NEW YORK — Nizoral is turning to what seems an unlikely source to grow its mass retail antidandruff shampoo business: salons.

On Jan. 14, executives from McNeil Healthcare, a division of Johnson & Johnson and parent of the anti-dandruff shampoo brand, drew more than 85 hairstylists and salon owners to midtown’s Sofitel Hotel to discuss the causes and cures for dandruff.

Nizoral executives believe that the more stylists know about dandruff — and, more importantly, about Nizoral — the more they will recommend the shampoo to clients. “Consumers have told us that they consider stylists hair and scalp experts,” Rosalinda Markels, marketing manager for McNeil’s Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo division, said. These customers, in turn, may be more likely to buy Nizoral if their stylist recommends it, which retails for $15.96 for a 7-oz. bottle and $10.49 for a 4-oz. bottle at food, drug and mass stores nationwide. A nonmedicated conditioner that can be used on all hair types retails for $6.30.

Data reveals that many potential customers exist. A study by Nizoral showed that one in three, or 63 million Americans, suffer from dandruff.

The public relations effort is important for Nizoral since it competes in a category led by Procter & Gamble’s Head & Shoulders and Neutrogena’s T-Gel.

According to Information Resources Inc., Head & Shoulders grabbed 8.4 percent of shampoo dollar share last year and is the third best-selling brand in the overall shampoo category. T-Gel claims 2 percent of shampoo dollar share. Nizoral, on the other hand, claims just 1.4 percent of shampoo dollar share. However, Nizoral has only been available without a prescription since 1999. Nizoral launched as a prescription-only product in 1990, while Head & Shoulders has been on the market for 38 years and T-Gel for 22 years.

Explaining how Nizoral is unique to the anti-dandruff shampoo market was key to the seminar.

“A lot of shampoos get rid of flakes but Nizoral attacks the source of the problem,” Markels told the audience of stylists. “Ketoconazole is our own patented ingredient made to fight the fungus,” called pityrosporum, a microorganism that normally exists on the scalp, Markels said. People more sensitive to the fungus develop dandruff.

You May Also Like

Over-the-counter Nizoral contains 1 percent ketoconazole, whereas prescription-strength Nizoral contains 2 percent Ketoconazole.

“Some people respond better to 2 percent,” Markels said of the various ketoconazole levels.

What also makes Nizoral different from competitors, Markels noted, is that consumers only have to use the product twice a week for up to eight weeks, as opposed to daily for an indefinite period of time as instructed by competitors for their products.

The educational event is the fourth Nizoral has hosted in six months. The company began its educational campaign in Chicago in early summer, then hit Los Angeles in November and Miami in December.

The events are slowly uncovering information that shows salons may not have been such an unlikely target for boosting anti-dandruff shampoo sales after all. Results from questionnaires filled out by New York attendees revealed that only 53 percent of the stylists surveyed currently sell anti-dandruff shampoos or offer anti-dandruff treatments. Many stylists also reported that they have not brought up the subject of flakes, dry scalp or dandruff to their clients in the past. Of the 85 stylists surveyed, only 42 stated that they have brought up the subject to a client.

As a result, Nizoral plans to sell product direct to salons this year.