‘Sephora kids’ and the booming business of beauty products for children

24 January 2024

Tween girls under 12 are flooding beauty stores, prompting a surge in sales of beauty and skincare products marketed towards younger demographics.

A social media frenzy has erupted around beauty retailer Sephora, with complaints flooding in from teen and adult shoppers about the influx of tween girls under 12 in stores. Social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram are filled with posts showcasing messy stores, disrupted product displays, and encounters with rude young shoppers. These incidents have sparked a debate about the increasing popularity of beauty products among children. Are tweens really flooding stores and purchasing products designed for older consumers? This article explores the phenomenon and its implications for the beauty industry.

The rise of beauty products for tweens

According to Denish Shah, an associate professor of marketing at Georgia State University, tweens are not only flooding Sephora stores, but they are also making significant online purchases. Shah highlights the success of California-based cosmetics brand e.l.f., which positions itself as an affordable cosmetics brand targeting the tween demographic. E.l.f.’s sales have skyrocketed, reflecting the broader trend of the beauty and skincare industry targeting younger customers. Data from Statista reveals that the baby and child skincare market is expected to grow rapidly, reaching $380 million in market volume worldwide by 2028.

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The emergence of tween-focused brands

The beauty and skincare industry has witnessed the launch of numerous brands specifically catering to tweens and younger demographics. Brands like Yawn, Bubble, and Gryt have emerged to provide makeup and skincare products for children as young as three years old. Jessica DeFino, creator of The Unpublishable newsletter, observes an explosion of tween products and notes that girls younger than teens are increasingly using adult products. Retailers like CVS and Walgreens have also revamped their stores to prominently feature beauty products, including those marketed to kids through cross-branding with popular books or TV shows.

Marketing strategies targeting tweens

Brands are employing various marketing strategies to capture the attention of tweens. In addition to creating products specifically designed for younger users, there has been a surge in social media marketing aimed at young consumers. Tweens, often referred to as “skinfluencers,” demonstrate product usage and share beauty tips with their followers. The increased time spent on social media during the pandemic has exposed tweens to influencers who are paid to promote beauty and skincare products. Sophisticated algorithms further amplify this exposure by recommending beauty-related content to users based on their search history.

The perfect storm of self-consciousness and marketing

Tweens are known to be preoccupied with their personal appearance and self-identity. They are highly sensitive to their developing bodies and how they will turn out. This self-consciousness, combined with the marketing efforts targeting younger demographics, has created the perfect storm driving sales in this age group. The beauty industry has tapped into these insecurities and capitalized on the desire of tweens to enhance their appearance.

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While Sephora and Ulta Beauty declined to comment on the influx of tween shoppers, the booming market for youth-targeted beauty products speaks for itself. The beauty and skincare industry has witnessed a significant shift towards catering to younger demographics, with brands launching products specifically designed for tweens and even younger children. The rise of social media and influencers has played a crucial role in exposing tweens to beauty trends and products. As the market continues to grow, it is essential to consider the implications of marketing beauty products to such young consumers and the impact it may have on their self-perception and development.

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