ATLANTA — Shampoo makers are aiming to target more than blondes in 2004. More than Caucasians, too. They’re even looking beyond women, for that matter. In an effort to increase the hair care category in an environment that’s experiencing only brand trading, marketers are digging deep to tap the untapped consumer, and are discovering that brunettes, Hispanics and men could be the key to success for 2004.

Next year’s newest and most innovative hair care products were discussed among hundreds of retail and manufacturer attendees during this year’s ECRM hair care conference in Atlanta, held Oct. 27-Oct. 29.

One of the most talked about launches at the show comes from John Frieda with Brilliant Brunette, a 13-item hair care and styling line that looks to complement the company’s 1998 hair care success, Sheer Blonde.

“We had always wanted to go after brunettes, it was always a live discussion,” said Brigitte King, assistant vice president of marketing. But learning why brunette hair is different, and then addressing the issues with the relevant technology, needed to be researched and investigated before a line could be launched.

“To be true to the John Frieda philosophy we knew we had to understand what is different about brown hair and what it needs prescriptively. Frizz Ease [another Frieda success] and Sheer Blonde were both founded that way,” King said.

Kao, John Frieda’s parent as of August 2002, is really the company that brings the special technology to the new line. Japan-based Kao is one of the country’s largest beauty companies and undoubtedly has an insight into dark hair needs. Subsequently, the technology used in Brilliant Brunette reaches beyond the outside layer of hair into the cortex to deliver malic acid, which comes from apples, along with Kao’s “patented penetration enhancers,” tobring out the tonalities, highlights and lowlights that make brown hair unique.

But King said the multidimensional shine technology used in Brilliant Brunette is not the line’s only innovation. “What stands us apart is that there are a lot of high-end lines that have addressed brown hair, but they are color depositing lines that work with dyes to bring out color and richness. We do that with non-color depositing technology.”In addition, formulas have been designed for various levels of brown hair. Amber to Maple variants are designed for lighter brunettes, and contain tea leaf to help strengthen hair and make it luminescent. Chestnut to espresso formulas, which are meant for darker brunettes, use cocoa bean extract. Shampoos are available in Shine Release, Shine Release Moisturizing and Shine Release Volumizing formulas. Light Reflecting conditioner has crushed pearls to bring out hair’s luster.

Since John Friedabelieves in regimens for consumers, stylers round out the brand. There’s Shine Shock, which is considered the star product of the styling line,a leave-on glosser to be used after shampooing. There’s also Satin Shine, a finishing cream; Simply Sleek, a straightening balm; Model Control, a firm hold gel, and Hold True, a long-lasting finishing spray. Products begin shipping to stores in January and will retail for $6.50 for shampoo and conditioners, and $5.50 for styling products.

King would not comment on the line’s estimated sales, but sources at ECRM estimated that Brilliant Brunette could generate 2 1/2 times the sales Sheer Blonde generated its first year on shelves, or $50 million. ECRM sources added that the company will likely support Brilliant Brunette with nearly $20 million in advertising.

“There is a much larger demographic that can relate to this,” King said, noting that 60 percent of women are brunettes, compared with 20 percent who are blonde.

But there are consumers aside from brunettes targeted by attendees of ECRM.

Men, it seems, are the next group for the taking.

No fewer than three men’s lines were introduced at the show, including one by L’Oréal under its Vive brand.

Continental Consumer Products, the makers of Salon Grafix, is launching an eight-item men’s hair care line in February under the M Professional brand. (The hair care line has no relation to the M Professional cosmetics brand that was phased out of the mass market several years ago.) M Professional, which includes a volumizing shampoo and conditioner, a 2-in-1, control hair spray, styling cream, pomade, light hold gel and firm hold gel, will be line priced at $5.99 and supported with TV and print advertisements. TV spots feature TV game show host Chuck Woolery. M Professional will be merchandised in the general hair care set of drugstores, since “women make most of the household purchases,” said Scott Petchul, vice president of the company. “Men only visit [the men’s grooming section] every three months,” he added.Idelle Labs, a newly formed company by Helen of Troy, is out to capture the men’s market, too. Perry Sansone, vice president of sales, said the company is capitalizing on the brand equity of Vitalis, a decades-old hair treatment brand, by expanding it into an eight-item hair care line. Three shampoos, two conditioners, a pump hair spray, an aerosol hair spray and a gel mousse begin shipping to retailers Feb. 1. Each will retail for $3.99.

Hispanics are also being recognized as untapped beauty consumers. JossClaude, the largest salon chain in Latin America with approximately 40 stores, is launchinga hair care line called Formula Latina. The line will consist of 12 shampoos, conditioners, styling and finishing products. Labels will have Spanish and English copy, and the brand will be supported by a $3.5 million ad campaign, including radio spots in 10 U.S. cities. The JossClaude business was founded 27 years ago by Frenchmen Joss Lfergan and Claude Joanin, who fell in love with Mexico City while vacationing.

Reviews are mixed on whether brunettes, Hispanics and men will help boost the category’s 1.29 percent dip, but the $5 billion hair category doesn’t have much to lose. As one ECRM attendee said, “These segments are all untapped and present an opportunity.” But another cocked his head in doubt, describing the Hispanic and men’s market “as big as a minute.”

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