My friends at Rants From Mommyland emailed me to ask if I could make one of my fancy charts for them. I said, "Of course! I love making fancy charts!" And they said, awesome, we want to do a chart as a companion piece to our post about Walmart debuting a make-up line aimed at 8-12 year olds. And I was like, "Ok, sure. Wait. WHAT???"
Rants had a great post about it in their newspaper column yesterday so I'm not going to try to out-do them. But I felt compelled to post about it here because I find the idea of marketing cosmetics to 8-12 year old girls so so WRONG.
Mazzy is 13 months old. Obviously, she is not the target market. But if they are marketing make-up to eight year-olds now, who's to say who they will be marketing to a few years from now? You see, the thing with big corporations is that they are almost always trying to increase their sales by doing one of two things:
1) Upping the frequency that their current consumers use their products. Like— how do we get our customers to eat Nutella more often? I know— let's create a whole new eating occassion called breakfast dessert! (That's not Nutella's actual marketing strategy, I just think it would be awesome).
2) Expanding their customer base.
In the case of cosmetics, companies can't possibly get their customers to use their products more frequently— they have already convinced the majority of us that we look absolutely horrid with anything less than full face armor. SO— the only option appears to be expanding the target.
Here's how I imagine the decision to debut GeoGirl cosmetics went down at Walmart:
"Our new 'While You Sleep Cosmetics' line is currently in testing. So the next order of business is— who can we market cosmetics to besides women?"
"What about men?"
"I'm scared of clowns."
"No, pandas are going extinct."
"No, we don't have any Walmarts slated to open in space until at least 2015."
"Oh, I know! 8-12 year old girls!"
"YES! They're so young and impressionable they won't even know to look past our bullshit marketing techniques!"
"PLUS— we'll be able to drive home ideal standards of beauty before they even know that they're supposed to have self-image issues!"
"Which would mean a lifetime of loyal consumers that can be sold on just about anything!"
And then next year, when all the 8-12 year old girls in America are already wearing their GeoGirl lipstick, mascara and body shimmer, what do you think will happen? That same group of people will convene in that same meeting room except this time they'll have a fancy bagel and cream cheese platter due to all their GeoGirl 2011 profits and the following conversation will occur:
"Congratulations on cornering the 8-12 year-old market! Thanks to us, even pre-pubescent girls are covering up under-eye circles and learning how to contour their noses with our online blush technique tutorials! It's a Walmart windfall!"
"Great! Should we pat ourselves on the back and go home?"
"No!!! We have to continue to increase our profit margins in 2012. So. Who should we target?"
"I don't think so."
"Still scared of them."
"How are those pandas doing?"
"I think Sarah Palin shot the last one!"
"What about space aliens?"
"Sorry— The Cruise clan is booked. Tom is taking Suri on a year-long shopping spree on the moon."
"Hmph. Ok— how bout 4-7 year-old girls?"
But you know, I'm sure your four-year-old will look great with eye shadow. It's totally gonna give her slutty witch costume the perfect touch on Halloween!
So, tell me— am I overreacting? I mean, I know little girls play dress-up and are bound to dabble in their mom's make-up, but doesn't creating a cosmetics line specifically for 8-12 year old girls reek of pure marketing EVIL?
Your Nutella comment is funny! When we lived in Germany I got in trouble for sending a PBJ to the German kindergarten for snack….cause jelly is dessert. Guess what though? Nutella is NOT a dessert. So now my kids take PBNs to school and every kid in their American school is jealous!
Yes, Evil. That’s all I have to say. Except that this is a funny post, and I’m glad you’re raising awareness, and calling into question the sleazy marketing tactics that Walmart is stooping to in the name of making another buck. Seems to me like ‘just say no’ would be a good slogan/tactic to apply here. If we don’t buy it, their evil plan will fail, and perhaps they’ll have to (gasp) practice ethical marketing. Wouldn’t that be great?
My oldest daughter will be 8 this year. I can’t imagine buying her makeup for her to wear to school or teaching her how to put it on. I think my husband would hand me divorce papers if I ever let our kids wear makeup before they are teenagers. Walmart’s makeup line for young girls is another reason why I refuse to shop at that horrible store.
“Our new ‘While You Sleep Cosmetics’ line is currently in testing” Hahaha, you’re so funny…
No you’re not overreacting. Totally pure marketing evil. I’d let my daughter use it for dress up like you mentioned but an 8-12 year old girl doesn’t need makeup for every day life. I wasn’t even allowed to wear make up until I was 13 and I think that sounds about right for my own daughter. Maybe the makeup is more gentle on their young skin for dress up time though. So I might buy it for that purpose/because my own makeup is expensive and I’m cheap and don’t wanna share haha.
Great post. So funny. You’re easing my Superbowl hangover. This whole kid makeup thing is making me glad I have a boy. Although I wouldn’t rule out boy makeup marketing attempts. ’80s fashions ARE back!!! Boys actually wore black eyeliner in my high school in the 80s like The Cure and Bowie. Scary.
It’s really bad. And 1,000 years from now (if we’re still around), that makeup will be in a display case at a museum of natural history BAFFLING people who attempt to understand our twisted cultural fetish with products, femininity and beauty. We have lost all perspective.
It takes a lot to render me speechless, but um, yeah. I just don’t even know where to begin except to say: 1. As if Wal-Mart wasn’t already evil enough. 2. The line of thinking that deemed this acceptable or a good idea is so beyond F@#*ed up that it is incomprehensible to me.
i’m as big of a makeup whore as anyone (kardashian sisters not withstanding) and even i think this is appalling. but on the upside, this post is pure genius! and proof that all of those years spent in advertising have helped you truly get into the minds of marketers.
The funny thing is, with all those so-called “emo” boys out there, they probably could have made some serious bank marketing to teenage guys. Instead, their conservative Christian/Mormon/whatever-the-F “values” dictate they must keep the gender lines clearly drawn and enforced.
It’s really too bad. My teenage brother is in need of a good mascara.
You’re not overreacting. Make-up for children is beyond tacky; it’s just gross.
Most days I don’t wear makeup. I can’t believe this could be used for anything up dress up at home.
I completely agree with you! Your post is funny, by the way, but you’re totally on target. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Oh I would have loved to have had you as a mother growing up. My mother would have let me eat a PBN for lunch over HER DEAD BODY.
I know people say it’s the parents’ responsibility and I agree— but why make it SO F’ING HARD?
For dress-up, I don’t have a problem with make-up. But it in that case I think it’s pretty clear that they are pretending to be an adult and getting a taste of an adult world by using it. Plus playing dress-up is an occasional thing, not an everyday standard.
I have no problem with make-up for boys. But I’m pretty sure Walmart would.
I know. (As I reapply lipstick). We are one messed up bunch.
There excuse is that kids were using make-up anyway so they made a line that is safe for young skin. YEAH. Altruism at its finest.
Marketing 101. The easiest class on earth.
And I would take make-up tips from you over Khloe or Kim any day. They clearly have not mastered the art of “less is more”.
There are days when I would love to throw some cover-up on my husband. But society dictates that he must wear his blemishes with pride. Lucky or unlucky? I am not sure.
I learned early on that “natural” is not a good look on me. So sad. But so happy for Sephora!
Here is where I say that I’m glad that I have 3 little boys…
I’ve spent the day hard at work doing research, but I believe I have finally found it. Here now, the oft forgotten Nostradamus 23.5 quatrain:
“In which it is written, the great god of superstores enslaves the populace seducing them with makeup for 8 – 12 year olds, Paris Hilton sparkly pink pet carryalls, and designer shoe wear for Suri Cruise. Meanwhile mothers and fathers are held captive, shrieking under the burden. In this future their pleas will be received by headless corporate idiots as divine prayers.”
The man was a prophet, what can I say?
I so enjoyed this post in an Armageddon-is-nigh kind of way.
PS: The Nutella thing? Like you, hell would have frozen over before my mother would let me eat a chocolate spread as a breakfast food.
You had me at breakfast dessert/ Nutella.
But in all seriousness? This is nuts. Sure, my girls steal my lip gloss and I paint their nails (p.s. they are 5 year-old twins), but a whole makeup line geared towards pre-teens? Yikes.
Isn’t obvious that those crazy moms on Toddler & Tiaras need a convenient cheesy place to shop. I’m betting Walmart will be one of their regular sponsors.
Tom Cruise, Walmart, and Sarah Palin team up to destroy the world = scariest movie ever. OR. Our current state of affairs.
We have commiserated before about the lack of junkfood in our homes growing up and I’m pretty sure we will commiserate again. Some things scar you for life.
Breakfast dessert is going to be my new cause du jour. Right after I save Suri’s feet.
I bet all those pageant toddlers live hidden in a back room of Walmart somewhere. Only allowed out to smile and dance “All the Single Ladies” in creepy cowboy attire.
Hilarious post on an issue that is utter craziness. Let’s hope that enough moms think the same way and expected sales fall far below their expectations!