By  on May 25, 2007

Come this summer, Aveda hopes men will offer a significant boost to the company's bottom line.

With its new men's hair care brand, coming in July, the company believes that it has identified a market opportunity that could triple the amount of men using its hair care products and services, said Dominique Conseil, president of Aveda.

"This is not just a product launch," said Conseil. "It's a major initiative which we feel will be a significant growth opportunity for us. We are betting that we can increase sharply the number of men coming to the salon — which would not only involve sales of our products, but additional service revenues for the salons which carry our products."

Added Heidi Norman, executive director of marketing, styling and men's products for Aveda: "The men's market presents a very big business opportunity for Aveda. Currently, men represent only 10 percent of our current retail sales and services — and we believe we can increase share to 30 percent relatively quickly. We believe men's products and services could grow to a $230 million opportunity for Aveda."

Why the current dearth of men in salons? "There's a perception that our brand is genderless, but we've found that, currently, more women purchase it than men," said Conseil. "We wanted to address that imbalance with a line designed specifically for men. This isn't just different packaging; we have created a different subbrand with its own logo. Men are all about performance — they are very left-brained in their thinking. They can also be our most loyal customers."

As well, Aveda has addressed the physiological differences between men's and women's bodies in creating the line. "For instance, men's scalps are thicker than women's, and men's produce twice as much oil," said Norman. "This can make men more prone to sensitivity, dryness, itchiness, irritation, redness and other unpleasant scalp conditions."

"Our research and development team worked with clinical aromaologist Pierre Franchomme to create botanical blends for these products which also offered active ingredient benefits," said Suzanne Dawson, vice president of global marketing for Aveda, noting that ingredients include boswellia, licorice root, sage extract and plai and tamanu oils, all of which are sustainably sourced. "These blends address key male concerns, such as sensitivity and dryness."To help create the line, Conseil called in Kurt Kueffner — now Aveda's director of men's market development and education — who was one of the talents behind seminal men's brand American Crew.

The seven-stockkeeping-unit line includes Pure-formance Shampoo, $18 for 300 ml.; Pure-formance Conditioner, $18 for 300 ml.; Pure-formance Composition, $25 for 50 ml.; Pure-formance Grooming Cream, $20 for 125 ml.; Pure-formance Grooming Clay, $22 for 75 ml.; Pure-formance Liquid Pomade, $22 for 200 ml., and Pure-formance Pomade, $20 for 75 ml. They are all scented with a citrus, spearmint, lavender and vetiver aroma designed to work in tandem with the products' phyto-active blend.

One problem facing all salons and salon brands in general is the difficulty in motivating the staff to retail products to their clients. Aveda has always maintained that it is more successful than other brands, and the company is taking no chances with this venture. To aid sales associates and stylists in their selling efforts, Aveda has created a business manual that outlines the male mind-set and men's shopping habits. "We want our staff to understand men's expectations and their understanding of products to boost business," said Kueffner. "Subtlety is lost on men, but they're not stupid. Men want to be convinced, and we're out to convince them."

Antoinette Beenders, global creative director, noted that national print advertising, shot by Carl Bengtsson, will begin running in trade publications in July and in consumer magazines in February 2008.

"We took a wood theme through the campaign and on outer packaging, for a natural, fresh approach," said Beenders. The visual will also be used in salons, spas and Aveda stores, along with a wood display unit that showcases the new collection. "We're trying to create an environment which will make men comfortable shopping," added Norman. "For instance, each of the products is displayed with a simple explanation, which succinctly sums up what the product will do for the user, so they can easily navigate through the shelves."

While none of the executives would discuss projected first-year sales, industry sources estimated that the Aveda Men line could generate between $38 million and $42 million in first-year retail sales in the U.S. It will be available in about 3,700 doors, including Aveda salons, spas and stores, and online at aveda.com.In other news, Aveda gathered together leaders from around the world at the United Nations on Wednesday, hosting its third annual forum on the future of indigenous entrepreneurship and the challenges of economic development. The company partnered with the United Nations Development Program, Equator Initiative, Tribal Link Foundation, the Global Environmental Facility Small Grants Programme and the World Intellectual Property Organization.

"The Indigenous Entre­preneurship: Opportunities and Challenges" panel discussed the broad range of issues facing indigenous entrepreneurs and the partnerships they form with donors, lending institutions, business development agencies and private corporations. Two of the five panelists were from the Nyoongar Aboriginal people of Australia and the Yawanawa tribe of the Brazilian Amazon rain forest, indigenous communities that Aveda has worked with.

"For us, it's about pursuing what's good for their community," said Conseil. "This gives them a long-term approach and makes them more optimistic about the different ways of doing business. It's about community-based initiatives that bring everyone together and sharing success stories that others can learn from."

Joaquim Tashka Yawanawa, chief of the Yawanawa indigenous people, spoke about the impact Aveda's partnership has had on his own community. "Indigenous people are afraid of partnering with big businesses because they're worried of losing their traditions, but we proved them wrong," said Yawanawa. "For us, it strengthened our culture and opened new possibilities. This is a company that pays attention to people and nature, and not just money."

Fifteen years ago, Aveda partnered with the Yawanawa for a red pigmented color called "annatto" from the urukum plant that the tribal people used to paint their bodies. Aveda first used the pigment in lipsticks, but started using it to protect the skin from the sun after realizing its use as a powerful antioxidant, said Conseil.

According to Yawanawa, his people's culture had been on a steep decline prior to Aveda's involvement. But the company helped create a business model for the community, providing everything from education to advanced mapping technology. Aveda will have nine partnerships with indigenous communities around the world, including the latest partnership with Nepal that will be formulated by yearend.

— With contributions from Michelle Edgar

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