Tasty lips, sweet as Junior Mints

March 21, 2004|By Christina Minor | Christina Minor,Cox News Service

One cosmetics maker is betting teen-age girls want to lick their lips. They're betting those same girls want to make their lips kissably sweet.

Lotta Luv, a New York-based cosmetics and beauty company, introduced the Bake Shoppe and Candy Corner, two collections of lip glosses based on favorite brands of sweets, last year. The Bake Shoppe includes Hostess Ding Dongs, Ho Hos and Twinkies. Candy Corner markets Sugar Daddy, Cracker Jacks, Junior Mints, Dots and Hershey's glosses, among others.

But they don't stop with popular baked goods and candies. Fourteen flavors of Snapple drinks will become lip glosses in the next couple of months. A Lay's Sour Cream and Onion flavor will hit stores sometime this year. And a Cheetos- flavored lip gloss already exists, a company representative said.

The idea of food-inspired lip glosses isn't new to the cosmetics industry. Bonne Bell Lip Smacker products have been around since 1973. "Tweens" and teens have bought the strawberry shortcakes, bubble gums, pink lemonades, sugared mochas, vanillas and watermelons. The company also offers Dr Pepper- and Starburst-flavored glosses.

Company literature states Lip Smacker was the first line of flavored glosses introduced to the public. Today, the lip balm industry is a $500 million one, thanks to thousands of tween and teen girls.

"Girls are really all about the scents and flavors," said the Lotta Luv president, Steph Fogelson.

The target audience for these branded lip glosses is girls ages 8 to 14. But at Claire's Boutiques in Richland Mall in Texas, college students are the biggest buyers, a manager said.

"When the younger girls realize it's not candy, they don't want it," assistant manager Kacy Knight said. "I think they prefer the real stuff to the lip glosses. We used to have the candy and lip glosses together. But we had to move the candy because the girls were getting it confused. The packaging is very similar."

Knight describes the glosses as conversation starters. Girls see other girls putting it on, and they want some for themselves, she said.

"Never in my right mind would I have thought to invent something like that," she said. "But it's a great idea. And they sell great. Reese's Peanut Butter Cup is our best seller."

The food companies whose products are becoming tastes and scents for lip balm are excited. At Interstate Brands Companies, maker of Hostess snack cakes, the idea seemed like a sweet deal.

"The lip glosses really do have an aroma that smells like the cakes," said Mike Redd, marketing vice president for Hostess. "Hostess is all about fun, and these lip glosses are a translation of that fun."

Redd said he smelled and tasted the glosses for accuracy before any of them hit store shelves.

Co-branding is definitely a good marketing strategy, said Richard Easley, who teaches marketing at Baylor University. It's a way for two companies to get their products out there, and both reap the benefits.

"I was trying to think of a way [the companies'] needs would be met," Easley said, "and all I could think of is teens' brand preferences are not that strong. Since teens are not extremely loyal to any one thing, this is a way for companies to get their names out there and get teens to buy."

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