By  on January 14, 1994

NEW YORK -- Cosmair is making its first major attempt to loosen Procter & Gamble's grip on the hair care category with a new shampoo and conditioner called Hydravive Performance.

The effort by Cosmair -- the New York-based licensee of L'Oreal SA -- is the latest in the French parent company's long campaign to claim American market share in the hair category and in the makeup, skin care and fragrance segments of the industry.

In the crowded and fiercely competitive $2.2 billion shampoo and conditioner market, said industry sources, L'Oreal has been kept to a 2 to 3 percent market share in unit sales for Colorvive and Permavive combined, two niche brands for chemically treated hair.

L'Oreal is several rungs below P&G on the mass market ladder in the U.S. Among its arsenal of hair care brands, the Cincinnati-based consumer products giant has shampoo leaders Pert Plus and Pro-V, which control 7 and 5 percent shares of the market, respectively, according to sources.

Overall, P&G controls 25 percent of the shampoo market in food and drug stores and 10.5 percent of the conditioner market, according to Towne-Oller & Associates. L'Oreal, by contrast, has 1.1 percent of the shampoo market and 2.6 percent of the conditioner market.

With the introduction in February of Hydravive, a five-item line targeted at the market's mainstream, L'Oreal hopes to shift the balance.

Hydravive is expected to double the company's total share this year, according to Joe Campinell, senior vice president and general manager of the hair division.

Although Campinell declined to give specifics, industry sources say L'Oreal expects to achieve a unit share of 5 percent in 1994, a development that would translate into a 7 percent share in dollars for a volume of about $154 million for the three shampoo lines.

For 1995, L'Oreal's plans call for Hydravive to edge toward a 4 percent share in units, giving the company a 6 to 7 percent share, according to sources.

"Hydravive, along with Colorvive and Permavive, will give us a major foothold in the mass market shampoo and conditioner business," Campinell said.

Guy Peyrelongue, president and chief executive officer of Cosmair, called the entry into the American shampoo market L'Oreal's "most important strategic move" in 1994.

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