TEEN BEAUTY MATURES
Byline: Faye Brookman / Laura Klepacki
NEW YORK — Teen cosmetics manufacturers want to get down to business.
In the past three years, the market has been flooded with promotional brands ready to ride the wave of the youth cosmetics craze.
But now that the initial explosion has subsided, the brands remaining are thinking more seriously about their future. After enjoying initial success, many now are mapping out plans to become a permanent part of retailer planograms.
Caboodles, which launched a line last year, was one of the few new teen collections to bypass the promotional phase and go straight to retailers with a display of its own. But for others, such as Townley, Traffic Jam, X-Tatic and Added Extras, in and out collections were the best means to break onto the scene. Meanwhile, AM Cosmetics Wet ‘n’ Wild budget brand has been tweaked to appeal to a teen audience.
Michael Kaplan, president of Added Extras, has just renamed its two-year-old Body Candies brand Body Charms and has created a new freestanding fixture to house it. The company also plans to introduce a cartoon spokesmodel, “Jasmine,” in June to help create a brand identity. Kaplan has already received some orders for the fixture.
“There is a bigger awareness of teen cosmetics now,” commented Isaac Gindi, president of the two-year-old X-Tatic brand. It too has recently unveiled an in-store fixture with a television theme and playful slogan — Stay Tuned to Your Colors. “I think a lot of people are trying to build an identity and create a competitive edge.”
Meanwhile, Jane Cosmetics, which essentially laid the groundwork for the flood of teen brands to follow, has updated its fixture with new colors and graphics.
Agnes Landau, vice president of marketing at Jane, expects the brand to continue to be a leading player. “The fact that we came in first to the marketplace and established ourselves with a unique voice and touched an emotional connection with [the customer], helps us maintain leadership status and create a bond,” she said.
For the brands that want to break into the market now, Landau said, “You have a lot of people in it. You have to establish yourself with a different spin, and finding that niche from a pricing and positioning standpoint will be hard.”
Hilary Bell, director of brand development at Bonne Bell, a perennial favorite among teens, said it’s hard to know how large the market can become.
“I can’t really predict if these guys will succeed or not. The retailers will tell us and the consumers will tell us,” said Bell. “What I do know is the technology out there doesn’t let anything hide. Either you perform or you don’t.”
But she noted it is important not to become stagnant. “It is a business where you must constantly reevaluate who you are. That is something, in our 72-year history, we have had to do so many times,” she added.
Meanwhile, retailers continue to assess the best means to address teens in their stores. Wal-Mart, Eckerd, Target, Walgreens and Wegmans are among the chains adding special areas with youthful products.
Wal-Mart is experimenting with a Trend Zone department. Special signs alert shoppers to the area, which features Jane, Revlon’s Streetwear, CG Smoothers and Bonne Bell. Nearby are also trendy products such as Bari Cosmetics and Del Laboratories’ New York Color NYC.
Both Target and ShopKo are installing Caboodles Boutiques, according Leonie Mateer, a consultant to Plano Molding, Caboodles’ parent. “We’re trying to get retailers to present the boxes, the bags and the cosmetics together. It gives teens their own environment,” said Mateer.
Without the room to present an entire teen area, Wegmans takes a segment of a shelf to create a teen area. The section changes frequently, and it sports items such as Markwins flower-shaped nail colors or Parfums de Coeur’s Body Fantasies.
Many retailers experiment with youthful products in promotional areas, but many manufacturers are coveting wall space. “We’ve proven ourselves in promotions. Now we want permanent space,” said Abie Safdieh, president of Townley. Townley’s wall has products in packages with holographic images to attract young customers. Safdieh said several chains have expressed interest in installing the wall. Some are using space that once housed other youth lines such as Fetish. Townley is also getting permanent space for its Hello Kitty license.
Prior to her departure from Fun Cosmetics, Kristin Penta had also secured permanent display wall space in Walgreens. A company spokesman said it is not clear what will happen, but noted that Walgreens is adding more brands that appeal to young shoppers.
The bath category is bubbling over with new brands for savvy teen shoppers. Caboodles is rolling out a bath line. Retailers credit teens with helping fuel sales of Calgon, Sarah Michaels, Body @ Best and other bath lines. Duane Reade is among the chains putting in Delhar’s Body @ Best. “You really notice it on the shelves, and we think it has a young appeal,” said Karen Durham, divisional merchandise manager for the chain.
Now things are heating up in an even younger area of bath — pre-teens. Cosrich, Inc. has gained the rights to Barbie. The line will cast off any notions shoppers had of Barbie as being “too young.” A funky flexible pouch will hold bath items. “The whole look is more contemporary to go with a new focus Mattel is putting on the brand,” explained Debbie Baker, vice president of marketing at Cosrich. Several retailers said they see Barbie as a bridge between Tweety or Hello Kitty and older brands.
At Eckerd Drug, a new line called Comfy was created for mother and child to bathe together. The idea is to foster the bond between them during bath time. A cute Lady Bug is the icon of the line, which is selling well, according to Kathy Steirly, vice president of beauty at the chain.
There’s an ample population to entice marketers who want young customers. Census data reveals there are 34.3 million consumers under age 13. Research from Texas A&M reveals that seven in 10 receive an allowance and kids ages four to 12 spend almost $24 billion of their own money and influence another $187 billion. Although it is not known exactly how much of that is spent on beauty products, industry analyst Allan Mottus estimates that at least 25 percent of the total for girls is plunked down on lip gloss, body and hair glitter and nail polish.
It isn’t just bath and grooming where there are items for tots. Kiss Products, Inc. of New York has Mickey and Winnie-the-Pooh nail polish, Fing’rs, based in Camarillo, Calif., just introduced a new line called Little Fing’rs that are mini artificial nails and nail polishes for kids four to 12, and Almar Sales of New York packages has children’s hair accessories packaged in the ultimate product to emulate mom — a cell phone.