TEEN BATH ITEMS BUBBLE UP
Byline: Julie Naughton / with contributions from Laura Klepacki
NEW YORK — Cosmetics firms have designed packaging, added flavor and glitter and launched Web sites, all in an effort to seek favor with the venerable youth market.
And now, it’s bath time.
Bath’s strong growth over the past several years, driven first by Bath & Body Works and quickly picked up on by major retailers and manufacturers, has led to more segmented marketing within the category. Add that to the fact that teens — with their abundant disposable income and definite opinions — are among the most influential consumers these days, and it’s natural that a trend would arise.
Canadian firm Delhar was one of the first to take a crack at teens with the launch last year of Body@Best, a collection of foaming gels, swirled lotions and fruit-scented hair items, all in bright, bold packaging. And last year, Bonne Bell expanded its Bottled Emotion fragrance line to include bath and body stockkeeping units.
But today, it seems that was only the beginning of the bath products to come designed with teens and even tweens in mind.
This month, Target introduced Brambly Hedge, a proprietary fragrance and bath line based on the English children’s books. It includes a five-stockkeeping-unit collection for girls called Buttercup. In July, Mattel will get into the act with a new 40-sku line of licensed Barbie cosmetics and bath products manufactured by the Cosrich Group, geared to girls eight and up. Then this fall, Plano Molding Co. is extending its Caboodles boxes and cosmetics businesses with a bath and body set for teens that was created from the input of focus groups.
And Burlington Toiletries, a leading Canadian private label manufacturer that released a teen-specific bath line called Milk Bar this spring, has at least two more teen offerings on tap for later this year.
These new entries could change the landscape of bath and body departments at drugstores, mass merchants and food stores.
“At this time last year, few people addressed the teen bath market,” said Mark Pinvidic, vice president of marketing for Delhar’s Body@Best brand, which targets 12-to-19-year-olds. “We chose to enter this category because we saw a lot of opportunity and also because we saw this channel of distribution losing a great deal of money to specialty retailers like Bath & Body Works.”
However, selling to the under-20 set — and those that retail to them — isn’t simply a matter of clever packaging.
According to Pinvidic, teen bath products differ from their adult counterparts in several key ways. “Teenagers prefer fruitier, stronger fragrances to the muted scents and mixtures that are more popular among older consumers,” said Pinvidic, whose Body@Best line began shipping last September. “They want lots of choices, so that they can use different products depending on their moods. And there’s a huge emphasis on the word fun.”
And paying attention to teens’ wishes is absolutely critical, because Mom and Dad are not the ones making the purchase decision, stressed Leonie Mateer, a special consultant to Plano Molding Co. Caboodles polled about 300 teenage girls on their shopping habits and product preferences, and found that when it comes to purchasing decisions, 94 percent of teens said they made the product selections.
Another challenge is making sure offerings also appeal to retailers. “Getting into permanent planogram space these days is hard enough,” said Carol Walker, vice president of marketing for Burlington. “It’s critical to create something that consumers and retailers alike find to be different and unique — you can’t just create a ‘me-too’ line and expect it to be successful.”
Burlington’s point of difference for teenagers has been mimicking food items for its bath lines. The first food-inspired line, Milk Bar, was launched in February, and includes yummy-sounding items like Body Wash Milk Shake, Body Creme Sundae and Lip Gloss Parfait. All are available in strawberry, banana and chocolate flavors and retail for $2.99 each.
Cafe Society, Burlington’s newest open-stock, mass market bath and body collection, will roll out in July. “Coffee shops have become to North America what pubs are to England,” said Walker. “This line plays off of that trend.”
Cafe Society includes seven items in four flavors, Double Espresso, Strawberry Cheesecake, Ice Tea and Blueberry Muffin. The products are Bath Shake, a bilevel bath foam that is shaken together before it is added to bath water; Body Wash, a cleanser; Body Cream, a moisturizer; Bath Fizzer Shaker, a bath fizz; Cappuccino Cup Candle, a candle in a metal coffee cup with a matching metal saucer; PVC Takeout Bag, a takeout-type container filled with several products, and Kilner Jar, a clear plastic jar filled with the items.
Two additional sku’s are available: a Bath Sugar Set that contains all four flavors and a metallic rack designed like a spice holder that also contains all four flavors. The products average $4.99 each, and sets retail from $7.99 to $12.99.
Appealing to teens’ practical sides is important, said Walker, so each Cafe Society sku features a reusable packaging component. For instance, the Bath Fizzer Shaker includes a stainless-steel shaker resembling a parmesan-cheese shaker that can be reused after the product is consumed. “There’s certainly a lot of saturation in the bath category, but we feel that lines like Cafe Society and Milk Bar give us a twist,” said Walker.
An early Burlington teen and tween effort, Fruit Appeal, is a price-driven line of misting lotions and glitter body sprays with fruit fragrances. “It appeals to our youngest consumers — tweens and younger teens,” said Walker. It was introduced nearly two years ago, and retail prices average $2.99.
And Burlington, which built its business manufacturing private label bath products for Target and several other mass retailers, is continuing to work on new private label projects. Recent efforts include products for Toys “R” Us’s new children’s cosmetics line, True Girlz, and a revamped bath and cosmetics line for tweens at Target called My Generation is set to relaunch in July.
Burlington’s next open-stock effort is U Color, which includes teen-oriented bath and cosmetics gift sets in bright colors. The color cosmetics sets are now available exclusively at Kohl’s, and the bath sets will launch in a variety of mass retail outlets in August.
Also dabbling with food concepts is Dial’s Nature’s Accents brand, which launched the Bath Treats Collection in March. Designed to appeal to 12-to-17-year-olds, the line — available in Apple Parfait, Fruit Sundae and Mango Berry Royale flavors — includes Jelly Soap Swirls, a $2.99 glycerine soap, and Shower Mousse & Shave Gel, a $5.99 body cleanser and shaving gel. The products are available in a number of food, drug and mass retailers, including Wal-Mart, Kmart and Duane Reade.
Orchard International, another Canadian private label bath manufacturer that is now offering its own open-stock bath items, began shipping its Teen Line to retail shelves last September. Available in five variations — Board Trip, Power Bloom, Grass Roots, Vibe and Bubble Gum Blast — the collection includes such items as Bath Rocks, bath and shower gel, body glitter glitz and glycerine soap.
Like many of Orchard International’s other open-stock items, most of the products are packaged as gift sets. They include the Snow Goggles Set, which offers a pair of snow goggles, an 8-oz. Board Trip Bath and Shower Gel and an 8-oz. Board Trip Body Glitter Glitz and retails for $12.99, and Thimble Bag, which includes a printed PVC bag, an 8-oz. Power Bloom Bath and Shower Gel, an 8-oz. Power Bloom Body Glitter Glitz and a 4.2-oz. Power Bloom Glycerine Soap and retails for $11.99. Bath Rocks, Bath and Shower Gel, Body Glitter Glitz and Glycerine Soap are all available for individual purchase.
The proliferation of gift sets doesn’t surprise Body@Best’s Pinvidic, who maintains that teens — especially those 14 to 19 years old — are large consumers of sets. “Our research and sales figures show that teenagers are buying gift sets all year round,” he said. “They’re not just buying them for Christmas. They’re buying them as birthday gifts and for themselves. As an industry, we need to offer more gift options, and we need to make them available throughout the year.”
And that will become even more critical as the teen bath category continues to grow, Pinvidic said. “Retailers are already starting to devote bath sections to younger consumers,” he said. “And more retailers are likely to start doing private label bath brands. There aren’t a lot yet, but you’ll see a lot more attempts this year, and that will continue to change the environment.”
Mateer said Caboodles was already presenting retailers with 2-foot, 3-foot and 4-foot display units and hopes eventually to create a bath and body destination at mass.
For some suppliers, the youth movement has already proven to be a game-changer. “More than 80 percent of our business is now done with teenagers and tweens,” said Burlington’s Walker. “We’ll continue to strongly address this important segment in the months to come.”