Critical Mass: Lisa Yarnell Enters the Hair Care Arena

As chief executive officer of Continental Consumer Products, she wants to boost daily usage of hair spray and dry shampoos with a line called Play It Big.

Playing It Big by Salon Grafix.

NEW YORK — Lisa Yarnell isn’t known for doing things small. 

This story first appeared in the November 22, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

She built Jane Cosmetics into a $50 million brand at one point after buying it from the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. Prior to that, she put Tinkerbell children’s play makeup on the map, and she helped to execute the launch of Free Hold Mousse into the U.S. for L’Oréal. Now she’s got big plans for the hairstyling category.

As chief executive officer of Continental Consumer Products — best known for its Salon Grafix premium hair-care line — Yarnell wants to boost daily usage of hair spray and dry shampoos with a line called Play It Big.

Salon and salon-inspired shampoos and conditioners have dominated the mass market hair-care landscape for eight years. But little has been done to duplicate that success in styling products.

“We are giving retailers an opportunity to fill a gap in styling between mass and salon,” said Yarnell. She also hopes to boost daily usage and increase category purchases by emphasizing that the Keratin Protein Complex infused in the hair sprays is designed to strengthen hair. Some women are reticent to use hair spray daily for fear of damaging hair.

An executive with a major beauty retailer agreed Play It Big could ratchet up styling sales. “Play It Big’s daily regimen positioning could potentially increase the way a woman looks at using hair spray and boost the incidence of the whole category,” she said.

Packaged in a bold red can and targeted to a different consumer than the Salon Grafix classic shopper, Play It Big zeros in on growing demands for volumizing products.

Arnisha Hallett-Jones, vice president of marketing for Continental, said, “The volumizing segment is where the action is — showing 7 percent growth year-over-year in the overall flat hair spray category.”

Continental has a strong hair pedigree. Its Salon Grafix brand is the number-two premium hair spray in sales across all outlets, according to IRI, with sales exceeding $20 million a year, topping major brands such as L’Oréal, Got2B, Organix and Fat Hair in the premium hair spray segment.

There are three Play It Big hair sprays: Play It Big Touchable Hair Spray, Shaping Hair Spray and Firmer Hair Spray. Hitting shelves in January, there are full-size 10-oz. cans as well as three 2-oz. travel sizes.
Yarnell points to a micro-mist diffuser on the full-size cans that evenly sprays hair, duplicating the salon experience.

Play It Big is also launching four products in the dry shampoo category, now a $40 million segment, which gained 27 percent in sales last year. As a point of comparison, traditional shampoo gained only 3 percent, according to IRI. The Play It Big Dry Shampoo with a hint of color is available in brown, blond and black shades and also a clear formula.

Prices for Play It Big range from $8 to $13 and products are relaunching at major retailers including Ulta, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Kroger, CVS, Meijer and in select Target stores.

Support behind Play It Big includes a television, digital and social media plan focused around a campaign encouraging daily use called “A Week In the Life.” The products will be shown in typical daily activities ranging from workout to going out. There will also be a sweepstakes consumers can enter by sending in selfies of big moments that require hair spray, such as weddings and proms. “We have a true 360-degree plan also incorporating in-store displays such as floor stands and side wings, [temporary price reduction] and instant redeemable coupons to ensure the success of an exciting launch,” said Richard Cocco, newly appointed vice president of sales for Continental.

“We really want to boost usage of hair sprays sooner than the 60-day current category average,” Yarnell said, noting the Salon Grafix average repurchasing rate already runs 15 percent ahead of the category due to the very loyal customer base.