Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Healthy is the New Skinny

The “Healthy is the New Skinny” Campaign Fights Back
Teen Vogue’s support of the push to promote a positive body image among young girls and what it means for beauty brand marketers

By Andrea Bussey

Society as the Supervillain

For years, parents and doctors have faced the daunting task of fighting the forces weighing heavily on the minds of teenage girls. Models, actresses, and celebrities displayed on television and in advertisements have been the subject of attention as young girls search for validation of their beauty.  In many cases, parents and psychologists believe that these mainstream advertisements are responsible for negative body images held by this delicate, impressionable demographic.  Girls have succumbed to drastic weight loss measures, eating disorders, and in less severe cases, distasteful misuse of beauty products all in an effort to make themselves “beautiful.” For this reason, TeenVogue, one of the most popular publications among teenage girls, is featuring the "Healthy is the New Skinny" (HNS) campaign in its June/July issue.

According to the official website, HNS is a multi-platform movement to spread the message to young girls across the country that a healthy life is a happy life.  The movement is structured in three major components: The Perfectly UnPerfected Program, HNS Ambassadors, and the online apparel store.  PUP is the non-profit arm of the movement that offers outreach to high school and college audiences by making on-site presentations on self-esteem, body image, and healthy living.  The program ambassadors may be former or current models, beauty industry experts, or students who believe in the movement’s mission and are dedicated to reversing the effects of having a negative body image.  All participants and supporters are encouraged to wear branded apparel to support the movement and spread the word as quickly as possible.  HNS is on a mission to show teenage girls that society is redirecting its attack on the female body by proving that they don’t need to change who they are to be beautiful!

What This Means for Marketers

As advocates for products used to augment physical appearance, beauty brand managers must consider the potential impact of societal trends.  While cosmetics and fragrances are intended to enhance the consumer, this movement proves that latent motivators may drive consumers to use the products for other reasons.  In the case of many teenager girls, beauty products are used in an attempt to conceal insecurities and adverse body images.  As marketers, we must be sensitive to this epidemic and genuinely position the products as mere enhancements for people who are already beautiful.  As beauty products are primarily used for facial enhancement, brand marketers must devise targeted campaigns that deliver the message: “Beauty” is you. The brand’s reach may not occupy the space in a teenager’s mind that cultivates body image, but an empowering message can certainly assist in directing her down the right path.

Leverage the Power of Brand DNA to Succeed Amidst a Changing Demographic

                  The history of the beauty industry dates back to the eighteenth century, so I do not predict obsolescence in the near future.  However, throughout time, industry professionals have set trends and adjusted to trends, depending on consumer demand.  The time has come again for adjustments to be made so that we may support the millions of teenage girls who are struggling with their self-esteem and body image.  Consider taking the following steps to place your brand among the ranks of HNS campaign supporters:

v  Evaluate your brand DNA to determine how it should be positioned to uplift the teenage demographic through a targeted campaign.

v  In the spirit of beautiful diversity, incorporate non-traditional models and actors into product campaigns targeted to the younger demographic.  This includes television, print, and in-store displays.  Be the brand to lead by example.

v  Encourage colleagues to get involved with the HNS movement when/where possible.  Ambassadors appear at schools to speak to students, and the expertise and insight offered by a beauty industry professional is hugely impactful.

v  DONATE to HNS!  Statewide school tours reach over 10,000 students, and donations go toward supporting all related expenses. Your support is needed!

Beauty does not come in one size, shape, color, or creed.  It lives in all of us.  Not only as brand marketers, but also as adults, we are accountable for the state of our youth.  Teenage girls are putting themselves in danger by trying to change their bodies to become what we have told them is beautiful.  The "Healthy is the New Skinny" campaign seeks to unite us all as we take strides to encourage healthy, vibrant living above all else.  Beauty brand marketers operate on a platform that has the potential to impact thousands of lives.  After all, beauty is what we say it is.

Andrea is a student in Northwestern University’s Master’s Integrated Marketing Communications program.  Her studies are concentrated in Brand Management and Digital Marketing, and she has a particular interest in the beauty industry. 

Love of beauty is taste.  The creation of beauty is art. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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