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Aiming for Teens

NEW YORK — Teens remain in the scope of retailers and beauty marketers as a target of choice, and consistently hitting the bull’s-eye has proven tricky. Despite the challenges, no one is willing to walk away from the game.<br><br>This...

NEW YORK — Teens remain in the scope of retailers and beauty marketers as a target of choice, and consistently hitting the bull’s-eye has proven tricky. Despite the challenges, no one is willing to walk away from the game.

This story first appeared in the April 4, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

This week, Rite Aid is getting into the teen act with its new teen Glam Camp program, an enticing endcap of health and beauty items for young women that comes with an interactive Web site, created by Alloy, and sweepstakes promotions.

At the same time, CVS is phasing out its two-year-old Grl Lab displays as it remodels stores into a new format called Beauty News. “As a result of Grl Lab we feel we have a better understanding of the teen customer,” commented a CVS spokesman.

Also this spring, Kmart is reducing space devoted to its tween-targeted Love Always, Magenta line by half — from six linear feet to three linear feet — making way for the introduction of Sally Hansen Healing Beauty.

Grammy winner Christina Aguilera couldn’t turn the Fetish cosmetics line into a hit — still, another manufacturer has signed a license with young celebrity Hilary Duff (see related story, opposite page), hoping to strike a chord with the same audience.

So it goes in the fickle world of youth beauty marketing.

Teens are said to possess a disposable income of $155 billion, so no one dares ignore the potentially lucrative market. Yet, how expandable is the teen beauty pie?

In mass market stores, teens account for 14 to 15 percent of total cosmetics sales, according to data provided by Procter & Gamble. Its 41-year-old Cover Girl brand, a favorite of teen girls for years, is one of the lines that has been able to maintain a highly developed teen business, noted Anne Martin, vice president, global cosmetics and marketing. At Cover Girl, teens account for 20 percent of the business, which makes Cover Girl the leading teen brand at mass, with a 50 percent share of the demographic.

To win the hearts of teens, Cover Girl keeps up a consistent message of offering a “clean, fresh, natural look,” or “Easy, Breezy, Beautiful,” as the jingle goes. New this year, Cover Girl is delivering its message to school girls through advertisements on Channel One and its is a partner on Rite Aid’s Glam Camp event. “We always look for value-added programs,” commented Martin, such as magazine and retailer tie-ins. Maybelline has also secured a steady teen following.

However, Don Pettit, a founder of the Jane Cosmetics brand and now a consultant, noted, “A bit of a feeding frenzy developed over teens. It is a very delicate market — it has so many undercurrents and streams.”

Now under the ownership of the Estée Lauder Cos., Jane Cosmetics has had its challenges in the last two years as the brand suffered through management changes and some packaging missteps. While Jane’s sales are down some 20 percent, CVS was pleased enough with the brand from its Grl Lab experiment to give it a permanent position in its planogram.

Other young mass brands have also been feeling pressure. Bonne Bell, after having skyrocketing sales for several years, suffered a slight decline last year, according to Information Resources Inc., excluding Wal-Mart. And Caboodles cosmetics, which had been a darling of retailers, suffered a 25 percent drop off in retail sales, excluding Wal-Mart, according to IRI. Separately, the Caboodles company markets She She and C Me in department stores.

Yet a teen beauty magazine introduced two years ago that is customized for retailers, the Teen Beauty Handbook, has seen its sales grow to nearly match its 28-year-old parent publication, Beauty Handbook, said Jack McAuliffe, president of Compendium Systems, which publishes the magazines. “Teen Beauty sells 1.2 million copies after two years compared to sales of 1.4 million for Beauty Handbook,” he said.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart has gone its own route and addressed young beauty shoppers by offering exclusive brands like Mary-Kate and Ashley and Coty’s Rimmel, which, according to sources, is Wal-Mart’s fourth best-selling cosmetics line.

And teen news keeps coming.

Avon will launch its second teen brand in five years. The first, ColorTrend, was discontinued within a year-and-a-half. The new and much more extensive line, Mark, will be unveiled in August. With Mark, Avon hopes to enlist a new and younger generation of representatives. Direct sellers Mary Kay and BeautiControl have also taken a similar route, with varied results.

Girl Mania from BeautiControl has been discontinued, but chairman Jinger Heath said the company is now luring more teens with an at-home spa program. Conducted by an adult representative, the girls are pampered with manicures, pedicures and other treatments while exposed to the BeautiControl product line.

Mary Kay’s Susan Freeman, manager for brand development for Velocity, said the company has been pleased with its two-year-old teen endeavor. “We started with a grassroots campaign. We started with the sales force and their daughters, and now their daughters are starting to tell their friends.” The mainstay of the Velocity lineup is the fragrance and skin care items. Color promotions are only available in the spring and fall, said Freeman. But in the interim she finds the girls are buying Mary Kay’s signature items.

Yet, some declare that a true teen market doesn’t exist.

“There really is no teen market. What companies are making and marketing to teens is really being purchased by tweens. Teens don’t want it,” said Myra Solomon, a principal of Just Having Fun Cosmetics, which markets Petunia. She added: “What catches young customers today is not the products, but clever packaging. It gets harder and harder to have clever packaging and so many suppliers have the same things.”

Pettit said manufacturers need to develop consistent, high-quality products to keep a loyal teen customer base.

“Many of the lines have become gobs of glitter. While that is part of a teen line, it has become what the lines are all about,” said Pettit. “I am not sure anybody [who has introduced a new line] is really focusing on products that teens could learn to use and adopt for real makeup.”