According to new research from independent market analyst Datamonitor, teenagers are using personal care products including cosmetics, makeup and hair care items for a variety of purposes; as a means to establish their sense of identity, fit in with their peers and experiment and have fun.
"Although teens are a shrinking demographic, they are a crucial one for manufacturers. At this age, consumers are prepared to experiment with a wide variety of products and brands. Although many will be abandoned, this period will play an important role in forming long-term personal care habits and preferences," said Datamonitor's consumer analyst Lawrence Gould.
Teenage personal care use is largely driven by the desire to establish a sense of individuality, tempered by a need for belonging or acceptance within society in general or by a particular peer group, reports the new study.
"Teens wish to distinguish themselves from the herd but, crucially, not too much. Insecurity is a problem plaguing adolescents and the desire to be different is tempered by the fear of rejection or exclusion," said a Datamonitor spokesperson.
Fun has also been highlighted as an important aspect of teen personal care. This applies particularly to girls, as male teenagers' experimentation with personal care products is largely limited, despite the launch of brands such as OT Overtime that target tweens aged 9-16 years old.
Girls are much more willing to experiment with make-up and fragrances. This applies particularly to younger teenagers, since older teens prefer to use brands aimed at an adult audience. Celebrity idols have a certain amount of influence over this group, as teenagers tend to try and emulate their favourite idols' look.
A further need governing teenage personal care consumption is their desire for maturity, as they strive to appear and behave as if they were older than they really are. This is thought to manifest itself in older teenage girls' preferences regarding personal care brands.
The study claims that teenage girls aged 15 years or more, contrary to received wisdom, do in fact listen to their mothers, and frequently favour many of the same brands of cosmetics.