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Kérastase Evolves Its Strategy

The professional luxury hair-care brand is reworking everything from its advertising to product packaging and formulation.

PARIS — Kérastase is undergoing an evolution.

“We will grow the brand by bringing more value to our clients and to our consumers,” said Vincent Nida, general manager of the L’Oréal-owned professional luxury hair-care label. “That is our number-one focus.”

He added value can come in many guises — like products, services and education. “It’s all about bringing something more, and that’s what Kérastase has been good at,” said the executive. “We believe also because we are a rather selective brand that we can bring more value by being more personal.”

High touch was a cornerstone for the label at its launch in 1964, so in ramping that up again now, Kérastase is essentially returning to its roots.

“Luxury doesn’t mean distance,” said Nida, explaining that the brand’s new advertising campaign, lensed by Peter Lindbergh and featuring Toni Garrn, Margaret Zhang and Cameron Russell, is meant to show women in true moments of life.

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“We wanted a photographer that captures the real and shoots without any artificial tricks,” said Nida. “Peter Lindbergh shoots with natural light — there’s no flash. We wanted to show something real — or more real — than what we have done until now.

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“We chose three women who have some kind of commitment, who are not just models,” he continued. Garrn, through her foundation, raises money for projects advocating and advancing girls’ rights; Zhang is a blogger, broadcaster and print journalist, while Russell is an environmental activist.

“We thought they were three very interesting personalities — very genuine, beautiful people,” said Nida, noting they all were Kérastase users before signing on to the campaign. “For me it’s necessary that there is also a real authenticity in the relationship they have with the brand.”

The print images being rolled out currently through yearend worldwide include Kérastase’s new tag line: “Very personal care for exceptional hair.”

“It says everything about what we want to do,” said Nida. “‘Very personal care’ is not just about hair care. It’s the care to our employees, to our stylists, to our consumers. So it means focusing a lot on listening and knowing better all the people who are around the Kérastase world.”

Internal teams and hair stylists are being taught to deliver personal advice to clients. The brand’s employees are at the same time continuing to meet with Kérastase users in their own homes and in salons to conduct qualitative research.

Product packaging has been tweaked to look sharper, more premium, contemporary and feminine, while staying true to the label’s DNA and upping its sustainability quotient, said Nida.

In the relook, Kérastase cut down on 25 percent of material used, and packaging is now manufactured in a completely carbon-neutral factory using solar-powered energy. “We have reduced drastically the use of water and are using a lot of recycled materials also,” he added.

Further, Kérastase’s product formulation now has a higher level of biodegradability and contains as many solidarity-sourced ingredients as possible.

“We are committed to some communities in different regions of the world,” said Nida. “Sustainability is not a constraint, it is actually a way to be more creative and to bring even more value to our consumers.”

The brand’s execution will be a prime focus looking ahead, as well, with Kérastase making sure it partners with salons with the right level of service, said Nida.

“It’s not the case in all the salons where we are, and we believe we owe that to our consumers,” he said. The label therefore will help salons upgrade in some instances and might part ways with others. On the e-tail front, musts include a site’s high level of quality and personal experience, plus it’s helping recruit and drive people to salons, according to Nida.

“We only work today with people who have salons,” he said. “Our focus is really to provide this very consistent experience throughout the channels.”

Currently, Kérastase is in about 1 percent of salon doors globally. Geographically speaking, the business is well-balanced around the world, with the brand’s top-five countries being the U.S., China, Japan, France and Italy. Western Europe remains its largest zone.

“We intend to remain strong where we are and to grow where there is potential,” said Nida.

The executive would not discuss figures, but industry sources estimate that Kérastase is the professional hair-care market leader worldwide with more than 12 percent market share and that it generates about 1.5 billion euros, or $1.68 billion at current exchange, in retail sales annually.

Nida said the objective is to double the label’s size within six to seven years, with Kérastase still very much underdeveloped today in terms of penetration among people in its targeted consumer profile.

“It’s a very ambitious strategy, but we are very committed to making it happen,” he explained. “We’ve also changed the way we work internally — working in a much more collaborative way between the countries, the headquarters — to facilitate the implementation.”