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Keratin protein and Brazilian blow-dry treatments, those that range in the $400 arena, are hitting salons and the mass market for less than $100, finally allowing the everywoman to experience what her more wealthy counterpart has enjoyed for years: frizz-free, shiny hair.
If there’s one thing the recession has changed forever, it’s the way a consumer shops. And that includes how she shops for beauty, as experts say she is keenly focused on finding the best product for a good value, which doesn’t mean she’s going to settle — or splurge.
This story first appeared in the August 20, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
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“It is the complete package for the prestige shopper. It has to offer her a name, innovation and also the right price. And the price being right under that [superpremium] trigger, that makes them feel they have value,” said Karen Grant, vice president and global beauty industry analyst at The NPD Group, who noted that entry-level prices have remained flat and the premium price tier is actually seeing growth, such as in fragrance and skin care. “Premium is back up at double-digit growth,” Grant said, especially in gift sets, “where she can see she is getting her value.”
That said, for the premium salon goer, fall presents at least two new frizz-fighting treatments, one from the makers of the wildly successful Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy, and another from John Paul Mitchell Systems, which is angling on becoming better known as a treatment company. Both said their offerings will pump up the salon industry.
“This will be very good for the industry and very, very, very good for salons,” said John Paul DeJoria, co-founder and chief executive officer of the salon company. He expects add-on sales to be brisk. Stephanie Kocielski, artistic director for Paul Mitchell, said her average sales ticket was boosted almost 20 percent the day the firm’s Awapuhi Wild Ginger treatment launched in her San Diego-based salon, due in large part to clients recommending the service to friends. Awapuhi Wild Ginger is a two-step in-salon repair treatment using Keratriplex, a proprietary keratin protein. The 15-minute treatment, costing between $25 and $75 (depending on the salon) is designed to improve shine, reduce hair breakage and prevent color from fading, and is designed to last from four to six weeks.
Awapuhi also has a retail component that looks to rival at-home keratin products, in formula and price point. Items such as the Keratriplex-infused Keratin Cream Rinse and Keratin Intensive Complex, as well as a shampoo, a treatment oil, a texture spray and a finishing spray, will range in price from $17.95 to $24.95.
The formulas must be winning over influentials as the line is slated to be used and sold at Saks Fifth Avenue’s 17 salons nationwide, as well as at the salon in Neiman Marcus in Dallas, beginning in September.
The timing is right for firms such as JPMS to offer more value-priced treatments, suggests data by WSL Strategic Retail, as women are back in stores looking for good buys. The latest research from WSL reports that less than 12 percent of shoppers think prices are down, across a mix of 19 tracked categories. Forty to 50 percent think prices are up on health and beauty categories like cosmetics, skin care and over-the-counter medication. The report, called “How America Shops: The Pulse of Shopping Life,” added that 59 percent of shoppers said they would stock up on a certain item if they saw it was on sale. A year ago, according to the research, shoppers resisted stocking up even on sale items and attempted to pay off bills or save more. In a nutshell, the Pulse survey shows that now more than ever is a good time to let shoppers know when prices are down.
Also targeting that value-seeker shopper in September is Express Blow Out, the less aggressive sister to Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy, the $350 service designed to last about three to four months. Express costs about $100, and lasts, according to its founders, from four to six weeks. It’s being pitched as the answer to the woman who simply couldn’t spend $350 for a treatment.
“We needed a faster service for the salons that can be performed in a lunch hour. The original needs a two- to three-hour window. We needed another service that was quicker and had a lower price point,” said Lindsay Solomon, vice president of marketing for the firm, founded by hairstylist and salon owner Peter Coppola. “The Express needs less product and utilizes a different silicone so it costs less for the salon, so they can charge less.”
The kicker, said Lisa Lauria, director of marketing for Keratin Complex, is that hair can be washed as soon as eight hours after the treatment is applied, unlike the original, which requires a three-day wait period before washing.
Dror Kraft, a stylist at Pierre Michel Salon, has tested Express and said he finds it to be a great add-on for clients who are looking to stretch out their Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy. The chance to lure new customers, he added, is a huge opportunity for stylists.
“For someone who has had nothing [before] but wants to take the edge off [her frizz], it works really nice. I think it shows people a lower price range for what their hair could possibly look like [with the more expensive treatment.] It won’t have the same effect, but the fact that it doesn’t last that long will make [the more expensive treatment] look more enticing,” said Kraft, who is a certified Brazilian Blowout specialist, adding that “no one wants to spend $350 all the time.”
Several salon retail lines are addressing the lower-priced keratin craze, too, all at accessible prices. There’s Rusk, with its Deepshine Smooth Keratin Care line, a range of sodium chloride-free, color-safe formulas for chemically and color-treated hair. Formulated with natural keratin, the line includes a Smoothing Shampoo, a Smoothing Conditioner and a Deep-Penetrating Treatment. Items sell for $15 apiece. And, from blow-dry experts Blow, the New York Blow Dry Bar, comes Ready Set Blow, an express blow-dry lotion that uses heat-conducting polymers to shape styles and accelerate blow-dry time. Ready Set Blow is available for $21 in its two Manhattan flagships and Ulta stores nationwide.
And the mass market’s trendsetters are also jumping on the keratin and smooth blow-dry look, including Garnier Fructis and Sally Hershberger. In July, Garnier Fructis launched Sleek & Shine Blow Dry Perfector, a two-step smoothing kit designed to last up to seven shampoos. The system, which takes about 25 minutes to complete, costs $11.99. Hershberger marks the first-to-mass supplier with a keratin item. Super Keratin Spray, a light, leave-in remedy designed for a soft, smooth, frizz-free look, will sell for $12.50 in Ulta and select Duane Reade and Ricky’s NYC locations, and is meant to be sprayed on dry or damp hair, combed through from root to tip, and then styled.