By  on November 13, 2009

NEW YORK — The beauty industry thrives on meeting every kind of skin care need. And that’s exactly what Snezna Kerekovic did after she couldn’t find skin care products for her daughter that didn’t contain harsh drying agents.

“Being a little beauty obsessed, I started to look at what was on offer in stores and could only find all these products based on harsh chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulphate and benzoyl peroxide. I couldn’t find anything that was pure and natural and that also ‘got’ that young consumer,” recalled Kerekovic, who then created her own line called Bellaboo.

Bellaboo is a collection of skin care products that are not tested on animals, have minimal and recyclable packaging and are marketed to teens.

The Australian-based company is receiving attention from American retailers willing to see if this brand can finally unlock the potential of the teen U.S. skin care market.

Two thousand Rite Aid stores are offering a counter display of the skin care range on boutique tables. Justice, the teen retailer owned by The Limited, will commence a test with Bellaboo, and supermarket chain Giant Eagle is stocking the line. “Our aim is to be available where tweens and teens shop,” said Kerekovic.

The line up includes Bellaboo All That Clean Skin Facial Wash; Buff Skin Facial Exfoliator; Gorgeous Skin Moisture Dew; E Z Blitz Blemish Serum; Sweet Sin Chocolate Face Mask; Berry Nice Face Fix Mask; Clear Skin Smoothie Mask + 2 Gift Packs — a full-size Starter Kit — and trial-size Girl on the Go Kit with mini versions of the 3 Step System in a bath bag. Prices range from $9.99 to $14.99.

Cracking the teenage skin care market has been a challenge for mass merchants. Acne product sales are down 1 percent to $498 million from $498.6 million for the 52-week period ended Oct. 3, according to Nielsen data for food, drug and mass including Wal-Mart. Overall skin care sales are also down 1.9 percent to $4.78 billion for the same period.

Kerekovic hopes her positioning and unique ways of reaching her younger target audience could be the magic bullet to ignite the market. A younger skin care clientele, she reasoned, can also build more sales down the road.

“I decided the best way to get into the headspace of tweens and teens was to make them part of my marketing team. Through a media partner, we put out a call for young girls who wanted to be chosen to help create a beauty brand for their peers,” she said. The firm was inundated with entries, and ultimately six girls, ages 13 to 17, were selected with various backgrounds and personalities. They are known as the Bellaboo Crew and are featured in all branding. “We use them, not models, in our advertising and our shoots,” she added. They are part of a Get Real Campaign that borrows a page from Dove’s Real Beauty effort and helps girls believe in themselves and accept who they are.

Kerekovic said she’s tried to create a complete experience. There is a magazine at Bellaboobabe.com that is about girl power. But the Web site doesn’t just direct teens to its products; there are also suggestions on cosmetics and fashion. A summer promotion is planned for the U.S. behind the three-step natural skin care system.

At a time when major retailers are weeding out duplicate stock keeping units to make space more productive, Kerekovic hopes she is bringing something unique to the business that could help one chain stand out against the competition. “If we hit a nerve with the American mom and teen consumer, then we will be considered to roll out to all stores,” she said of her various tests with major merchants.

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