SAN DIEGO — Although the teen market has been difficult for chain drug stores to tap, the channel certainly has items young shoppers want.

A panel of teenage trend spotters had little trouble finding products they thought were hot at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores meeting that was held here Sunday through Wednesday.

Teen People brought the Calif.-based teens to the massive trade show where they scoured the aisles for products they liked in 10 categories ranging from food to beauty. They also selected the hottest “buzzworthy” product on the floor. Among the categories were best packaging, hottest cosmetics, hottest hair product and hottest skin care.

Caboodles, a leading brand marketed to tweens and teens took honors for packaging. Color Smash Temporary Haircolor, housed in a paint can, won for best hair product against dozens of contenders. The cans of hair color are available in temporary and semipermanent formulas, according to the company.

The best skin care was awarded to Xcelance Body Fizz Gel, a company based in France. “It fizzes then cools your skin,” explained one of the panelists in praise of the gel. Lotta Luv Candy Corner Products, a line based on popular candy and baked goods won not only for the cosmetic category, but as the hottest buzzworthy line, as well.

The teens liked the tasty beauty treats because they emulate popular sweets in the form of lip glosses that don’t add calories. The firm’s Candy Corner and Bake Shoppe are featured in mall-based stores such as Limited Too and in chain drug stores including Walgreen’s.

Prior to highlighting their picks, the teens discussed what appeals to them and what doesn’t when it comes to shopping drug stores.

All six agreed that drug chains shouldn’t segregate teen items. “Don’t try too hard,” suggested one panelist. “Teens don’t want to be labeled teens,” said another. A handful of chains have tried “teen sections” that they have abandoned because teens don’t want items that claim to be marketed to them.

However, they did like the idea of a sticker or a table where items could be flagged by a teen publication as being popular with kids under 20. Clean, organized and well-illuminated stores were mentioned as important to this market segment. “It also helps to have a young sales staff who can help us,” pleaded one of the panelists. The teens also said they like sharp prices since they are often spending their own money. Adding music, they said, would also enhance the drug store experience.Voicing a vote for club cards, the six teens said they weren’t aware of drug chains doing much with frequent shopper cards, but they would like them. However, they said the cards should not be just marketed to teen customers.

Other beauty items selected by the teens included ColorStay lip, Crest Night Effects, Neutrogena Shimmer Sheers, John Frieda Sheer Blonde Hair Repair and Got2Be hair gel.

The teen category appears to be cooling off at drug chains, according to some retailers. However, retailers and marketers who quietly target teens are faring well. Neutrogena, for example, advertises in several teen publications, but doesn’t try to segment its items as only being for teens. Candy Corner also avoids marketing just the latest componentry. “Teens and older women like us because we give them the taste of candy without guilt,” said Steph Fogelson, president of Lotta Luv.

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