By  on February 15, 2008

NEW YORK — Lotta Luv is banking on a lotta girls loving Hannah Montana.

Lotta Luv, known primarily for its licensed candy lip and body products, is branching into new territory with a shampoo and conditioner bearing the image of the current high priestess of pop.

The 8-oz. shampoo, conditioner and glitter spritz spray will ship this summer in time for back-to-school to major mass market accounts. Retailing for $6, the shampoos and conditioners are aimed at a target audience currently underserved by current choices, according to Steph Fogelson, president and chief executive officer of Lotta Luv. "There are very few choices for the teen and tween category in hair care, so we see this as a big opportunity," he said.

The company got a taste of the Hannah craze last year when it launched temporary hair colors, hair braiders and hair color kits also under the Hannah Montana license from Disney. Based on that success, Lotta Luv decided to introduce its first hair care products.

Hair care sales are currently enjoying modest increases. According to AC Nielsen, sales for the 52-week period, ended January 26, totaled $4.43 billion, up 2.4 percent (excluding Wal-Mart).

Category leaders are general market brands such as Herbal Essences, Sunsilk and Fructis. There are few niche market brands in the top-seller list, a point Fogelson hopes to change. Young users have few choices once they outgrow youthful characters or L'Oréal's iconic kids brand, buyers said. Fogelson hopes to see it merchandised near Herbal Essences, a brand some teens are selecting, but may switch once they see the Montana choice. Even a splinter of sales in the huge market can translate into millions of dollars.

Several top chains contacted by WWD did confirm they are interested in Hannah Montana hair care based on the sheer selling power the character — played by Miley Cyrus — commands.

There are currently several beauty items available at mass including fragrances from Boom LLC, wigs from Skaffles, select products from Townley and the hair accessories from Lotta Luv. Since on the TV show the Montana character changes from an average schoolgirl named Miley Stewart with mousey brown hair to a rock star with a fabulous blonde do, hair care products are a logical choice, said Fogelson.So powerful is the character that Wal-Mart has committed to full Hannah Montana boutiques in select stores with beauty products, clothing, bedding, toys and shoes as some of the key licensed goods.

Concerts sold out in minutes and even a feature film in 3-D racked up more than $31.1 million in three days on limited screens. Her cable television show is ranked number one for kids ages 6 to 14, and the show helped her sell millions of CDs and DVDs. Cyrus, the daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus of "Achy Breaky Heart" fame, landed on Billboard's list of the 20 top-selling artists of 2007 in the number 11 spot with $64 million from CD sales and tour receipts. Many feel Cyrus' Montana has supplanted Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Britney Spears, Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan as teen queens. Disney has praised Montana when reporting earnings and several drug chains said Hannah Montana merchandise helped "save Christmas."

That's all music to Fogelson's ears. He thinks the shampoo and conditioner will capture not only young girls, but moms who will approve of its positioning and ingredients. "We also think we'll have a great deal of repeat purchasing because it is a great product," he said. In the fickle hair care business — which is much like the teen stardom machine — getting consumers to stick with you is the key.

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