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Critical Mass: A Youth Line With a Safety Focus

JAMESBURG, N.J. — There’s no lack of beauty products aimed at the younger set.<br><br>The only problem is, many are not formulated with kids’ safety in mind, according to Linda R. Rothstein-Sosnick, a beauty industry consultant who...

JAMESBURG, N.J. — There’s no lack of beauty products aimed at the younger set.

The only problem is, many are not formulated with kids’ safety in mind, according to Linda R. Rothstein-Sosnick, a beauty industry consultant who teamed up with her husband, Jeffrey Sosnick, to form a new company called B A Kid Inc., based here.

“Many of the products out there for kids are poor quality,” said Rothstein-Sosnick, who has worked at several firms involved in the cosmetics business. Too often, she said, components are cheap and ingredients are not always suitable for young users who are not careful where they apply the potions. What was designed for lips or cheeks sometimes gets dabbled on eyes, causing harm.

That prompted Rothstein-Sosnick to conceive a new line of items aimed at the preteen market. However, rather than adapting a look that screamed youth, Rothstein-Sosnick opted for straightforward packaging that has more of an apothecary feel.

Some industry experts think it could be a $2 million brand. They said the line could especially appeal to toy stores, drugstores and supermarkets. Many of those outlets have been left without a very young brand since the demise of Tinkerbell. Tinkerbell once had a healthy $150 million to $200 million business in children’s cosmetics via drug, toy and discount stores. New Dana closed Tinkerbell in the acquisition of Renaissance.

However, B A Kid will compete against the power of the Bonne Bell name, as well as the growing acceptance of Caboodles and whimsical beauty kits such as Markwins’ ACT collection.

“Although it is aimed at preteens, we think the line appeals to consumers four to 104,” she said. “Too many of the lines out there today are marketed at kids, but the kids think they look too young and they are trading up to what is promoted to teens. And teens want what adults wear.”

One of the most interesting twists is the labeling. The back panel of the products features information typically found on drug or food labeling. For example, the active ingredients are listed, as well as uses for the item. There are warnings stating the products are for external use only. The packaging also advertises that the products perform a dual purpose as a health and beauty aid. The lip balms, for example, have notices explaining that they tint lips while also moisturizing.

This story first appeared in the December 13, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Beeswax is a major ingredient in the lip products. And, to reinforce the concept of natural ingredients such as beeswax, B A Kid features a bumblebee as an icon for the line. Product names tie into bees such as Bzzzy Body Lip Nectar or Bzzzy Body Sweet Heartzzz, a heart-shaped lip gloss. “These products are designed to let kids’ natural beauty shine through,” Rothstein-Sosnick said.

While maintaining a healthy positioning, B A Kid isn’t overlooking the fun aspect of beauty packaging. There are whimsical heart-shaped glosses with glitter flower centers, lip glosses attached to zipper pulls and Lip Honey with duo colors that looks like a lava lamp.

Beyond the positioning, B A Kid is striving for value over the competition. Most packages feature two items rather than one. The Bzzzy Body Lip Nectar, for instance, comes in cherry- and passion fruit-flavored lip balms packaged on a peg card. Suggested retails are $3.99 to $4.25.

To take advantage of a value positioning, B A Kid has produced assortments suitable for wholesale clubs. One is the Bzzzy Body Lip Sweetzz to Go, which has various fruit-flavored glosses in a plastic case that is then put in a clamshell for presentation on a pallet at a club. Clubs such as BJ’s Wholesale and Costco have both moved more aggressively into beauty. The clamshell of two packages of the glosses (one in a pearl finish, one in a glitter) retails for about $14.99 to $15.99. The duo hopes the pack will be a great gift idea for a grandparent with multiple grandchildren.

The Sosnicks eye space on permanent planograms, but are introducing the line with clip strips and power wings. “They could easily be clip stripped, especially in a supermarket aisle,” Rothstein-Sosnick said. “It has an impulse appeal, but people can buy it and know they are giving their kids something safe.”