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Bumble and bumble continues to pioneer how a salon brand can enter the retail arena while maintaining — and even driving — business to its 2,400 U.S. network salons.
This May, Bumble is launching its first print advertising campaign, which is intended to make 20 million impressions in its two-month commitment, to grow the brand’s awareness, which is admittedly low. The move follows Bumble’s announcement this week that its products are expanding from 10 Sephora stores — where they were tested in key markets for six months — to all Sephora stores in North America, excluding Sephora’s store-in-stores in J.C. Penney.
This story first appeared in the April 8, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Because it’s a key anchor brand to Sephora’s hair section, the balance of about 250 Sephora stores will dedicate a similar amount of space to Bumble as those that tested it, including fully Bumble-branded merchandising, customized fixtures and, in select locations, touch screens. One aspect of the retail partnership that will change — which Bumble learned from the test — is that, going forward, Bumble will hold biannual national salon client referral events, where the consumer who purchases a full-size product will get a styling card entitling her to a free 30-minute consultation and blow-dry or style at a participating network salon. This replaces a promotion that gave consumers discounts on haircuts at Bumble network salons. It turns out consumers often felt they were “cheating” on their usual stylist, making them hesitant to try someone new.
The ads, which will appear in May and June editions of Vanity Fair, Allure, Nylon and New York magazine, among other titles, come in two versions. One ad shows a model close up with a perfectly undone, textured hairstyle; the other focuses on the relationship between a hairstylist and model — behind the scenes. Both feature Bumble texture hair(un)dressing creme, a hair styler designed to create the perfect rolled-out-of-bed, textured look, that launched in March and has since become Bumble’s number-three best-selling sku, behind the venerable Thickening Spray and Sumotech products. Sales of Texture in March, said Bumble and bumble president Peter Lichtenthal, were 20 percent ahead of plan.
The ads were designed to tell a story in fashion, styling and products — all components of Bumble’s DNA.
“Overall, brand awareness is actively low, but once there is brand awareness, loyalty is extremely high.…We are a pro brand finding new ways to draw new business and [to drive business] to our core [salon] channel,” said Lichtenthal.
He stressed that the ad campaign is incremental support to the brand, and is likely to emerge again in the fall. He said while Bumble’s launch campaign is a spread, single-page ads are possible, too.
Bumble also has a digital ad campaign in the works, to make an additional 10 million impressions. Details are still being hammered out.
Bumble, which is sold in the top 1 percent of salons, is also sold in Bloomingdale’s 59th Street, Space NK, Colette and Mecca. Bumble is exploring ways to expand distribution with Bloomingdale’s, Lichtenthal said, but could not add details. The ads also appear at a time when the salon industry needs a push to return to levels it had prior to the recession. Sales in 2010 for the overall professional industry has been reported as up 2 percent over 2009.