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OGX Hopes to Jump-start Hairstyling Category

The Johnson & Johnson-owned brand has driven significant growth in shampoo and conditioners. Can it do the same for styling?

Can OGX reverse declining sales in the hairstyling category?

The Johnson & Johnson-owned brand in January is unveiling an ambitious range of hairstyling products — a first for OGX, which primarily focuses on shampoo and conditioners formulated with on-trend ingredients such as argan oil and coconut milk. OGX did a test of the line this year with Ulta Beauty, and it will roll out to drug and mass distribution in early 2018.

The line will consist of 16 products divvied up into six ranges — each range is centered on a natural hero ingredient that provides a specific benefit, such as smoothing or texture. The line consists of traditional styling products such as mousse and hairspray as well as hot items in the prestige market like dry shampoo and innovative formats including a texture spray wax and a cream-mousse blend.

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Hairstyling is the problem child in today’s mass market hair landscape. Kline & Co. recorded a 4.1 percent dip in styling product sales in 2016, while shampoo and conditioner grew at 2.3 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively. In the 52 weeks ending Sept. 10, IRI reported hairspray was down 3.9 percent overall and gels and mousses were down 2.5 percent overall, with all the major players — Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Alberto Culver and Garnier — experiencing declines. The only bright spots were with brands offering natural ingredients and catering to a multicultural audience — SheaMoisture and Cantu saw double-digit growth in gels and mousses.

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A recent report from Mintel showed that hairstyling products have been on the decline since 2011, despite positive gains in shampoo and conditioner. Mintel’s research suggests that shampoo and conditioner sales have been powered by blockbuster launches such as Garnier Whole Blends, which answered consumer demand for natural ingredients. Meanwhile, most hairstyling product formulations have yet to be updated to reflect the consumer shift in preference toward natural ingredients — and products like gels and hairsprays are viewed as dated as more consumers embrace the current trend toward wearing hair in its natural texture, as well as focusing on the overall health of the hair.

“Innovation is what the mass hair-care category — and all mass categories — need to revive themselves,” said Naira Aslanian, project manager for the beauty and personal-care industry at Kline & Co. “This is also needed to stand out, as many of the professional brands sell in the big-box retailers. Mass brands are competing with professional brands on shelves.”

Innovation is what OGX focused on in bringing its hairstyling range to fruition.

“We’re taking a modern approach to styling — the end result needs to be a soft, healthy look. Gone are the days of really sticky gels and hairsprays and hard-hold fixatives, and within the range we’ve infused exotic ingredients that will give you an end benefit,” said Jaime Kontz, associate director of product innovation at Vogue International. Johnson & Johnson acquired Vogue International in 2016.

The six collections that comprise the OGX styling range are the Bodifying Plus Bamboo Fiber Full, Texture, Extra Strength Plus Honey Hold, Protecting Plus Silk Blowout, Smoothing Plus Shea Sleek and Locking Plus Coconut Curls. Each product is priced at $8.99.

Each collection harnesses a natural ingredient for an end benefit. Kontz listed the Protecting Plus Silk Blowout Quick Drying Thermal Spray, which uses silk extract and quinoa to protect against heat damage and speed drying time, as an example of the brand’s innovation. “A quick-drying thermal spray that is multifunctional — there aren’t a lot of products like it on the market,” Kontz said. “It’s [indicative] of the type of products we’re offering — they’re going to be different from all the gels and other fixatives that have been sitting on the shelf for years.”

Variety and versatility were two other key factors in developing the range, said Courtney Connelly, senior brand manager for Vogue International. Faced with research showing that consumers prefer to use fewer products to style their hair, the brand focused on multipurpose products and made sure to offer items that would work with every hair type. “The formula of how different brands approach things is very negative and focused on fixing you — our brand is focused on complementing exactly what you want to do and letting you do you. That really resonates with consumers,” Connelly said.

Retailers are confident that the new OGX line will lift the styling category’s sales.

“We’ve seen a lot of loyalty for OGX from our customers, who have been asking for styling products from this trusted brand, so there’s definitely a lot of excitement surrounding this launch,” said Maly Bernstein, vice president of beauty and personal care at CVS. “We anticipate that the OGX line extension will help drive growth in the hair category overall and revitalize styling innovation.”

Also on deck for OGX in 2018 is a new product range called Salon Technology, which will usher into the mass market professional-inspired products. The first launch will be the Restoring Plus Bonding Plex, a trio of products — shampoo, conditioner and treatment — uses keratin proteins and Cystine, a cross-linking polymer, to strengthen and deep-condition overprocessed hair.

“We saw as a category that styling was down, however…there are professional products that are winning that haven’t trickled down to drug yet,” Kontz said. “It goes back to the fact that styling needs to be disrupted.”