NEW YORK — The folks at Clairol don’t take everything so literally. That’s why the company didn’t think twice about launching a fruit-infused shampoo, conditioner and body wash line under the venerable Herbal Essences brand.

“The short answer is that Herbal Essences is a proven success,” said Larry Lucas, group product manager for Clairol Herbal Essences. “We have the most successful brand in HBA and we plan on leveraging that.”

According to the company, Herbal Essences is a $700 million global brand. Hence, the new name, Herbal Essences Fruit Fusions, a hair and body line that has been designed to bring “class to mass” with an “exotic blend of fruit that, so far, consumers can only find in department and specialty stores,” said Anna Corini, brand manager for Herbal Essences Fruit Fusions.

In consumer testing, Clairol found that the fragrance and concept of Herbal Essences Fruit Fusions tested better under the Herbal Essences brand than under a new trademark. “Time and time again, consumers chose [the product under] the Herbal Essences” trademark, Lucas said.

And, consumers weren’t confused by a fruit-infused product packaged under a brand known for its relationship with herbs.

“Herbal Essences has herbal in its name, but Herbal Essences is not just about herbs. It really represents a natural product, not specific flowers and not specific herbs. And what can be more natural than fruit?”Lucas said.

Five different formulas have been designed to suit the needs of various hair types. Nailing a complex, multifragranced aroma, “one that she can’t quite put her finger on,” was key to the new line, said Corini. A Hydrating stockkeeping unit for damaged hair is infused with blackberry, avocado and mango. A Protecting sku with mandarin, starfruit and papaya is intended for color-treated hair. For normal hair, there’s a Revitalizing sku, which includes pomegranate, lychee and persimmon in its formula. There’s also a Purifying sku for normal to oily hair, which is formulated with kiwi, kumquat and fig.

Clairol is so confident that Herbal Essences Fruit Fusions will make a hit with consumers — the company would not comment on sales expectations but industry sources estimate the line could generate $60 million in first-year sales — they have designed two body wash sku’s, as well.

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Shampoos and conditioners will be available in mass retailers nationwide beginning in late March. Body wash sku’s will appear in stores in late June.

Herbal Essences Fruit Fusions is line-priced with existing Herbal Essences shampoo and conditioners at $3.49.

A national TV advertising campaign and dedicated TV spots — estimated by sources to near $20 million — will support the new line. TV ads will break in mid-May and print ads will appear in June beauty magazines.

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