Skip to main content

Hair Accessories May Fall No More

NEW YORK — Sometimes a new feature on an everyday product, like a hair rubber band, is so late to the game it’s a wonder that it took the industry so long to address the obvious. For example, the latest innovations in hair accessories are...

NEW YORK — Sometimes a new feature on an everyday product, like a hair rubber band, is so late to the game it’s a wonder that it took the industry so long to address the obvious. For example, the latest innovations in hair accessories are in those made to stay in the hair — even through a workout.

While it may not sound like the most advanced science around, it does address annoying occurrences: A drooping jaw clip, a runaway barrette and a slippery headband are major downsides to wearing them. 

Falling hair accessories — further challenged by today’s trendy stick-straight hairstyles — could be a contributing factor to the downturn of their sales from 2002 to 2004, which slipped 3.3 percent, 6.8 percent and 0.4 percent over the past three years, respectively, according to Information Resources Inc. The competition posed by retailers outside of the food, drug and mass channels hasn’t helped either.

But now, several of the category’s leading mass players are designing hair items meant to keep rubber bands and barrettes in place, as well as fashion items that may better compete against specialty store offerings. 

Scünci International, which, as reported in these pages, was acquired by Conair Corp. in late March, has created a line complete with bobby pins, barrettes, snap clips, headbands and jaw clips designed to stay in hair. Bobby pins have teeth, and barrettes, snap clips and jaw clips all use rubber to allow for better hold without damaging hair.

Mary LaFauci, head of Scünci’s product development, said adding technology to commodity items is what is driving floor traffic in the HBA aisle. The company tested some of its new products in select food, drug and mass stores a year ago. Sales were strong, indicative of Scünci’s innovation and number-one position in hair accessories. They are now rolling out nationwide.

“You don’t get to over 50 percent market share by being a me-too company,” she said.

Goody Products Inc., the second leading hair accessories player, has also launched a new line, Stay Put, one that offers rubber bands that are designed to better stay in hair. Goody is marketing Stay Put as a line for active and athletic women and has even partnered with Reebok to get samples of the new rubber bands into the hands of celebrities and their personal trainers. The new design, which is patented, launches to food, drug and mass stores this summer. Rubber bands are the first products in the Stay Put line, and this summer a children’s version in fashion colors will be sold promotionally in Wal-Mart. In 2006, Stay Put plans to expand beyond elastics.

Related Galleries

You May Also Like

Jessica Miller, vice president of marketing for Goody, said the company stumbled upon an unmet need when a poll of 200 women revealed that 75 percent of them had to stop a workout at one point to tighten a rubber band, which was slipping out.

“Normal elastics roll or slip out when women are active,” Miller said.

Goody’s new bands have a rubber thread running through them. There are five stockkeeping units, including bands for thin and medium hair, and extra wide bands for really thick hair. There are also bands made to coordinate with workout clothes, as well as traditional black rubber bands. The new bands retail between $3.99 and $4.99.

Despite the category’s slow-moving sales, Miller said Goody has experienced sales increases due mainly to a merchandising partnership with Target last year. The retailer in the beginning of 2004 made Goody its exclusive hair accessory brand (save for a small amount of private label items that Miller said are being phased out). The four-foot section, however, changes merchandise each season in a display called Revolving Fashion.  The effort, Miller said, has brought Target “double-digit increases” in the hair accessory category and has also rekindled interest in hair accessories.

“It has brought consumers down the aisle again because we’re changing [the assortment] four times a year. We’re bringing freshness to the category,” Miller said.

For spring, Revolving Fashion is featuring colorful, preppy items, a selection Miller said has so far been the best-selling offering yet.