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A Change In Dep Perception

LOS ANGELES -- With a new line, new products and a new look, Dep is marking the new year with a triple-threat initiative the mass brand hopes will gel with consumers. A modified logo and streamlined packaging copy illustrates the changes of...

LOS ANGELES — With a new line, new products and a new look, Dep is marking the new year with a triple-threat initiative the mass brand hopes will gel with consumers. A modified logo and streamlined packaging copy illustrates the changes of the new-and-improved product collection that is now hitting shelves in 70,000 accounts nationwide.

“Our last relaunch was in 1998,” pointed out the company’s brand manager Anja English from Dep headquarters in Rancho Dominguez, a city 40 minutes south of Los Angeles. “The marketplace is changing quickly. We’ve discovered an unmet consumer demand for nondamaging products, which we address in the relaunch.”

The core line of unisex gels that are designed to shine, moisturize, shape and texturize have been reformulated with a conditioning complex. The change is duly noted in a bubble above the logo. A “hold scale” also now appears on packaging, with the rank circled for emphasis, said English.

The best-selling hold is 8. And evidently, consumers are looking for something even stronger: Another bestseller is the Dep Sport Endurance Gel, ranked 10.

In fact, the success of the two Dep Sport stockkeeping units, introduced in 2001, prompted the company to double its offerings with the Endurance Pomade, a thickening gel (rated at 12) and the Anti-Dandruff & Styling Gel (a 10). Both begin shipping in mid-February. While the pomade is priced along with the rest of the line in the $2.29-$2.99 range, the eight-oz. toggle of dandruff treatment/holding gel retails for $3.79.

English calls the two-in-one product the company’s “biggest and most revolutionary” news, noting the formula has a patent pending and has been registered as an over-the-counter drug.

The brand is banking on Dep Sport to drive sales, although it is still relatively new in the marketplace, said English. “It’s already trending as a bestseller.”

To that end, a print campaign is now in the planning stages to roll out in health, fitness, beauty and lifestyle magazines in April.

A separate campaign will highlight the core brand, as well as the third initiative: the launch of Dep Botanicals.

Like Dep Sport, the new line bows in March with only two sku’s, a Nourishing Gel, which is heavy on chamomile and watercress, and Volumizing, which taps into aloe vera and lavender.

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Flowering images of the primary herbal ingredients are pictured on the clear Botanical line bottles, providing a more feminine contrast to the silvery blue and black opaque packaging of Dep Sport — designed with men’s locker rooms in mind.

With the new additions, the entire Dep collection grows to 15 sku’s. The company reports retail sales of $24 million, with a 9.1 percent dollar market share of the styling gel category, excluding Wal-Mart. Dep is number three in the $193 million styling gel category, behind number-one ranked L.A. Looks — which is owned by Schwartkopf & Dep, the same parent of the Dep brand — and L’Oreal.

The relaunch comes amid personnel changes at Dep Corp. Last June, the company tapped Robert Thomas as vice president of sales for its portfolio of brands. Thomas had most recently been vice president of sales for L’Oreal’s hair care division. However, Thomas has since left. Thomas Roach now serves in the position. English, who arrived early last year from the parent company’s Germany headquarters, declined to elaborate.