Online Exclusives

The Wonder Years

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | April 6, 2011

Not quite adults and not quite kiddies either, 'tweens and teens have plenty of interest in and influence over what beauty and personal care products they use, purchase or ask mom to buy for them.

Like fish in schools or lions in a pride, American teen girls also migrate together—across the local mall, often congregating in spots like the food court and Hollister, but they can also be lured to Sephora, Ulta or anywhere there’s makeup on display.

The simple fact is that when most girls enter the teen scene, cosmetics become their BFFs. According to data from market research firm Mintel, more than 90% of teen girls use makeup, with lipstick and lipgloss the most frequently used by both age categories. More than three-quarters use nail polish too.

And while they may test the waters at Sephora or a department store counter where they can easily try out shades, teen girls tend to purchase most of their cosmetics at drug stores. CVS and Rite-Aid offer a range of choices that are easier on bank accounts funded by birthday gifts from relatives and babysitting.

And that’s good news for brands like Wet n Wild, a value priced cosmetics range manufactured by Markwins North America; Jane, the teen brand launched in 1994 by Sassaby, which is now part of Patriarch Partners via Estée Lauder; and every girl’s entry into makeup, Bonne Bell’s Lipsmacker lipgloss.
GeoGirl provides a healthy glow for girls.
But there’s growing competition today for these venerable brands. More firms are directly and (indirectly) targeting teens, and other beauty shoppers who seem to be growing younger and younger, and not because they are using a great anti-aging serum.

Targeting Generation Z—those born between the early 1990s and 2000—is GeoGirl. This large new collection of beauty products (69 SKUs) is rolling out at select Walmart stores nationwide. Created by Pacific World Corporation, the range includes makeup for face, lips, cheeks and eyes plus skin and body care. Products range from the $3.98-$5.98.

Acknowledging that makeup usage by young girls can be a touchy subject, the company says GeoGirl centers on a healthy, natural outer glow that is appropriate for their age, their complexion and their level of maturity. “It’s not about painting little girls to look like mini-adults. And, it’s not adult makeup that can be way too color-and-ingredient intense for young skin and features,” the brand states in a press release.

GeoGirl Colors are said to go on super-sheer, the packaging has been designed for smaller hands and smaller features, and the formulation boasts natural ingredients such as white willow bark (to exfoliate dead skin cells and control sebum), chamomile, lavender, calendula, ginseng and green tea.

Getting Personal

While makeup may be the most visible products teens and ‘tweens don, they need other personal care items that may not be as visible, but are certainly key to their social lives, like toothpaste and deodorant. These categories are also seeing an influx of products scaled to their customer’s smaller physical stature and their unique thought processes (think: I’m too big for that kiddie toothpaste my baby sister likes, but I’m not quite ready to swipe on a deodorant and spend all day smelling like mom or dad either).

Crest Pro-Health for Me
In oral care, P&G has rolled out Crest Pro-Health For Me, a line of tween-friendly products designed for children eight years old and up.

“Tweens have unique oral care needs, especially when it comes to flavors. We found that adult rinse and toothpaste flavors were often too spicy and products created for younger children were too sweet,” said Theresa Miller, brand manager, Procter & Gamble. “The flavors in the Crest and Oral-B Pro-Health For Me line are specially designed for ‘tweens in a not-too-spicy-not-too-sweet mint flavor.”

The Crest Pro-Health For Me Fluoride Anticavity Toothpaste comes in Minty Breeze flavor, plus there are accompanying floss picks, a rinse and Oral-B For Me toothbrushes, also sized for smaller mouths.

Brand executives hope the For Me lineup will help kids improve their oral care regimens, an area that moms and dads say needs attention. According to data cited by the Crest Pro Health For Me, one in four parents surveyed in America say his or her kids do a “fair” or “poor” job of taking care of their own mouth, teeth and gums. Among these parents, 70% state their kids avoid brushing and 80% state that their kids avoid flossing.

Crest has linked up with“Camp Rock 2” and “Step Up 3D” actress Alyson Stoner and her mom LuAnne, to help promote the line. The brand has also created“Yuck Mouth,” an iPhone and Android app and online game.

Tech-savvy programs are a necessary part of the marketing process in the tween/teen category, and so is the parent connection.

Research from Mintel finds that, generally speaking, almost half of kids (48%) still learn about new things they want to do or own from their parents. Yet as children grow older, they’ll begin to trust their peers more and that means marketers must make their products jive with the latest trends and be accepted by the “in” crowd.

While Dove works to connect to teens and tweens via parent/child events (, the Unilever brand also gets its message out to core consumers by backing youth-oriented groups. For example, Girl Scouts of the USA has been awarded a “generous grant” from Dove to deliver Girl Scout leadership and self-esteem programming to millions of girls nationwide and abroad with the release of the latest Girl Scout leadership journey It's Your Story—Tell It! Tell It! is collection of age appropriate publications developed for girls grades K-12, accompanied by corresponding adult guides.

"The Dove brand is proud to support the efforts of Girl Scouts of the USA on this creative and powerful programming, which will help girls to reach their full potential," said Rob Candelino, marketing director, for Dove U.S., which has been partnering with Girl Scouts since 2002. He said the purpose of leadership journey “is aligned with the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem, which invites all women to join us in creating a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety."

Go Team!

Even derm-based skin care brands recognize the potential in teens—and the need to reach them in their element. Clean Scene by Murad, a collection of teen/young adult skin care products developed by famed dermatologist Dr. Howard Murad, is once again working with Varsity for 2011 to support national cheer and dance competitions. This year, Clean Scene by Murad is extending its presence at cheer camps around the country.
Wet n Wild Goes to the Prom

Donating proceeds and backing events that teens care about is sound strategy for marketers. This time of year, there’s one key event that rises to the top: prom.

But for many teens who dream of a magical prom, the reality can be disenchanting—low funding can lead to drab decor, a poor music system and bland munchies that can ruin what should be a night to remember.Markwins’ Wet n Wild brand set out to help schools in need with Wet n Wild Cares, a nationwide charity program to support proms at 10 deserving high schools.

Schools were asked to send in a letter, video or some form of communication explaining why their school deserved a $1000 prom sponsorshi

The winning schools, each of which were also given $1,000 worth of makeup, include Hillside New Tech High School (Durham, NC), Leap Academy University Charter School (Camden, NJ), Kaiakin High School (Kenniwick, WA), Destiny Christian Academy (Wagoner, OK), Community Academy of Science and Health (Hyde Park, MA), Point Arena High School (Point Arena, CA), Van Alstyne High School (Van Alstyne, TX), Frederick Douglass Academy VI High School (Queens, NY), Clover Park High School (Lakewood, WA) and Randalstwon High School (Randallstown, MD).
At the National High School Cheerleading Championship held in Orlando this winter, Clean Scene ambassadors helped cheerleaders, coaches, and supportive friends and family create their own jar of Gaga for Glow,Clean Scene’s gentle exfoliating scrub. Each guest at the Clean Scene booth was allowed to mix in colorful jojoba beads in their school colors to polish away dead skin cells to leave their complexion soft and smooth.

Another line targeting pre-teen market is Glow Naturals, a Tampa, FL firm that has launched Sparkle Naturals, billed as a line of all-natural skin and hair care products.

According to founder Sandra Bergeson, her children “outgrew the natural products that had bunnies or smiling suns on the labels.” In addition, she said that many products geared towards this age group were harsh or filled with artificial fragrances.As an alternative, Bergeson formulated hair care, facial care, bath and body products that are free animal products, sulfates, parabens, synthetic fragrances and artificial colorants.

For the beauty beginner...
Good For You Girls is also targeting so-called “beauty beginners” with an all-natural and organic line of skin care products. Designed for girls 9 to 15, the line has recently been expanded with a trio of products for the body designed to complement its existing face products. The firm promoted the new SKUs—body wash, body shimmer lotion and deodorant—with a special appearance by Miss Teen United States-World, Belle Owen, at Expo West.

From Miss Teen to Lady Gaga, a celebrity connection has the potential to take a brand from obscurity to center stage, and teen/’tween brands recognize the value of a famous face holding—or better yet, tweeting about—their product.

Zippity Doo exhibited at the Pre-Golden Globes Hollywood Baby and Big Kid Room in an effort to showcase its lice-preventive line of children’s hair care products with A-list parents of Hollywood and the press.Likewise, Plackers—which sells Brush-N-Learn musical toothbrushes to help teach kids to brush for the recommended amount of time—hobnobbed with stars at the Kari Feinstein Oscar's Style Lounge at the Beverly Hills Montague Hotel, handing out products and the ever-important gift bag.

Also taking a page from the Hollywood playbook is Puppy Love Fragrances, LLC, which has tapped actress Caroline Sunshine of Disney’s “Shake It Up” to promote its debut scent, Puppy Love 4 girlz. Billed as a clean "real" first fragrance for tweens and teens, the scent created by Kristy Aaron, a fragrance industry veteran who has worked for Sanofi Beauté, YSL, Gucci and L'Oréal. The $35 fruity scent is sold online and is also available at Kids 4 Real, a clothing store in Irvine, CA, and Beauty World in Foothill Ranch, CA. The start-up is donating a portion of the proceeds to animal shelters.

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