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After several successful U.S. launches of European skin- and hair-care lines in 2012, Unilever is introducing a new British hair-care brand to American shores via Target.
Come Aug. 18, Toni & Guy Hair Meet Wardrobe, whose brand name has been licensed by Unilever since 2009, will enter all 1,788 Target stores. After a four-month Target exclusive, it will roll out to other drugstore, mass and grocery retailers.
“Our beauty guests are very engaged in the hair-care category and they are using products like styling and treatment items to get the look they want at an affordable price,” said Christina Hennington, vice president of merchandising for beauty and personal care at Target Corp. “It’s not just about the product on shelf, it’s about connecting the dots between a look and the solution [the consumer] needs to create that look.”
According to Hennington, the move adds to the retailer’s growing portfolio of niche salon brands like Shea Moisture, Miss Jessie’s, Mixed Chicks and Camille Rose, which have been added to Target’s hair-care aisles over the past few years. “We continue to work with strategic partners like Unilever to offer guests a differentiated assortment that aligns with our guests’ preferences,” she said. “One way we build loyalty with our guests is by offering them exclusive access to product they’ll love…[and] by offering access to differentiated salon products, [some] previously only available in Europe, at [a value].”
For Unilever, which owns top-selling mass hair brands like Suave, Clear, Dove Hair, Nexxus and TRESemmé, the U.S. launch is meant to broaden the portfolio and increase its offerings for its target consumer. “This is largely uncharted territory for the hair category, which makes for incremental play to our overall hair portfolio, driving category growth,” said Dean Aragon, vice president of global hair care for Unilever, adding that the brand’s U.K. sales increased 44 percent in the first quarter of 2013 compared with the prior-year period. “Unilever is currently number one in the daily hair category with a robust portfolio. Currently no hair brand intrinsically speaks to women through the lens of fashion, styling and statement looks for self-expression.”
Originally introduced in the U.K. by Unilever in 2011, Toni & Guy Hair Meet Wardrobe is a 32-piece range, priced from $5 for accessories to $39.99 for a hair tool. Shampoos, conditioners, stylers and treatments range from between $12.99 and $16.99, and include sublines such as Prep, Cleanse & Nourish, Classic, Casual, Creative and Glamour. The collection includes shampoos and conditioners for various hair types. Stylers like Shine Gloss Serum, Style Spray Wax and Volume Plumping Whip are designed to facilitate personal expression. Additionally, Toni & Guy hair accessories and styling tools, manufactured by Helen of Troy, which will only be sold in the U.S., will follow the product launch on Sept. 8 in Target stores.
Although neither Unilever nor Target would comment on financials, industry sources believe the lineup could generate between $10 million and $15 million in its first year at retail.
According to a spokesperson for Unilever hair care, bringing international brands to the U.S. is a strategic move for the beauty company.
She said Clear is a great example of a global brand popular in Asia that successfully entered the U.S., and Simple, a “massive success in the U.K.” has also moved easily into the U.S. market. Toni & Guy, which is available in 19 countries including the U.S., will next roll out to India, Norway and Finland later in the year. Toni & Guy Hair Meet Wardrobe will join Nexxus and Tigi as Unilever’s “in-salon/professional business at a superpremium tier.”
The fashion-inspired brand has collaborated with partner designers in London including Matthew Williamson, Vivienne Westwood Red Label, Lulu Kennedy’s Fashion East and others to help identify runway trends, which are then interpreted for consumers.
The brand works also with a group of British “industry insiders,” including global hair ambassador Mark Hampton, fashion blogger Susie Bubble and stylist Anna Trevelyan, using these collaborations to update product formulations. “Like our U.S. Target, [our consumer] loves self-expression and is thirsty for new inspiration,” said Aragon. “She knows that to complete the statement of her overall sense of style, both hair and clothes need to work together, hence, ‘hair meet wardrobe.’”
To generate awareness for the brand, plans involve print advertisements and utilizing social and digital platforms. Unilever will also offer styling tutorials to achieve a variety of looks, as well as in-store visuals, displays and custom end caps.
“We anticipate that Toni & Guy will contribute to category development by introducing styling products via style collections, a differentiated way into an underpenetrated segment,” said Aragon, adding that only 17 percent of products in the category fall under styling. “We anticipate trade-up from other mass brands, as we are seeing a trend of ‘premium-ization’ and ‘salon-ization’ at mass. We think we’ll also attract some women who have traditionally favored professional products purchased in salon.”