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Procter & Gamble Unleashes New Launches

Free of the brands it divested to Coty, P&G launches new strategies for its core beauty brands.

Procter & Gamble is centering itself for the new year.

Free of the 41 brands it divested to Coty Inc. in 2016, the consumer goods giant is plowing forth into 2017 with a slew of product launches designed to hopefully rejuvenate its core beauty business.

For starters, the company is completely reworking its hair business, giving makeovers to Pantene, Herbal Essences and Head & Shoulders, with each of the brands now playing off a different hair trend related to the overarching consumer focus on health and wellness.

While WWD reported this month that Pantene and Head & Shoulders bolstered sales last year for P&G, Herbal Essences has not been doing well. But this month, the brand is launching nine new collections under the Herbal Essences Bio Renew platform, which positions the brand as a naturally focused, good-for-you line infused with antioxidants and sea kelp, and formulated without “nasties” such as parabens and allergens like gluten. “We’re taking it back to the heritage of the brand,” said Jodi Allen, vice president of hair care for North America at Procter & Gamble. “Most people don’t realize it was the first natural brand in the [hair] category.”

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Each of the new collections is formulated with a cocktail of food-based or natural ingredients targeted at a specific hair issue. Some of the new formulations are Strength (Vitamin E and Cocoa Butter), Naked Moisture (Rosemary and Herbs) and Nourish (Passion Flower and Rice Milk). The new line is packaged in apothecary bottles once used by the brand, harkening back to the original days of Herbal Essences. “We did a lot of testing, and that’s the packaging our consumers loved,” said Allen. “The word they used was ‘retro’…they consider it iconic.” The styling products, shampoos and conditioners have a suggested retail price of $5.99 each.

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Pantene has already released its new campaign, starring Selena Gomez and Priyanka Chopra, centered on “fueling your hair.” “We’re trying to reframe from ‘washing your hair’ to ‘fueling your hair,’” said Allen, who noted that consumer research indicates most people feel shampoos are too harsh and strip their hair of healthy oils. To remedy that, Pantene is introducing a brand new, pro-vitamin-infused formula P&G scientists have been working over 15 years to perfect. Allen said the formula, which holds 22 patents, infuses nutrients, antioxidants and lipids into hair so that strands feel as healthy as possible. The suggested retail price is $3.99 to $4.99.

Pantene is a brand known for reworking itself. To convince consumers to try the new version, Allen said the brand will partake in an “unprecedented level of sampling.” Fueling the hair, “is analogous to the wellness trend out there,” said Allen. “There are a lot of products with ‘zero this’ or ‘zero that’ out there, and this is about adding good things to your hair.”

Head & Shoulders seems to be less of a focus for P&G, but it does have a new zinc-infused formula designed to be more potent, and Allan noted that it is primed to target the growing consumer obsession with scalp health. “It has been the trusted brand for scalp,” said Allen. “We’re playing up the scalp aspect even more, we’re talking more about it.”

Allen is hoping the reworking of P&G’s key hair brands will help rejuvenate the mass hair category.

“Pantene is playing in the health and wellness space, Herbal is playing in the naturals space and Head & Shoulders is playing in the scalp health space,” said Allen, noting that the company is banking on the longevity of the consumer wellness trend. “We owe it to our retailers to be the growth engine for their category.”

Switching over to skin care, Olay is still in the number-one spot for facial antiaging products, per the most recent IRI data, though it is certainly facing competition from L’Oréal Paris and Neutrogena, who are innovating faster than before.

This month, Olay becomes part of a growing boon of mass brands taking their cues from trends in Asia. And the brand has good reason to — P&G reported in its earnings call earlier this month that SK-II is continuing to grow in the U.S. market.

The key Olay product launches for January are the Miracle Boost Concentrates, which are lightweight, serumlike products designed to enhance the effects of a skin-care routine. The Olay Luminous Miracle Boost Concentrate is infused with a proprietary technology, Pearl-Optics Science, to enhance skin’s absorbency for hydration. The booster is designed to fade the look of hyperpigmentation, and is meant to be used with the new Luminous Tone Perfecting Cream. There is also the Regenerist Miracle Boost Concentrate, which is more of an antiaging product. It is designed to speed up cell renewal for improved texture. The suggested retail prices on the products are between $24.99 and $33.99.

Olay is also reformulating a total of 20 of its hero products, including its Regenerist line. The Regenerist formulas were redone to work faster, with clinical studies showing results after four weeks. The new formulas were modeled on Olay research on women who look younger than their actual age, who are thought to have harder-working “skin genes.”