NEW YORK — Trying to kill two birds with one stone can take a product launch to a whole new level. That’s exactly Maybelline-Garnier’s aim with the launch of Garnier Fructis, a hair care brand it hopes will shake up the sleepy shampoo and conditioner segment, as well as turn the Garnier brand into a U.S. household beauty name.While Garnier Fructis, (pronounced Frooc-TIS) does have a tall order to meet, Garnier executives "are betting the ranch" that the 11-stockkeeping-unit hair care line will be as successful in the U.S. as it is abroad. Since its initial launch in France in 1996, Fructis has garnered competitive unit and market share in France, Spain, Canada and Mexico. To that end, Fructis is expected to reach a 5 percent dollar market share here its first year out, with the potential to become a 10 percent dollar market share brand moving forward. Garnier executives wouldn’t comment on Fructis’ sales potential, but industry sources expect the brand to generate more than $100 million in its first 12 months following the launch. "Garnier Fructis is the largest launch in L’Oréal Worldwide history," said Karen Fondu, general manager for Maybelline-Garnier, which is a division of L’Oréal. "We are convinced the brand will revolutionize what is now a sleepy hair care category." Maybelline-Garnier sales data shows Fondu isn’t being overly optimistic. Core unit share for Garnier Fructis in France is 10.6; in Spain it’s 7.8; in Canada it’s 7; in Germany it’s 5.2; and in Mexico it’s 4.7. Sources estimate Fructis’ unit share could reach 5 percent in the U.S. in 52 weeks.Garnier Fructis consists of 11 sku’s, all of which retailers have taken in for its February launch. "The amount of retail support we are receiving is like nothing I have ever seen before," said Edward Trapani, assistant vice president for Maybelline-Garnier.The line includes six shampoos, with variants for normal, dry or damaged, color-treated or permed, fine, 2-in-1 and antidandruff hair and scalp types. Four conditioners are made for normal, dry or damaged, color-treated or permed, and fine hair. A Fortifying Deep Conditioner is designed as a three-minute masque with fruit-acid concentrate to nourish hair. Products will retail for $3.59.Garnier, which has a 75-year history, will be positioned as a high tech, zest-for-life hair care brand, targeting men and women who like to have fun. "[The Garnier consumer] is a little looser" than the L’Oréal consumer, said Joseph Campinell, president, L’Oréal Consumer Products Group, Maybelline-Garnier. "Fructis will also give L’Oréal the opportunity to expand its vendor share in the mass hair care market, something we can’t do with the single L’Oréal brand," Campinell added. L’Oréal ranks as the number-four shampoo vendor and the number-five conditioner vendor. L’Oréal's most successful hair care brand to date is L’Oréal Vive. Fructis looks to go head-to-head with Pantene, Salon Selectives, Finesse, Herbal Essences and Thermasilk. In many cases, Fructis will be positioned next to Pantene on the hair care shelf, a request Garnier executives brought up to retailers as they presented the line. "It doesn’t hurt to be near the market leader, a 15 share brand," Campinell noted.But it would be hard to miss Fructis on shelves no matter where it was placed. Packaged in bright, lime green containers, "Fructis will jump off of shelves," according to Gregg Heller, HBA buyer for May’s Drug Stores. Formulas are enriched with active fruit concentrate, such as fruit acids, vitamins B3 and B6, fructose and glucose, to help make hair more resistant to breakage. Maybelline-Garnier studies showed that Fructis made hair five times stronger.Conditioner bottles are designed so that they sit upside down, allowing the thick formulas to gravitate down towards the spout. Fructis’ scent combines the essences of melon and grapefruit, two energizing fragrances. To promote the brand, Maybelline-Garnier is spending $100 million in TV, print and public relations efforts. Pascal Ranger, vice president of marketing, Maybelline-Garnier, said to expect advertising for Fructis in the least likely places. "The strategy is to intercept the consumer wherever they are," Ranger said. Internationally, Fructis consists of styling products. Moving forward, "we will be looking at that in the future [in the U.S.]," said Kat Peeler, Maybelline-Garnier’s assistant vice president.In addition to shaking up the hair care category, Ranger and Peeler said Garnier Fructis has legs long enough to take the Garnier brand to the next level. In short, Fructis is L’Oréal’s best opportunity to put the Garnier brand deep into the minds of consumers. To date, Garnier’s U.S. launches have been only mildly successful. Its two brands, Nutrisse and Lumia — both hair colorants — claim a 6.5 percent dollar market share combined. Nutrisse, the more successful of the two, has firmly planted itself as a here-to-stay brand in the hair color category: Nutrisse found a niche with a formula enriched with fruit extracts in 2000. Furthermore, Nutrisse became synonymous with sexy hair when Garnier signed "Sex and the City" star Sarah Jessica Parker as its spokesperson. But not all has been uphill for Garnier. An earlier brand, Belle Color, failed at retail after four years on the U.S. market. It was pulled from shelves last year. Campinell points out that considering the competition, Garnier has pulled out OK."It has been fighting against the category’s two gorillas [L’Oréal and Clairol]. Now we’re ready to quadruple Garnier’s franchise overnight."

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