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For Alterna, lately there’s no such thing as a bad hair day.
This story first appeared in the April 13, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
After sales gained 54 percent in fiscal 2011, Alterna — positioned as a natural but high-performance professional line — is poised to generate between $35 million and $55 million by end of fiscal 2012, according to industry sources.
Alterna hopes to continue its momentum this year with a focus on product innovation, domestic and global expansion and a direct-to-consumer model to increase brand awareness.
“Our main driver of growth is staying nimble and ahead of the curve in innovation, which we’ve become known for, and the expansion of organic business,” said company president Joan Malloy, who took the helm in August 2009. Since then the Los Angeles-based brand, owned since 2005 by TSG Consumer Partners, has been focused on growth through innovation, rather than promotion, which had been the company’s previous model.
Industry sources estimated new products contributed to 25 percent of sales in 2011.
Last year’s upswing was also bolstered by introductions like Alterna’s Bamboo Line, launched at the end of 2010 into Sephora stores, which marked the brand’s first entry into the retailer’s doors. Bamboo now has six sublines, including Bamboo Shine, Bamboo Volume, Bamboo UV+, Bamboo Style, Bamboo Men and Bamboo Smooth, which is currently Alterna’s best-selling collection the U.S.
Malloy said last year “represented unprecedented innovation with the introduction of new Bamboo collections and key Caviar sku’s. Going forward, it’s about increasing the penetration in our existing channels and continuing to expand professional and international distribution.”
In February, Alterna appeared on QVC, which has some 90 million viewers, and will return to its airwaves throughout the year. Upcoming shows include an eight-minute segment on Saturday and one-hour shows this month and in September. Alterna has also named its first education expert, beauty strategist Alberti Popaj, to appear on air and at in-store events.
On the international front, Alterna, which is currently available in 45 countries, will roll out to Sephora Mexico, Brazil, Latin America and Southeast Asia in the coming months. It also plans to double its salon presence, with plans to increase its door count to 4,500 this year from its current count of 2,500, by expanding into markets such as China, South America, Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia.
The brand also is entering new product categories. In January, it introduced 1 Night Highlights, a mineral-based, temporary color mousse for $29, which allows users to test out highlights and wash them out that same day. It’s currently available in three shades — caramel, red and blonde — and more colors will be added seasonally.
This month, Alterna will launch Caviar Clinical, its first entry into the hair-growing category. It is formulated with ingredients like red clover extract, nettle root and saw palmetto, and is expected to help drive growth in the antiaging hair segment by 25 percent. The line includes a detoxifying shampoo, $32, root and scalp stimulator, $36, and weekly boosting treatments, $50, for six weekly doses. For this launch, Alterna also tapped its first spokesperson, Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist and American Academy of Dermatology spokeswoman, and conducted clinical studies.
“Caviar clinical addresses the thickening of every strand of hair and it moisturizes the follicle,” said Jaliman, who added that testing revealed that eight out of 10 people saw increased strand thickness after six weeks. “Every week, I see patients suffering from hair loss, seeking proven effective solutions to this very distressing problem.”
Alterna’s third key 2012 launch is 48 Hour Sustainable Volume Spray, touted as a first-of-its-kind volume enhancer, promising two full days of 105 percent increased hair diameter and thickness. “This is the strongest volume claim on the market,” said a spokeswoman, who added that the lightweight formula works even on the finest of hair types. Launching later this month, the formula, $24, contains phytonutrient-rich, protein-binding, organic maca root, said to be “natural Viagra,” and hair-strengthening organic bamboo extract, the hero ingredient of the Bamboo range.