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L’Oréal Launching Advanced Haircare Line

Beauty brand is adding impetus to a growing momentum toward more sophisticated, technology-driven hair care.

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Call it the newest bundling plan.

As hair care continues to take its cue from skin care, manufacturers are pushing the notion that more is needed than just shampoo and conditioner. L’Oréal Paris is upping the game substantially with its aptly named new line, Advanced Haircare, designed to change how women care for their hair each day.

“Right now, U.S. women believe that only skin care warrants an ongoing regimen,” said L’Oréal Paris USA president Karen Fondu. “They see hair as a quick fix when really, it deserves and needs the same multistep approach as skin care to be at its best.”

Through the product introduction, one of L’Oréal’s main goals is shifting consumers’ mind-sets from “cleanse and condition” to “cleanse, condition and care,” an idea that arose, in part, from monitoring women’s hair-care behaviors in international markets.

“Despite American women’s love for hot tools and chemical treatments, they still haven’t quite come to realize the significant impact that treatments can make,” said Fondu, citing internal research that revealed the vast majority of Brazilian and Japanese women treat their hair through multistep routines. “Treatment usage is 77 percent penetration in Brazil and nearly seven out of 10 women in Japan use treatments,” she added. According to the brand, only 10 percent of American mass hair-care sales come from treatments. In terms of population, that translates into roughly 35 percent of U.S. women being engaged in the category. “We want to expand penetration and usage in the biggest category in the mass market,” said Fondu.

Comprised of five sublines: Total Repair 5, Smooth Intense, Power Moisture, Color Vibrancy and Triple Resist, Advanced Haircare includes a shampoo and conditioner within each, paired with one or more complementary treatments. At the heart of the Advanced Haircare collection is a proprietary technology, called Arginine-K Complex, said to promote healthy hair growth.

“Arginine reinforces the hair fiber,” said Michel Fahmy, vice president of marketing for L’Oréal Paris Hair Care. “It is like an amino acid, it fills in what needs to be filled in for fullness and health. [It] is the fourth-largest component of keratin in the hair and is one of its basic building blocks.” Each module, or system of products, within the collection includes Arginine-K Complex, paired with a need-specific customized active to address the five most common hair issues for American women.

Although executives would not break out numbers, industry sources estimate that Advanced Haircare, which will begin its rollout to 35,000 doors in mid-December, could generate $100 million in first-year retail sales in the U.S. Full distribution is planned for early January.

“The mass hair category has been fairly banal,” said Fondu, who cited the 2003 introduction of Garnier Fructis and the 2009 entry, the sulfate-free Ever line, as two past game changers in mass hair care. She was quick to point out the silver lining for her brand. “This is an opportunity to shift the paradigm and educate women on the benefits of treatment. It’s about changing consumer behavior.”

Total Repair 5, the hero module of the collection, is designed to address split ends, weakness, roughness, dullness and dehydration, with the help of cuticle-reinforcing ceramide. The treatments within Total Repair 5 include a Damage-Erasing Balm and a leave-in Multi-Restorative Dry Oil. “When the shampoo and Balm are used together women can reverse up to one year’s worth of hair’s surface damage,” said Fahmy.

Smooth Intense, the next module, features hair-smoothing oleo-keratin as its complementary ingredient. Its corresponding treatments are the Frizz Taming Serum, designed to control flyaways for 72 hours, and Xtreme Straight Crème.

Power Moisture, another sub-line, features the water-attracting polymer, hyaluronic, and is designed to increase hair’s hydration levels, with the help of a rinse-out gel-like conditioning mask called the Rush Mask.

Color Vibrancy, the range meant to minimize UV oxidation and maintain hair color by protecting hair fibers, features a Dual Protect Spray, which consumers can shake to activate.

Triple Resist, the brand’s fifth module, aims to reduce hair breakage with a concentrated form of Arginine-K complex. Triple Resist’s coinciding leave-in Ultimate Strength Solution is said to target and reinforce weak points in hair.

“Women looking for the right solution will have an entire regimen and with a system in place comes more results as far as satisfaction,” said Fahmy. “It’s not just lather and rinse. It’s about treatment.” The shampoos and conditioners in the line come in two sizes, 12.6 oz. and 25.4 oz., and will cost $4.99 and $7.49, respectively. Each treatment will retail for $6.99.

In development for five years, Advanced Haircare resulted from the insights of six global research labs. Products were tested on 5,000 U.S. women, utilizing “the very best” among its large roster of scientists. There are 23 patents across the line, including eight unique ingredient patents. In addition, 40 fragrances were tested before the research and development team settled on the fruity-floral scent, used in each product.

“It’s been a real adventure [and] journey over the last five years,” said Fondu. “The level of innovation we are bringing to the mass hair-care segment is a first. We are helping to build the category. We will make a difference in the minds of consumers.”

In order to educate women about the line’s benefits, brand executives said there will be a comprehensive educational push, through video and Web content on the brand Web site and social channels as well as in-store displays. “The treatments come in user-friendly forms and will be displayed alongside shampoos and conditioners so selecting a personalized regimen has never been easier,” added Fondu.

L’Oréal’s newly appointed brand ambassador, Lea Michele, will serve as the face of the Total Repair 5 Module, while the remaining four will be fronted by still-undetermined brand representatives. “The scale of the launch is evident,” said Fondu. “This is a very big, very significant launch for L’Oréal Paris. We have very high expectations.”

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