Especially when it comes to beauty, teenage girls, ages 13 to 19, are a consumer segment mass retailers, including supermarkets, are beginning to covet.
This group's spending power, $48 billion annually, is so awesome that Wal-Mart Stores set up a section called Trend Zone to attract teens. Food chains such as Wegmans Food Markets, Rochester, N.Y., also are now stocking funky nail polish in flower shapes as well as other cosmetics and bath products for the youth market. Boise, Idaho-based Albertson's and Cincinnati-based Kroger divisions are reportedly testing new brands for teens as well.
Research from Seventeen magazine reveals young women spend $312 a month -- with half of that on clothing, jewelry and beauty.
The biggest challenge, said retailers, is to lure teenagers away from shopping mall stores. Teenage Research Unlimited, Northbrook, Ill., finds that "shopping at a mall" is something almost 75% of teen girls report doing weekly.
Department stores aren't blind to that fact and are -- after years of bypassing teens -- adding more lines for a young audience like Urban Decay and Hard Candy. These brands were recently acquired by the French luxury goods company LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
Another formidable foe is direct mail with catalogs such as Delia's capturing a healthy portion of teen spending. Add to that, the growing importance of the Internet with several Web sites -- Alloy Online, Turf -- offering special products for teens and the business is more competitive than ever.
Making teens a tough nut to crack is the overall perception that mass market doors -- especially supermarkets -- aren't fashionable. Research from the Zandl Group, a New York-based marketing consulting firm that has tracked youth market trends since 1986, finds that mass names are losing luster with the audience report.
Just because mass doors aren't always thought of as bastions of fashion, however, doesn't mean they can't enjoy the surge in teen spending, manufacturers said. And, with the frequency of shopping trips to a food store, supermarkets can gain more sales by offering teen-friendly merchandise.
"Retailers need to make it as much fun to go to the supermarket as it is the mall," suggested Myra Solomon, vice president of Petunia, based in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her solution is to offer promotional merchandise that brings mass marketers the opportunity to present fresh looks.
An item that drove teens into stores this past year was Glamour Rox -- rings with an attached scented lip gloss. "We've sold more than 3 million of the rings," said Michael Tedesco, president of Fifth Avenue Channel, Pelham, N.Y., the distributor.
Arnie Zimmerman, president and chief operating officer of AM Cosmetics, North Arlington, N.J., said there's tremendous potential in several of AM's brands in Reaching teens -- especially on a promotional basis. "We've gotten good response to La La Locker," he said of the mini products.
Another company gaining supermarket distribution is Townley, Paterson, N.J. With items such as Funky Friends and scented body glitter. Townley has become a brand to watch, noted some industry executives. Based on its success in promotional items, the firm is now looking for permanent wall space, according to company president Abie Safdieh. Townley has a new wall fixture that can be adapted to supermarkets. "We offer it carded just for food stores," said Safdieh. The company also has the license for Hello Kitty makeup, which is being added to supermarket chains. Kroger has taken on the item.
Other new beauty makeup lines targeted at teens and the "tween" market are Looney Tunes makeup from Minnetonka Brands, Eden Prairie, Minn., Traffic Jam, Betty Boop from Worldwide Cosmetics, North Hollywood, Calif., and Barbie makeup from Cosrich Group, Bloomfield, N.J. These join existing brands that already have a teen following such as Bonne Bell, Lakewood, Ohio, and Jane cosmetics, a division of New York-based Estee Lauder Cos.
Although not technically a teen line, William McMenemy at Del Laboratories, Uniondale, N.Y., thinks NYC New York Color, the firm's budget offering, is a hit with young shoppers. "It has the right positioning with New York and the colors are right," he said of the budget brand.
Even traditional lines are thinking younger. Maybelline has added young spokeswomen such as actress Sarah Michelle Gellar to draw teens to the line.
Manufacturers of young lines said products need to be interactive. Fing'rs, Camarillo, Calif., for example, a manufacturer of nail items, has a new Lava Lips and Glitter Tips promotion, which features a lip gloss that looks like a Lava Lamp.
Another manufacturer, Sel-Leb Marketing, Paterson, N.J., has Lip Candy, a lip gloss with gummy candy.
To keep its department fresh, Caboodles Cosmetics, based in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada, features a removable backing to its display that allows for retailers to change the color periodically.
While new players duke it out in color cosmetics, there's also competition brewing in bath. Bath has emerged as a popular category with young shoppers. Caboodles is jumping into the tub with a bath and body line that's already caught the eye of Benita Corbin, buyer for Marsh Supermarket, Indianapolis. "The packaging is different and fun," she explained.
Barbie is also hoping girls want to lather up with her. Mattel has licensed Cosrich to produce Barbie products that will help take the venerable brand to a slightly older audience. "The products are for girls between Tinkerbell and Jane. We've made Barbie more contemporary," said Debbie Baker, vice president of marketing for Cosrich. To do so, the bath items are in a funky, flexible pouch with a charm bracelet attached.
Burlington Toiletries International, Lachine, Quebec, Canada has a new teen collection called Milk Bar consisting of a body wash, body cream and lip gloss. Even Toys 'R' Us has added a line called True Girlz -- - a ploy to get shoppers at a very early age.
After years of catering to older women, skin care is now getting more youth conscious, too. "We see opportunity for treating younger skin," said Carol Hamilton, general manager of L'Oreal Retail, New York. L'Oreal's solution is Hydra Fresh, a three-step system for teens. Jane has also ventured into skin with a line for teens called Good Skin. The only downside for supermarkets looking to tap the spending power of teens is finding the space. Concludes Corbin at Marsh, "We're always faced with what lines should we take and where we would put them. In limited space we can't take all the teen lines."