NEW YORK — After taking his hair care line out of the department store market, where it flourished in the mid-Eighties, Philip Kingsley is moving to a new venue — television.
Kingsley has teamed up with Infomercial Retail Management, which produced the Norma Kamali beauty infomercial, to create a show for his Precisely Focused Care hair products.
The infomercial will begin to air “by the end of this month,” said Roy Benjamin, a partner in IRM. He said specific dates had not yet been confirmed.
“We’ll test it in eight to 12 markets in April and May,” he said. “That way, we can make some adjustments, if they’re needed, before we roll it out to the rest of the country.”
Benjamin said the infomercial will air by the end of this year in “every major market” in the U.S. After that, he said, the products will be introduced into mass market retail outlets.
Also appearing in the half-hour spots will be Carlotta Jacobson, formerly of Harper’s Bazaar, and novelist Pat Booth. They will offer testimony on the efficacy of the hair products.
“It’s meant to be a talk-show format,” said Kingsley. “We want to be informational, but we don’t want people to get bored and turn away.”
Kingsley and Benjamin declined to discuss a production budget, but sources estimate the initial creation of the infomercial, before the purchasing of air time, cost around $400,000.
Viewers will be able to call a toll-free number, and operators will then question them to determine what products from the line fit their individual hair types.
“It’s not just ‘dry, normal and oily,”‘ said Kingsley of the Focused Care line. “I don’t think those are realistic categories — hair can be oily at the roots and dry at the tips.”
He said the operators will attempt to fit customers into categories like frizzy, coarse or curly, and then recommend a regimen to fit.
First-time callers will be introduced to the line through a six-item starter kit, which Benjamin said will “most likely” be around $49.95. The products have a retail value of more than $100, he said.
The kit will include a 10-oz. shampoo, a 10-oz. conditioner, a 6.7-oz. Scalp Energizer and a 2-oz. Elasticizer, as well as two of the following: a 6.7-oz. Maximizer (a hair volume builder), a 1-oz. SSP (standing for “smoothes, shines and protects”) or a 4-oz. Curl Activator.
Filling out the line, which overall will have 15 products, are a 6.7-oz. hair spray and a 6.7-oz. gel. The shampoo, conditioner and scalp energizer will each be available in three formulas: Body Building, Moisture Balancing and Remoisturizing.
Kingsley has been in the hair care business since 1960, when he opened his first clinic in London.
In 1982 he brought his signature line to the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship, and his department store distribution was expanded in 1984 when Elizabeth Arden took over his distribution.
“We were reaching $1 million at retail in Saks alone,” Kingsley said.
Kingsley bought back the line in 1987 when Arden changed ownership, and since then has gradually removed the products from most retail outlets.
The signature line is still sold at his two clinics in London and one in New York, as well as “a handful” of specialty stores, according to Kingsley. The Focused Care line was created specifically for sale through the infomercial and at the clinics.
While Kingsley and IRM now hope to rebuild an audience through TV, the Focused Care products will also be taken into traditional retail outlets, beginning early next year.
“We’re using the infomercial to build the name and create demand,” said Benjamin. “It’s just another way of launching a product.”
The line will initially be introduced in 10,000 to 12,000 “chain drug and food-drug chain doors,” he noted, and will eventually reach 20,000 mass market units.
“Hair care is a drugstore universe,” Benjamin said. “This is where people go to buy hair products, not to department stores.
“Some companies have done $80 million on an infomercial alone,” he continued, confirming that he would like the Kingsley line to eventually approach that volume, including sales from both TV and traditional retail outlets.