While beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, many media outlets
have built their success by telling readers exactly what products and
styles make them most attractive.
Beauty writers tend to be thought of as self-help gurus, offering
advice about everything from low self-esteem to weight loss to what
eyeliner or lipstick will last the longest. 'The beauty magazines are
really set up as shopping guides,' says Ildy Herczeg, president of
DeVries Public Relations.
But Bill Daddi, EVP at New York-based Lippe Taylor, says it's a mistake
to dismiss what beauty writers do as anything less than traditional
'They are true journalists in that they are highly educated about the
products they cover,' he says. 'They know the history and the
ingredients, and they work very hard at trying to reflect the interests
of their target audience.'
When it comes to the subject of beauty, the traditional media behemoths
- national networks and top-tier publications - tend to take a back seat
to more specialized outlets. 'Surveys have found that the majority of
women base their beauty-product buying decisions on women's magazines,'
says Margi Booth, president of M Booth & Associates.
In the past, long-standing women's magazines, such as fashion-oriented
Vogue and Glamour, and the more general-interest Redbook, held sway with
both high-end and mass-market consumers. And while they are still
important, the recent trend has been for cosmetics and hair-care
companies to chase a younger demographic. 'Most of the action is in the
younger end of the segment,' says Daddi.
Indeed, the teen and young women's media market has exploded in recent
years. Traditional publications Seventeen, Teen and YM have been joined
by a slew of new ones - Jump, Twist, Teen People, Vogue Girl, CosmoGirl!
and the soon-to-be-launched Elle Girl.
The 'youth obsession'
John Ledes, editor and publisher of leading trade magazines Beauty
Fashion and Cosmetic World, says that despite the fact that the teen
beauty market hasn't grown much in recent years, a 'youth obsession' has
impacted all aspects of the beauty industry, from branding and
advertising to PR and journalism. 'The positioning is trying to get
everyone to look and feel younger,' says Ledes. '(Magazines) talk to
even the 40-year-old woman like she's younger. You're complimenting her,
but you're also trying to get teens interested in the same
PR professionals say the most influential journalists tend to be media
veterans such as Kristin Perrotta of Allure; Jean Godfrey-June of the
new Conde Naste magazine Lucky; Vogue's Amy Astley; Didi Gluck from
Marie Claire; Elizabeth Schatz of InStyle and Rebecca Sample of Glamour.
Of all those magazines, Allure is considered the 'beauty bible,' since
it is more focused on cosmetics and hair-care than fashion.
Peter Born of Women's Wear Daily, John Ledes and Doreen Kaplan of Beauty
Fashion, and Jane Larkworthy of W lead the beauty trade journalists. But
there is also a host of highly sought after reporters and editors at
Drug Store News, Chain Drug Marketing, Supermarket News and other
Nancy Lowman LaBadie, EVP of Marina Maher Communications, says most
beauty journalists tend to stay in the field, enabling PR professionals
to build long-term relationships. 'They may switch (media outlets) as
they move along and grow, but you don't see them cover beauty one day
and automotive the next,' she says. The result, LaBadie adds, is that
they tend to understand the science behind product claims.
Booth, who represents Unilever's Dove Beauty Bar, agrees. 'Beauty is
always going to be about glamour, but it's getting a lot more like the
health industry,' she observes. 'When we take our clients to beauty
editors, we often bring along a dermatologist and a nutritionist to talk
about the products as part of women's overall well-being.' In fact, she
says, most beauty editors insist on scientific and health research to
back up claims.
Because the beauty industry depends so much on magazines for its
success, much of its US marketing and PR attention is centered on the
nation's magazine capital, New York. But LaBadie says there has been an
increased effort to reach out to local radio and television. 'We've seen
a big increase in satellite media tours, especially if you have an
expert, an author or a spokesperson that can comment on a trend. We do
ours very, very early in the morning, so they're on the morning news,
and then they're often repeated on later newscasts.'
Most beauty journalism tends to exist in a world far from the front
pages of general-interest publications. But occasionally a product
breaks in to the mass-market media. Biore Pore Perfect Deep Cleansing
Nose Strips is one such example.
Daddi says that while Biore had no problem getting women's and teen
magazines interested in the product, they wanted a wider audience. So
the company sponsored Lilith Fair, the concert tour featuring only
female artists, and, as a result, engaged general-interest media outlets
throughout the country. Fueled in part by product shortages, Biore nose
strips became a national story covered by USA Today and The Washington
Post, among others.
Along with the focus on youth, there has also been an increased emphasis
on ethnic publications, such as Latina for the Hispanic market, and
Honey, Heart & Soul and Essence, which are aimed at African-American
women. There is also a growing online market, especially for teens and
young women, which has resulted in the launch of sites such as Bolt and
Alloy. Women's community sites, such as iVillage, have also been
Surprisingly, another area of beauty journalism that has real, long-term
potential is men's grooming. 'You're already seeing a lot more interest
from publications like Maxim,' says Daddi, adding that men's grooming
editors are very plugged in as far as the trends go, but are still in
the process of figuring out what their audience wants and the best way
to present information. 'We haven't quite gotten to the golden age of
men's beauty products,' he concludes.
WHERE TO GO
Women's: Vogue; Harper's Bazaar; Marie Claire; Redbook; Mademoiselle;
Working Women; Glamour; Lucky; InStyle; Elle; Ladies Home Journal
Teen: Seventeen; YM; Teen; CosmoGirl!; Vogue Girl; Twist; Jump; Teen
Women's Wear Daily; W; Cosmetic World; Beauty Fashion; Drug Store News;
Supermarket News; Chain Drug Marketing
Oprah (syndicated); The View (ABC); Oxygen cable network; Lifetime cable
network; morning news shows
Teen: Bolt.com; Alloy.com