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Coty Makes Customization Play With System Professional

The salon-exclusive prestige product range will be launched in the U.S. in April.

Coty Professional Beauty is bringing the customization craze to salons.

The professional arm of Coty Inc. in April will introduce System Professional, its most ambitious launch since Wella Professionals was divested from Procter & Gamble last year — a personalized in-salon treatment menu, supported by a 68-item prestige hair-care and styling range that is to be sold exclusively by salons offering the treatment services.

Rooted in a proprietary technology, called EnergyCode Complex, each treatment and product contains a formula, including ingredients typically found in skin care, designed to restore hair to its optimal state of health. Salon clients who book an “EnergyCode mapping” service are guided by a stylist through a questionnaire about their hair and scalp health, then given a diagnosis that includes their very own EnergyCode — one of 174 million possible combinations of the 68 System Professional products, to use at home.

It is a move by Coty to lead the charge on re-energizing — literally — the salon treatment business in the age of quick-service models like Drybar that focus on in-and-out blowouts and don’t focus on hair health.

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“There’s a movement in salon today for services, but it’s very focused on color and finishing,” said Becky Godlove, director of prestige hair brands at Coty Professional Beauty in North America. “We [want to] elevate the role of care in the salon.”

The success of System Professional is banking on consumers beginning to treat their hair and scalp the same as they would their skin.

“Clients [at Wella salons] are saying hair is their number-one priority, but they’re using five skin-care products at night and five during the day and spending two to three times as much on product,” said Godlove. “Why don’t they have a solution that meets their needs like [the skin-care market] does?”

The EnergyCode formula is comprised of a cocktail of ingredients said to bring hair back to optimal health. The ingredient list includes natural lipids to improve hair structure, histidine to protect against free radicals, caffeine to increase blood circulation to the scalp and keep the hair root energized and vitamin B3 amide to balance scalp moisture.

All treatments and products are formulated with the EnergyCode technology. Each product is given its own code — for instance, Balance Shampoo for sensitive scalp and hair loss is B1 and the Hydrate Mask is H3. The EnergyCode is made up of a string of codes corresponding to products or product lines. For instance, an energy code could look like this: P1 C2 C+ V6. Translation: Purify Shampoo, Color Save Conditioner, Color Save Mask, Volume Boost Bodifying Foam. Some formulations, including the Purify range, will not available in North America.

In salons, clients are guided on an app by their stylist through a series of questions about their hair and scalp health, then given a “diagnosis” consisting of their own EnergyCode, which corresponds to the treatment they should get in the salon and their corresponding at-home hair regimen.

The EnergyCode also clues the stylist in on what in-salon treatment to give the client. Treatments consist of four base services: Energy to improve scalp health (EnergyZ outside of North America), Essential for a speedy hair mask that is designed to take only 10 minutes, Intense for clients with ultradamaged hair and Reborn, a wellness-oriented treatment that incorporates massage. Treatments can be further customized by adding infusion or emulsion shots, based on specific hair needs.

For Coty, System Professional is a big idea, which is why Godlove says the company hasn’t mapped out the exact number of salons in which System Professional will be offered. “We’re focused on finding salons that meet our criteria, which is that they dedicate half the business to services,” she said, noting that the line is targeted at high-end salons and will not be available only in salons that fall under the Wella Professionals umbrella. The product pricing — $40 to $70 — is decidedly in line with the prestige market. Treatment prices vary by salons.

Coty Professional Beauty would not disclose financial projections for the launch and maintained that the number of salons System Professional is going into is undetermined.

But Coty has been conducting tests of the new line and services in four salons since November — three in Los Angeles and Muze Salon here in New York. Godlove noted that the salons have seen an average of 50 percent growth in services since the tests began, and said clients take home on average about two products in the regimen.

And System Professional has already launched in the U.K., Ireland and France, where Godlove noted clients are also purchasing at least two System Professional products after a treatment.

The beauty of System Professional, according to Godlove, is that the EnergyCode system was designed to spark recurring salon visits, as clients are advised by their stylists that their EnergyCodes are subject to change based on season and environmental factors. “In the winter you might need more intense repair but in summer you might need something else,” said Godlove.

A digital campaign here is set to launch in April, but Godlove stressed System Professional is all about boosting the salon experience and expects marketing to happen by word-of-mouth from stylist to client.

“We see this as a big growth opportunity in prestige hair care — growing care in salons,” said Godlove. “Enabling a stylist to truly provide ultra-personalized results deepens a client’s relationship with a stylist, versus buying something off the shelf and online.”

Godlove noted that System Professional will expand to Canada soon after launching in the U.S. Next year, it will expand to Asia and more European markets.