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EXCLUSIVE: Olaplex Introduces No. 9 Hair Serum

"We don't want sku proliferation, we want sku innovation," said Olaplex CEO JuE Wong.

Hair care’s buzziest player is adding a new product to its lineup.

Olaplex is introducing its ninth retail stock keeping unit, the No. 9 Bond Protector Nourishing Hair Serum. The product, which is devoid of silicones and boasts both protective and styling claims, launches on March 31 on Olaplex’s website and with sephora.com. It is priced at $28.

The launch comes at a time of explosive growth for the brand, which raised a $1.8 billion IPO last year, valuing the business around $16 billion. In 2021, the brand more than doubled net sales to $598.4 million.

As reported by WWD, the brand is betting on international expansion, such as its partnerships with Sephora and in professional businesses in Europe. It is predicting between $796 million and $826 million in net sales for 2022.

“When Olaplex started in 2014, we did not launch anything new until four years later,” said JuE Wong, chief executive officer of Olaplex, nodding to its shampoo and conditioner launches. “But as evidenced by NPD tracking data, we had the top shampoo and conditioner in 2021. It had longevity. Our objective when we launch something is, it has to be best-in-class, while also being incremental and not cannibalizing to our business.”

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On the brand’s most recent earnings call, Wong called out the shampoo and conditioner, as well as the No. 8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask, as some of its bestselling products for 2021.

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Despite the brand’s exponential sales increases, its assortment remains tightly edited. “What we don’t want is sku proliferation, we want sku innovation,” Wong said. “And we look at everything we do as having a treatment component.”

The product also boasts a range of claims. Olaplex tested the product to prove that it protects hair from pollution for 48 hours. It also uses a red algae extract to provide UVA and UVB protection, alongside the brand’s proprietary bond-building technology. It also protects against heat damage.

“It also has a curved retention memory and a body retention memory as you style your hair,” Wong added. “I would love for a customer to be able to pick and choose their regimen. But at the same time, not to have to fluctuate between, say, No. 0 and No. 3. Our objective is to make it easy for existing customers, but also continue to acquire new customers to the Olaplex family. We are excited about this No. 9 launch because protection is the one thing people are most concerned about besides repairing their hair. This gives them optionality.”

Wong posited that a streamlined yet customizable assortment was the best way to simplify purchasing decisions, adding that while other products have styling benefits, they are fundamentally different from No. 9.

“We wanted to make this easy for the consumer, that if they love our products and want to protect their hair, they don’t have to keep putting on other products to build it up because that can weigh down the hair,” Wong added. “This is why we encourage No. 6 [Bond Smoother] and No. 7 [Bonding Oil]. If you look at them, they are part of a styling regimen, but with different benefits. No. 9 is a nourishing serum, protecting you against pollution, and No. 6 and No. 7 hydrate your hair.”

Wong didn’t comment on specific sales expectations for the serum, although industry sources expect its revenues to reach $15 million by the end of 2022.

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