and the schools are very enthusiastic.”

Round table discussions will allow students to get information on a wide range of career possibilities. The initiative is in its first year, and time and space constraints have been placed, but Fragrance Foundation executives hope to expand the number of attendees and professionals for next year. “If it’s successful this year, we hope in 2004 to blow this out to a full-scale event,” with companies manning their own booths and more intensive seminars, Ms. Molinar said.

Just Around the Corner
The teen market is far from saturated, according to industry executives. Marketers continue to seek out new ways to reach this category and unravel the mysteries of teen minds.

For example, “The so-called teen lines appeal (more so) to tweens, the 8-12-year old group,” pointed out Irma Zandl of ZandlGroup. “Teens are more savvy and more sophisticated than many marketers give them credit for.”

There are ways to get around this; for instance, plugging lower-priced items as suitable for adults or older girls. “Sixteen-year-olds want to think of themselves as 20-year-olds,” pointed out Rochelle Bloom, president of the Fragrance Foundation. “So in print ads and commercials, if you want to reach a young person, you need to use a model that she can look up to, and that usually means someone a little older.”

And a product or ad campaign doesn’t have to be geared solely toward “her.” Teen boys and young men are beginning to flood Avon’s salon, according to Ms. Griffin-Woodall. “Fathers and sons are coming in,” she said. “We have a men’s grooming expert on site. We’re seeing this more and more.”

The Fragrance Foundation helped unravel some of the mystery of this transitional time at “Scents and scentsibility: marketing to today’s teens,” the latest in the Foundation’s Consumer Insight series, Sept. 17 in New York City. “It is our role to give as much information and as many tools as we can to our members to help them make the best marketing decisions, and this is an impportant subject,” pointed out Rochelle Bloom, president.

With teens, you never know what’s just around the corner. Young consumers and their frazzled parents alike can be assured that whatever tomorrow’s trend may be, there will be a marketer to fill the niche.