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Not Your Mother’s Hair Color: Coty Reveals New Life for Nice ‘n Easy

Consumers are performing more beauty services in the comfort of their homes. With that in mind, Coty has retooled Nice 'n Easy to re-create a spa experience with at-home hair color.

Coty has a blueprint to revive sales in the dull at-home hair color market. First up is the reboot of Nice ‘n Easy, the biggest update in the brand’s 60-plus year history.

Nice ‘n Easy, which Coty acquired from Procter & Gamble in 2016, is the largest hair color in the company’s stable. Its sales, however, declined 10 percent in the most recent 52-week period, ended Dec. 3, tracked in multiunit doors by IRI to $90 million. To reverse that trend, Coty is transforming at-home hair color into a spa experience rather than a budgetary choice or a nagging chore. Retailers said that’s been accomplished, they feel, by removing the biggest barriers to box choices, namely fear of damage, smell and messy formulas. Many contacted by WWD expect to see Nice ‘n Easy sales expand by at least 25 percent with the new effort.

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“Today’s consumers are demanding products that address their top wants, needs and concerns, though true innovation in the at-home color category to address these needs has been long overdue,” stated Laurent Kleitman, president of Global Consumer Beauty for Coty. He added the launch of the new Nice ‘N Easy is the “dawn of a new era for Clairol and the category as a whole.”

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The category could use some black ink. Overall hair color volume has been down for several years with the most recent 52-week IRI data, for the period ended Dec. 3 posting a decline overall of 1.6 percent to $1.6 billion produced in multiunit doors. Women’s hair color sales were off 2.3 percent, while men coloring their tresses more often helped lift that segment 3.1 percent.

What caused the downturn of a category that should be thriving as baby boomers gray and younger shoppers experiment with frequent hair color transformations? “It really has been a perfect storm,” explained Anna Vorrias, vice president global and U.S. marketing for Clairol at Coty. “We haven’t had innovation in technology and packaging hasn’t been updated. More people went to salons or were dual users. The at-home experience wasn’t good and there were damage concerns.”

Those were all roadblocks Coty sought to unclog, according to Jeffrey Miller, senior director for Clairol Retail Hair Color Research and Development. New Damage-Blocking technology removes the fear of harm by addressing the issues of minerals, especially copper, in the application of color. The new formula is also a cream, allowing for it to feel more like a conditioner than a hair color. “And the cream allowed us to add a fragrance [created by fragrance house Givaudan],” he said, versus the ammonia odor.

James Corbett, Clairol’s color director and owner of the New York studio bearing his name recently illustrated the advancements of the new Nice ‘n Easy (dubbed Bloom while in development). Unlike the original formula which was runny, the new Nice ‘n Easy is thicker and more like salon products (borrowing technology from its sister Wella division) and applies to hair more effectively. “They have removed the stigma of at home coloring,” said Corbett, who noted he has many clients who color their own tresses in between visits to a salon — and he’s all for that.

Clairol Revamps Legendary Nice 'n Easy
New packaging alerts shoppers to advancements in the formula such as the fresh floral scent.

Retailers see a glimmer of hope in the at-home hair color market and they hope the relaunch of Nice ‘n Easy will lure more users to the brand and the category. “The hypoallergenic properties and fragrance do make a nice experience and new packaging is eye-catching. They have to tell consumers about it and what is new,” said one top retailer.

The recast lineup, available in the same 47 shades and priced that on par with what it replaces at $7.99, is currently hitting retail shelves. What retailer said will be important is educating existing consumers to avoid confusion, while luring more at-home customers.

Shannon Curtin, senior vice president of North America, Consumer Beauty at Clairol said Coty has that covered with an advertising, social media and in store plan that hits on all gears. “We are bringing this experience in-store, with more than 20,000 touch points across retail and interactive events that will allow the shopper to experience the amazing new Nice ‘n Easy scent, while also educating them on the great new care benefits. We will also be introducing ChatBot technology integrating the Clairol My Shade App that will be customizable for retailers,” Curtin explained.