By  on February 25, 1994

NEW YORK -- Conair Corp. is abandoning mainstream hair care marketing to powerhouses such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever and seeking refuge in a niche.

The new strategy will involve the phasing out of two unprofitable, broad-based brands -- Jheri Redding Glossing and the Conair-label hair care products. They will be replaced by the introductions this spring of two new hair care lines with specialty positionings.

Conair Hair Management for Men, slated for shipment in April, will go after a piece of the underdeveloped men's grooming market in the U.S. The Jheri Redding Vitamin Therapy line, which will be shipped in mid-March, will be positioned as a remedy for damaged hair.

"At this point, the hair care market is incredibly competitive," said Ed Rabin, vice president of marketing for the Conair Toiletries Division, which manufactures hair and body care products under both the Conair and Jheri Redding names.

"The market has become so price sensitive and advertising intensive that unless you are a budget line or have tremendous amounts of advertising support, it is very difficult to compete," said Rabin.

"If you are going to be moderately or premium priced and have a smaller advertising budget than the major marketers, you have to be something really special."

The seven-item Jheri Redding Vitamin Therapy line will be distributed in drugstores, mass merchandisers and select food outlets. It will consist of 14-oz. bottles of Moisturizing Shampoo, Thickening Shampoo and Replenishing Conditioner, 12-oz. Alcohol-Free Mousse and Alcohol-Free Gel, an 8-oz. tube of Mineral Mud Damaged Hair Treatment and a 10-oz. Ultra Hold Spritz.

The collection will be line-priced. Each item in the line will be $1.99 at discounters like Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target, and $2.49 at traditional chain drugstores, such as Walgreens.

Rabin projects the line will have a first-year wholesale volume of around $10 million.

Conair will back the brand with $2 million to $3 million in advertising and promotional support, Rabin said. A print campaign will break in May magazines. There will also be on-pack $2 mail-in rebates for the shampoo and conditioner and $1 mail-in rebates for the styling products.

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