STORE OPEN TO TEEN SCENE
Byline: Faye Brookman
NEW YORK — Hoping to catch a glimpse of Daisy Fuentes, a lengthy queue of teenage customers waited patiently at last week’s opening of one of three new Ulta3 stores in Las Vegas.
An appearance by Fuentes — an MTV personality and Revlon spokesmodel — is emblematic of the many ways Ulta3 has been attempting to reach teenage girls, an affluent and growing portion of the market.
“We don’t discriminate…we’re after every shopper. We carry many lines of products for teens and we have an environment conducive to experimenting,” said Bob VonderHaar, vice president of merchandising for Ulta3, based in Romeoville, Ill.
He added that Ulta3’s atmosphere doesn’t include beauty advisers who might dictate what teens should try. And the store makes teens feel at home, he said, rather than adopting a mass market attitude: being overly concerned with the possibility they are in stores to shoplift.
A vast array of product lines at Ulta3 has special appeal for teens, said VonderHaar.
“We feel we reach them with Ultima II, Studio Gear and Trucco on one end [of the price spectrum] and Bonne Bell, Jane, Prestige and M Professional on another,” he said.
During the store opening, other teen-oriented events included a male M Professional representative smeared with lipstick — a scenario intended to hammer home the beauty line’s motto that it is “not tested on animals…unless you count men.”
At least 20 percent of Ulta3’s opening-day customers were teens, VonderHaar estimates. “We especially had a great deal of mothers and daughters.”
Beyond offering products and celebrity visits for store openings, VonderHaar said he hopes to install new marketing programs, such as a special teenage frequent-shopper club.
Ulta3 is not alone in its emphasis on the teenage demographic. Chains such as Longs, Snyder Drug, Genovese and Wal-Mart are waking up to the potential of luring these customers while they are still young.
According to Teen-Age Economic Power/1995, the most recent Rand Youth Poll’s survey of teens, this group pumped $336.2 billion into the nation’s economy in 1995, up 12 percent from the previous year.
And, after two decades of decline, the teenage population is growing again, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. There are now about 40 million teen girls.
Many mass market retailers used to think teens were there to pilfer and loiter. Now attitudes are changing.
“Many of today’s styles started with teens,” said Don Pettit, president of Jane Cosmetics by Sassaby, based in Cardiff, Calif. “If it weren’t for teens, we wouldn’t be seeing blue nail polish on female executives.”
Furthermore, Pettit said, teens buy many more products than their adult counterparts. He said the theory is “supported by sales among our brands, which shows that everything from blush to eye shadow is getting purchased,” instead of customers cherry-picking just one item.
“Teens buy multiple products,” he concluded.
That’s underscored by research from Seventeen magazine, showing that 75 percent of teens wear mascara, eyeliner or eye shadow — during both the day and the night. Almost 90 percent of teens wear lipstick, according to Seventeen.
The figures compare favorably to manufacturer estimates that fewer than 60 percent of women over 24 wear eyeliner and shadow.
However, Pettit said, it takes more than a few edgy shades to show teens a store is in the business.
“You have to rethink everything,” he said, “even your signs, fixtures and point-of-purchase materials.”
Pettit added that this generation of teen customers are different from baby boomers and even Generation X (which he defined as people from ages 20 to 32).
“They are more interested in product, and they want to feel their needs are being addressed…they don’t want their mother’s brand,” he said.
The group as a whole is also technology-savvy and often gets information from the Internet.
Pettit encourages retailers to make a bigger push behind the core teen buying seasons — April and August. April is prom time and can result in a huge sales spurt, he said. August, of course, is back-to-school.
“We need to get in the habit of having back-to-school promotions. Stores have it for general merchandise products. We need to do it for beauty,” he suggested.
The desire to curry the favor of teens at back-to-school time was behind a promotion last fall at Snyder Drug in Minnetonka, Minn. The chain held a promotion called Color Crew in 54 stores in the Minneapolis area. Teens were trained in makeup application and worked in the stores performing makeovers and handing out samples.
The goal, according to Snyder, was to show that the store is a great place to shop for teenage needs.
Genovese recently formed a teen advisory panel, called the Trend Team, to help it formulate plans for its cosmetics department.
Longs Drug Stores is in the process of redesigning its cosmetics presentation to divide lines into three groups — youth/teens, mass and prestige. The teen lineup includes Jane and Bonne Bell.
Longs works with Bonne Bell as its “category adviser,” to make sure the store is stocking fashion-forward items teens crave, said a Longs spokesman.
Over the last year, Bonne Bell has expanded beyond its traditional products like Lip Smackers to capitalize on the burgeoning teen market. Last year’s Lip Lix — a combination of color and flavor — has been extended into new flavors: Berry Funny, Juicy News, Cin-a-Money, Espress-Yo-Self, Mocho Loco, Gimme S’More, Like-U-Latte and Whata-Melon For.
Based on solid sales of Lip Lix, Bonne Bell executives said they have introduced color and flavor in new lipsticks in both matte and shimmer formulas. Some of the flavors include Manic Melon, Mad About Mocha and Punk Lemonade.
Bonne Bell used to have teens to itself in the Seventies, but the potential of the market hasn’t been lost on other new players. M Professional, for example, continues to get distribution in both the nation’s mass outlets as well as another important shopping locale — apparel stores.
Fun Cosmetics is another teen-oriented line. According to Kristin Penta, vice president marketing and product development for Fun Cosmetics, her company is becoming the first full assortment teen line to add nail polish. The two collections, available now, feature spring fashion forward colors backed up with glitter shades for the summer that can also be applied over the first collection. “We’re getting excellent response to these colors,” said Penta.
Another new player is Sel-Leb, with its line based on the “Clueless” movie and television show. Like M Professional, Sel-Leb is also looking at other retail channels, such as music stores, to reach teens.
Using the conventional wisdom that teens want low prices served by budget lines, Sel-Leb’s Frank Kamis, executive vice president, said there is room for more options.
“We’ve done studies about what teens want, and color and fashion come first before price,” he said.
The “Clueless” products will retail for about $2.49 — higher than the typical 99-cent and $1.29 budget offerings.
“Chains have more than Revlon and Cover Girl,” noted Kamis, “so why not more than one teen line?”