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Recent years has seen beauty brands turn their focus more intently on the teen consumer market as they launch lines that appeal to the self-expressive, experimental and wellness orientated demands of the younger consumer. While some brands are going down the tech route, offering AI technology for selfie testing, others are stripping back their products to organic roots by providing transparency of production and honest formulas.
Brands are realizing that teens don’t care for hyped ideas of beauty but are seeking out messages of empowerment and transformation. They are learning not to underestimate the intelligence of teen consumers, therefore branding campaigns are being shaped to appeal to smart and thrifty teen targets.
ASOS have been spreading messages of empowerment across their full-range collection, which was angled at all genders and identities, to allow their customers to embrace their own identity, express their individuality and feel comfortable doing so in the process. The collection was designed to empower the customer; a trend that is becoming increasingly more prevalent as brands recognize the desire for younger consumers to embrace gender fluidity, androgyny and whatever comes naturally. A recent study by the Innovation Group showed that only 39% of American’s under 18 stated that they only ever bought fragrances designed for their gender while the number for accessories is 37%. Many teenagers are now refusing to assign themselves a gender at all.
Another company recognising the trend is Ainsel; a newly launched London-based lipstick brand, keen to tap into teens’ expression of self-love and ethical values; encouraging customers to create their own unique shades in the brand’s London lab. Their vibrant lipstick shades are sold along with their kitsch logo pins with all proceeds from the pins going toward the Shine Project – a UK based charity which helps to support teenage girls.
Other brands are tapping into the desire for self-expression using methods that are simple yet just as effective. Glossier encourages buyers to customise their products’ packaging using stickers that are sent with each order and Sara Hill advocates make-up as paint for play; embracing alternative and avant-garde fashion aesthetics in branding. Personalisation and customisation are now the keywords for brand success due to the teen desire for experimentation and brand interaction as part of their customer journey.
Alongside personal care and beauty products now being directly marketed at teenagers, fitness and wellbeing are also being encouraged. Fitness guru Tracy Anderson from Total Teen has created empowering guides such as the “Guide to Health, Happiness and Ruling Your World” composed of cardio and strength workouts that are safe for teens alongside nutritionally balanced healthy recipes to help instill a message of healthy, active living and positive self-image; a welcome reversal from the traditional print-media body-shaming of women in the same publications where they promote beauty products. Instead the publications include motivational stories about other exemplary women. Teen Vogue has been quick to acknowledge the trend with a dedicated wellness section on its website offering a holistic array of advice on mental and sexual health, nutrition, fitness, relationships and spirituality.
Whilst physical stores such as Ainsel’s Lip Lab offer the conceptual experimentation factor, most young consumers still choose to make their final purchases online. Many small, niche brands are currently popping up and thriving in the online market; names such as Lime Crime; a cruelty-free, affordable, vegan colour cosmetics brand who sells products with inventive titles such as ‘Unicorn hair dye’. Another brand that’s carved a niche is ColourPop. They create eyeshadows in millennially appealing shades such as ‘DGAF’. Both Lime Crime and ColourPop sell direct to the customer only and have amassed an ardent following of tweens and teens online through their social media channels. This mirrors the humble beginning of NYX Cosmetics before the brand acquired their own stores after their acquisition by L’Oréal in 2014. Prior to the acquisition, NYX Cosmetics had amassed a cult following by actively reaching out and engaging with their customers who appreciated their colour-saturated products.
Marketing data shows that tweens and teens aren’t necessarily drawn to largescale, hyped campaigns blown across traditional media channels. Instead, they are much more likely to be drawn to brands that meet them in online spaces through social media. Brand giants have been slow to respond to the drastic shift in expectation when it comes to brand engagement, which is allowing niche, online-only brands to take advantage of the potential in the market.
A significant point for brands to note is the younger generation’s willingness to talk about mental health and wellness in a way that we’ve never seen before. Just as there are beauty bloggers there are also mental-health bloggers and holistic health has become an ever-trending issue. Therefore it would be wise for brands to become as fluent as possible in all areas of wellness and beauty to truly capture the attention of the younger market.