Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Lolita Marketing

I've never been more flush than when I was 16. Back then, my spending power was limited by supply - Topshop and Barry M. Today's teenage girls are even better off and brands are actively targetting the 'baby pink pound'.

Gleneagles Spa, a luxury hotel in Scotland, offers its younger clients a 'Little Miss' range. For £20, girls from the age of six can indulge in a 30 minute Versace make-up session (Versace? This makes me think of baby whores).

‘Yummy mummy’ culture seems to be driving this trend along with a style of parenting in which many want to be ‘mates’ with their kids. But it is also that children are just more grown-up these days, especially girls. It’s telling that the term ‘tween’ is exclusive to girls, after all.

Proctor & Gamble are rethinking the target market for ‘Covergirl’ cosmetics. Make-up game-playing will be introduced to attract 8 year olds. Face Boutique is the best example I’ve seen of a beauty brand marketing to the new girl consumers. Stocked in Space NK for a start, it boasts ethical ingredients and Julie Verhoeven-style illustrated packaging.

I love the trend for ‘Sweet Sixteen’ style parties (as in the MTV show). Companies such as ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ make every brat’s dream come true – from pamper parties with never-ending lipgloss to turning the back garden into fairyland, costing up to £800 a pop.

It seems like a knee-jerk reaction to say this kind of marketing is wrong but why can’t sophisticated pre-teens be treated as the willing and able consumers they are? Done properly, this could actually be life-enhancing.

Teen novels and magazines are a perfect example of this. I genuinely believe my generation would be worse off without More magazine’s ‘Position of the month’, the word ‘Phwoarsome’ (thank you Bliss magazine), and Judy Blume (Paula Danziger I could live without).

I could rant on forever about my obsession with teenage girls but I’ll wrap up with this phrase I read in a G2 article today on the new tween film, ‘Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging’. The film is based on the books by Louise Rennison, who seems to have captured perfectly the ‘waiting-on-the-edge-of-life-for-it-all-to-happen’. All those grammatical dashes. How very Sugar magazine.

I must credit journalist Ella Alexander for her great article Painted Princesses in Pigeons & Peacocks magazine I have referenced from.

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