By  on June 18, 2010

Avon Products Inc. aims to grow its hair care business by great lengths with an emphasis on premium price products.

The direct seller will usher in the strategy this summer with a new patent-pending technology designed to smooth frizz similar to a salon treatment.

The technology is housed in the upcoming product called Advance Techniques Frizz Control Lotus Shield, and its launch will coincide with the restage of the existing Advance Techniques line. Come July, Advance Techniques will consist of 23 products segmented into six regimens, namely Frizz Control (Lotus Shield), Daily Shine, Color Protection, Damage Repair, Volume and Keep Clear.

Avon’s chairman and chief executive officer, Andrea Jung, said the aim is to build Advance Techniques into a masterbrand and develop hair care into a key platform for the $10.4 billion company. At the firm’s annual shareholders’ meeting in May, Jung told attendees that a few days earlier, she had gotten caught in the rain, but her hair had remained unfazed, thanks to Lotus Shield. “So, it works,” Jung told shareholders.

The treatment’s technology is designed to mimic the lotus leaf, which lives in water but has a surface structure that repels droplets of moisture, said Michele Duggan, director of personal care and hair care for Avon global research and development. She added the humidity-fighting technology comprises smoothing silicone and microparticles. After one week of use, Lotus Shield was found — in various testing conditions, including rainforest-level humidity of up to 95 percent — to last for three days, even after hair washing.

Lotus Shield will sell for $12, a premium to Avon’s existing hair care items.

In keeping with Avon’s new regimen approach to hair care, the Lotus Shield line will include a shampoo and conditioner, as well. It is slated to be available in the U.K. later this month, and then in the U.S., China, Brazil and Russia in late July.

Avon’s marketing plan will include print, digital media and television spots, marking the company’s first global TV ads for hair care. As part of its digital efforts, avon.com will feature a Frizz-o-meter application that forecasts the humidity in a consumer’s area, as well as the weather’s effect on her hair.

“This is one of those products that, once you try it, you are hooked,” said Lily DeStefano, Avon’s executive director of North America beauty, adding marketing will focus heavily on sampling. Avon plans to distribute 30 million samples of Lotus Shield, one of the largest beauty sampling efforts in the company’s history. “We are offering every single representative a sample to try,” said DeStefano, referring to Avon’s sales force of more than six million sales representatives.

As part of that effort, beginning July 19, Avon and Cosmopolitan magazine will embark on a multicity tour “to put an end to frizz.” A mobile van outfitted with an Advance Techniques salon, complete with two styling stations for complimentary styling sessions, will make stops in Houston, Miami, Atlanta, Philadelphia and New York. Avon global stylist adviser Tippi Shorter will be on hand at each stop.

Lotus Shield, along with the other five regimens, aim to grow Avon’s hair care business substantially. “Hair care, as a category, is a key area of strategic growth,” said Vanessa Reggiardo, vice president of global color, hair care and creative services. “It’s a big white space for us.”

Citing Euromonitor data, Avon said that, in 2008, the category represented 21 percent of the cosmetics, toiletries and fragrance business for the industry overall, but only 5 percent of Avon’s total sales.

Referencing Avon’s breakthrough introduction of alpha hydroxy acids in Anew skin care in 1992, Reggiardo noted: “What AHAs did for skin care, we are looking to have Lotus Shield do for hair care.”

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