NEW YORK — The country’s best-selling hair care brand isn’t satisfied with being second best to African-American consumers. Focus groups reveal this demographic, who use Pantene quite frequently, is merely satisfied with the formula’s results, not delighted. So in March, Pantene is looking to meet the needs of African Americans with five new products specially formulated for their hair."Don’t try this is at home," advised Theresa Silver to Caucasian beauty editors attending the Pantene Relaxed & Natural press launch Wednesday. Silver is Procter & Gamble’s hair care brand manager who oversees the development of hair care products focusing on the needs of African Americans. Scott Rogers, marketing director for Pantene, explained that Relaxed & Natural’s formulas contain an advanced version of Pantene’s Pro-Vitamin technology and a blend of essential oils and moisturizers, a combination that will leave Caucasian hair slick, limp and overly conditioned.While Rogers and Silver would not comment on first-year sales expectations, industry sources expect Relaxed & Natural to generate between $20 million and $25 million in annual sales within a few years. For 2002, the Pantene brand claimed a 14 percent dollar share of the hair care category.Relaxed & Natural includes Intensive Moisturizing Shampoo, Intensive Moisturizing Conditioner, Conditioning Wrap & Set Lotion, Daily Oil Cream Moisturizer and Intensive Oil Sheen Spray. Products are packaged in a bronze container, signaling to consumers a new Pantene collection. Products will retail between $3.99 and $4.69.Rather than in ethnic sections of stores, Pantene Relaxed & Natural will be merchandised in the general market hair section alongside Pantene’s six customized collections, which include products targeting volume, smoothing, curls, color-treated hair, basic hair and dry hair.Silver said consumers "go a lot of different places" in the drugstore to search out their hair care products, including the general market and ethnic sections, but that consumers "expect to see Pantene Relaxed & Natural with other Pantene products."Other general-market companies have entered the ethnic arena. John Frieda’s Frizz-Ease Relax launched in September 2001.

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