Framesi's new testimonial Laura Torrisi behind the scenes

MILAN — Italian hair firm Framesi is looking optimistically into the new year, hoping for 5 percent growth. The company, which celebrated its 70th anniversary in November, expected to close the year with revenues of about 27 million euros, or $30.6 million, up 8 percent, but had to lower the number to 26 million euros, or $28 million at average exchange rate.

“We closed with a growth of 6 percent and the main reason is that a couple of countries for different reasons didn’t perform as expected,” said Framesi’s president Fabio Franchina, naming South Korea, Russia and also the Middle East as trouble spots. “We had some markets in the Middle East suffer from the overall situation with Syria, so we expected more.”

He noted that the Americas business performed and that Europe was also satisfying, despite a downward trend in the company’s home country of Italy. According to Cosmetica Italia, the national association of cosmetics companies, the professional hairdressing business dropped 2.3 percent in 2015 and it expects the trend to continue in the first semester of 2016 with a decline of 2 percent.

“This is basically the seventh drop in seven years,” noted Franchina, also crediting the negative trend to the overwhelming number of hair salons in the country. “Eighty-five thousand salons are way too many for a population of almost 60 million. It’s impossible today.”

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He said women went to the hairdresser around 11 times a year before 2008 and now go just six times annually.

The hair firm also has been registering a shift to home-use products in the last six years, also fueled by the growing popularity of beauty bloggers and do-it-yourself Web sites. “I believe that the hairdresser remains the only expert on hair and if you have to make a major change like cutting or coloring your hair, at-home is not the best option,” Franchina said, adding that hair salons are changing the overall way of running their businesses to achieve higher customer satisfaction. “In the end, the customer needs to be happy; if not, they are going to find a new hairdresser.”

For 2016, Franchina expects no major changes economically, although he’s keeping an eye on the upcoming U.S. elections and said they could have an impact on the global economy.  To reach the goal of 5 percent growth, the company has set up an aggressive plan with new products and communication strategy.

“For the first time ever, we decided to use testimonials in order to be well perceived and better recognized by everybody, hairdressers and customers,” said Franchina, who stressed that the new testimonial is a representation of the classic Italian beauty with long dark hair. “I think it’s important that you have somebody that can show to the customers that the quality of the products is real.”

Starting from March, Italian actress Laura Torrisi will star in Framesi’s new ad campaign, which will be featured in Italian Vogue, as well as more traditional female magazines, which Franchina refers to as “getting to the real people.” In addition, a social media campaign will be rolled out, which will involve eight less well-known testimonials from Italian TV programs, but have a huge following on their social media accounts, especially Instagram.

“Facebook is fine, but we are in a world where the visual part is very important, so Instagram remains the most important communication element inside social media for hairdressers,” said Franchina, adding that for other social media tools such as Periscope and Snapchat it’s still a bit too early.

The new social and ad campaign will be accompanied by a number of new products, including the spring 2016 collection with new hair shades and additional elements to the brand’s Restructure line. Also a two-level lifting system will debut on March 1, which Franchina believes will turn heads. “You can lift two levels of the hair color in five minutes with any type of hair,” he said, adding that hairdressers will be able to give their personal touch with this technique.

Also in the pipeline is a hair-smoothing system that guarantees straight and frizz-free hair for six to eight weeks, without the use of formaldehyde, which according to Franchina is still used extensively in the U.S. and forces customers to sit through the treatment with face-covering masks and fans pointed at them. “It’s an expensive, long treatment, but absolutely clean and healthy,” he said, adding that Framesi will also touch the natural and organic segment later this year, but said it was too premature to reveal more information at this point.

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