By  on August 13, 2010

Joan Malloy, who became Alterna’s president last August, argues that for years the Los Angeles-based professional hair care brand didn’t broadcast how advanced it was — a problem she is out to rectify with a raft of new initiatives.

“They were very ahead of the curve on ingredient stories, but they didn’t name it and claim it,” she said. “They were the first to apparently coin the phrase, ‘The Science of Skincare for Hair.’ Also, since the late Nineties, they were doing paraben-free, sulfate-free and phthalate-free when no one was even talking about [that] in a luxury formula.”

Malloy’s early efforts to steer the Alterna ship in the right direction hinge on the September launch of Bamboo, the brand’s first full new line since 2000.

Bamboo’s first collection is Smooth, pairing bamboo extract with kendi oil, which is rich in essential fatty acids. Following Smooth, Bamboo will expand to include a Volume collection that adds maca root extract for voluminous hair, and a Shine collection that adds Indian gooseberry for luster.

Of the various shampoos, conditioners and styling items in Smooth, Malloy singled out Kendi Pure Treatment Oil and Kendi Dry Oil Mist as the stars of the collection, the latter of which she said brings the dry oil concept that is a body care staple into hair care.

Bamboo fills a segment Malloy calls “everyday luxury” she thought Alterna was missing. Priced at $18 to $24, the brand is designed to capture 25- to 45-year-old consumers often unable to afford Alterna’s antiaging Caviar line that runs up to $30. Bamboo products will eventually replace Life, an Alterna line that married eastern ingredients with modern technologies.

With Bamboo securing the affordability and sustainability pillars at Alterna, Malloy envisions Caviar as the brand’s principal driver of innovation. Caviar launches speak to that objective, including $35 Overnight Hair Rescue to combat environmental aging, and $20 talc-free Anti-Aging Dry Shampoo to soak up oil.

Malloy’s mission is to expand Alterna’s distribution from 2,000 salons in the U.S. and is providing a more inexpensive back-bar program to lure salons. Worldwide, the brand is in about 43 countries, excluding China and South America, both viewed as massive opportunities.

Outside of salons, Alterna recently made its debut on QVC, and Caviar products hit sephora.com on Tuesday, a potential springboard for the brand to enter Sephora doors. Priya Venkatesh, Sephora’s vice president and divisional merchandise manager for skin care and hair care, said, “Alterna offers innovative, efficacious and sulfate-free product with a strong salon credibility that will definitely appeal to our clients.”

Also, Malloy has tapped Mary Burns as vice president of marketing, Jennifer Gifford as creative director and Tamara Brown as vice president of global sales.

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