Youth and Teen Products: Targeting Teens
Packaging is instrumental in capturing the attention of the youth and teen market.by Marie Redding, Senior Editor
Today, teens and tweens have instant access to information on trends and pop culture. “They know exactly what is cool and what isn’t, and they all want the trendiest products,” says Bill Goodwin, founder of Goodwin, a consultancy firm specializing in the strategy and design of youth brands.
Many companies compete for the attention of this age group. “In order to succeed, you must take extra steps to differentiate your brand,” says Goodwin. “You can’t con teenagers today. They want authentic brands that really stand for something.”
In the past, teens and tweens have been called fickle because their preferences seem to change on a regular basis. James Ward, chief marketing officer of The Bonne Bell Co., disagrees: “Fickle is not the right word. Teens and tweens are more experimental and try lots of different products until they figure out what they like. Then they become very loyal to that brand.” We researched some of the different ways in which companies are designing packaging to reach young customers.
Visually Convey Benefits
The Bonne Bell and Smackers brands have managed to build an extremely loyal following through generations. The first Lip Smackers were created in 1974. The brand’s target age group is 6 through 12, while the Bonne Bell brand’s average core customer is 15. “Moms are happy to purchase a Smackers lip gloss as their daughter’s first. They probably remember their favorite Smackers flavor when they were young,” says Ward.
Bonne Bell recently launched its VitaGloss2O moisture stick. The balm is packaged in a double-walled acrylic package. The outer wall is translucent so the balm’s color remains visible.
One standard rule for the packaging team at Bonne Bell is to design packaging to convey a product’s benefits. “We mainly use translucent packages that allow the product to be seen. The benefit of VitaGloss2O is smooth, shiny lips, [so this image] is reinforced by the acrylic package’s smooth shiny finish,” says Ward. Components such as wand applicators are designed by Bonne Bell’s team to be just the right size for a young girl’s fingers.
The Celebrity Connection
Partnering with a celebrity is one way for a brand to get noticed. Usually, secondary packaging is used to prominently display a celebrity’s photo.
Raven Symone, star of the Disney television series, That’s So Raven, worked with the teams at Disney, Townley Cosmetics, and Boom Creative to develop the That’s So Raven fragrance and cosmetics line, which launched in September. “Raven is a mom-approved personality with staying power. Kids aspire to be like her,” says Abe Safdieh, president, Townley Cosmetics. The Raven line includes unique items such as an eye and lip palette in a cell-phone-shaped compact. All of the cosmetics are manufactured by Townley Cosmetics.
The Raven brand was created with older teens in mind, although its core customer is younger. “Developing products for tweens means designing packages that will appeal to a 17-year-old, because that is the age they aspire to be,” says Sheila Ullery, health and beauty director for Disney Consumer Products. “They don’t want to feel like they are using a kiddie brand.” Symone, who is 19, plays a 17-year-old on her show.
When contributing to the line’s development, Symone showed the teams at Disney and Townley Cosmetics the contents of her makeup bag. “She spoke to us about all the types of products she loves to use,” says Ullery. That’s So Raven graphics are prominently displayed on all of the secondary packaging in order to appeal to the show’s fans.
Raven also has a fragrance named That’s So Raven. It is packaged in a stock glass bottle supplied by Saint-Gobain Desjonquères, and decorated by US Screening. Boom Creative Development designed the fragrance packaging. “We intended to make the fragrance look more upscale,” says Rebecca Killian, Boom Creative’s vice president of creative.
In September, Sugar Cosmetics launched its first fragrance, Sugar Makes the Heart Grow Fonder. “Our customer is growing up, and we wanted our fragrance to have a more sophisticated appeal,” says Therese Clark of ISA Design, the company that developed the brand and designs Sugar’s packaging.
The fragrance is packaged in a glass bottle supplied and decorated by ABA Packaging. The round bottle is decorated with Sugar’s whimsical cartoon logo. A hot-pink bulb-shaped atomizer adds a trendy vintage touch. “Trends definitely trickle down. Younger consumers do want more-sophisticated products,” says Carisa Janes, owner of ISA Design and Sugar’s creative director.
Connecting with Consumers
Stoked, a fragrance for girls, and Wired to Live cologne for guys were both launched by Revelations Cosmetics in June at Claire’s stores. In November, they launched at Target stores nationwide. They were also awarded first place in HBA’s International Package Design Awards in September.
The fragrances are packaged in a glass bottle supplied by PMP Packaging, with an outer plastic surfboard surrounding it. The outer surfboard is supplied by Maticplast. An ankle bracelet is wrapped around each board. “It was critical that the package stayed flat to maintain the integrity of the surfboard’s shape,” explains Larry Couey, president, Revelations Perfume and Cosmetics.
Couey strives to launch products that convey meaningful messages to teens. He partnered with 15-year-old competitive surfer Bethany Hamilton to create the fragrances. Hamilton lost her left arm after surviving a shark attack in Hawaii in 2003. Since her recovery, Hamilton has become an inspirational speaker, encouraging kids to face their fears. A portion of the sales of these fragrances will be donated in Hamilton’s name to her favorite charity, World Vision.
“Teens today really want to buy products associated with a good cause,” says Couey. He plans on launching new products with Hamilton in the future.
Pushing the Limits of Innovation
Urban Decay and Hard Candy are both known for innovation in both products and packaging. Urban Decay is a prestige line with customers of all ages. “Many of our customers are over 20 years old and well into their 40s,” says Wende Zomnir, founding partner of Urban Decay and creative director of both the Urban Decay and Hard Candy brands. Still, the brand’s signature rebel image attracts the attention of teens and also sets an example that other brands often try to follow.
In July, Urban Decay launched Surreal Skin Liquid Makeup. It is packaged in a curvy purple bottle, inspired by images of genies and magic potions. The bottle is soft and squeezable, with a flow-through cap.
“We wanted a foundation bottle that would be easy to use,” says Zomnir. “This bottle can be used with one hand. Its cap doesn’t need to be removed. It also twists to lock, just like an Elmer’s Glue cap,” she says.
World Wide Packaging supplied the bottle, which was challenging to mold due to the small diameter of its top. “The bottle had to be squeezable and at the same time control the transition from a 1¼2-in. to a 2-in. diameter during molding, which was a tough job,” says Don Lent, director of engineering for World Wide Packaging.
Zomnir says she always thinks about how a package can help improve a product’s performance. “This bottle allows the customer to really determine the amount of product that flows out of the opening, allowing her to use every last drop of foundation,” she says.
In September, Urban Decay also launched a limited-edition Poison Ring in silver-plated sterling. The ring is the shape of a skull, and it opens to reveal a well to hold one of three interchangeable pans of lip gloss. Purple rhinestones were glued on as the skull’s eyes. HCT Packaging supplied the ring. “We came up with this idea a few years ago and brought it to HCT, which was able to produce it for us,” says Zomnir.
Not to be outdone, Hard Candy, a brand with a strong teen following, is set to launch its Kiss & Tell Fortune-Telling Lip Gloss bottle in spring 2006. The top of the bottle’s cap is clear, and a die floats inside with the words Yes, No, OK, Yuk, as well as a heart symbol and a question mark. HCT Packaging worked on this project, which was “an engineering marvel,” says Zomnir. “The biggest challenge was making sure the die would float and turn correctly, and HCT was able to find the correct material to use,” says Amy Zunzunegui, director of product development for Hard Candy.
Hard Candy also launched its Charmed Lip Gloss Bracelet this fall. The bracelet conveys the notion that cosmetics can also be a piece of jewelery. It is a charm bracelet in pink or blue, resembling a dog collar. Two miniature lip gloss vials and two charms hook onto the bracelet. HCT Packaging was its supplier. “This package consisted of many parts, which all had to be small enough to fit correctly on the bracelet, yet be large enough to be easy to use,” says Tim Thorpe, West Coast president for HCT Packaging. The bracelet is sold inside a pink-and-blue striped box with a clear top and a magnetic closure. The box was printed by HCT Packaging using a four-color process, and it is meant to be reused.
Pretty in Pink and Green
AllyKats, a brand for tweens, dresses up its pretty packages by using lots of pink and light green. AllyKats was founded in 2003 by Robyn Sessler.
Hangtags on the packages explain how Sessler’s own three daughters inspired the creation of the brand. The hangtags are printed at Lincoln Press (Sanford, ME) and then sent to Papillon Ribbon (New York City), where they are tied to pink and green bows. The bows are attached to the necks of the bottles for the Body Mist and Super Spritz hair detangler products. The bottles and caps are by McKernan Packaging (Reno, NV).
The labels were supplied by Labels West (Woodinville, WA). “The labels had to be printed with a special coating because some of the products are used in the shower,” says Sessler. AllyKat’s personal care formulas are made and filled by FMI (Allentown, PA).
The brand’s newest product is a Lip Gloss book-style compact that launched in October. The compact has an area on its back that is purposely left undecorated so customers can personalize it. “If you’re giving it as a gift, it gives them a chance to write something to that person,” says Sessler. The AllyKats line also includes a Sparkle Stick and Lip Chick, a lip balm supplied by Rainbow Sales & Packaging (Saukville, WI).
AllyKat’s bestseller is its Sparkling Powder Puff. One of the brand’s gift sets is a marabou-decorated purse containing a Sparkling Powder Puff and a Lip Chick. The purse is supplied by Equality Specialties (Miami).
A lot of AllyKat’s packaging is supplied by JPS Production and the students of the Saco Island School. Both are programs that are part of Job Placement Services, which is a program dedicated to providing vocational and academic training opportunities to adults with disabilities and also to students from local public schools.