Media Analysis: Teen titles vital to cosmetics firms

More teenage girls than ever are wearing make-up, buying the latest fashions and trying to ape their favourite celebrities, and the teen media is an obvious route to their audience. Mairi Clark reports on a growing sector.

The loss of innocence of young girls is a long-standing trend. The lure of crop tops and bare midriffs to young girls barely in their teens has been joined by that of cosmetics, with nine out of ten 14-year-olds saying they use make-up, according to a new report from Mintel.

The survey - which questioned 5,856 seven to 19-year-old girls - showed that the number aged 11-14 who use lipstick or lip gloss on a daily basis has more than doubled in two years, with 63 per cent of seven to ten-year-olds now wearing lipstick. More than two in five girls in the same age group wear eye shadow or eyeliner, and almost one in four uses mascara.

Controversial

On the back of the report, Mintel controversially recommended that cosmetics vending machines should be allowed in schools.

In the meantime, it is the teen media - the likes of Sugar, Bliss, Cosmogirl!

and Elle Girl - on which the cosmetics companies rely to promote their products to a younger audience.

Gillian Waddell, managing director of Fuel PR, which represents several high-profile hair and beauty clients, says the key is to have good relationships with journalists and know what they are planning. 'There seems no end to what the teenage female market wants to know about,' she says. 'They're particularly interested in how to look like their celebrity idols.'

Weber Shandwick North works on the accounts of skincare products T-Zone and Witch. Account manager Paul Wheeler says: 'We target 11 to 18-year-olds with T-Zone and an older market with Witch,' he says. 'We simply look at up-and-coming features to place spot treatments.

'Sugar, for example, has just done a back-to-school feature, so we got one of our spot stick products in there. Most of the magazines do a spot feature twice a year.'

Bombarding editors with samples and gimmicks is not the key. It's more important to be available to explain a new range or fill a last-minute slot, and to create quirky ideas. 'We've got really good relations with PR agencies,' says Sugar beauty editor Leanne Warrick. 'Every year we do a model competition with Rimmel: we go round shopping centres with make-up demonstrations and bands. It's not so much a modelling competition as a day out for our readers, but we don't get approached with many ideas like that.'

Warrick believes the trend for young girls to wear make-up is fuelled by scientific progress. 'I think it's because make-up is not so scary now,' she says. 'We write about it in a fun way.'

Ensuring you know about awards could see your product win the stamp of approval from a magazine. Cosmogirl! has a 'Kiss of Approval' awards scheme, which it uses to highlight products it has tested.

Confidence boosters

All the teenage magazines insist they are not encouraging young girls to play on their sexuality, merely to increase their confidence. 'Our mission is to encourage our readers "to be the best you can be",' says Cosmogirl! beauty editor Donna Francis. 'Instead of modelling competitions, our Cosmogirl! of the Year competition is about inspirational teenagers who are making a difference.

'The hair, skin and make-up stories we produce are practical how-to guides that show beauty basics in easy-to-follow formats. They encourage girls to make the most of their looks rather than change them: how to use concealer to cover up blemishes and boost confidence, for example, rather than apply make-up to look older.'

Magazines play an important part in marketing cosmetics. 'We're capturing teenage girls at a time when they're unsure about things,' says Warrick.

'We can advise them on cosmetics and how to wear them. It's about building their confidence and experience.'

Fuel PR's Waddell believes peer pressure also has an effect. 'The fact that something's expensive will not put them off; they'll get it somehow,' she says. 'They want to be cool and trendy, to be part of a gang. The media plays a part in that. It might use emotive language and pictures, but I think it's more of a peer pressure and celebrity issue.'

HOW THE BIG FOUR TEENAGE GIRLS' TITLES FOLLOW THE FASHION

ELLE GIRL

Age range: 16-19

Frequency: monthly

Contact: Antonia Kanczula, editorial assistant, 0207 150 7000

Treats beauty and hair in a broad sense. Coverage of products and news

is scattered throughout the magazine

COSMOGIRL!

Age range: 14-19

Frequency: monthly

Contact: Donna Francis, beauty editor, 0207 439 5000

Seven pages dedicated to beauty, fashion and health, 14 to 'Mind, Body

and Spirit'. Also a dedicated hair page

BLISS

Age range: 14-17

Frequency: monthly

Contact: Heidi Schumacher, beauty editor, 0207 437 9011

Ten pages of beauty, but that number fluctuates month to month

SUGAR

Age range: 14-17

Frequency: monthly

Contact: Leanne Warrick, beauty editor, 0207 150 7000

Top-selling title in sector. It carries a beauty page and a hair page

but also features products if it's dedicating its hair and beauty

feature to a theme.

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