PARIS — L’Oréal’s Professional Products division is working to bring consumers back into hair salons with a series of initiatives this year, including new treatments and products, especially in styling; extension of the Essie brand in professional channels, and advisory services for independent salon owners.

“We need to find the means to better touch women, to make them want to come into the salons with innovation and boost their image,” said L’Oréal Professional Products Division France managing director Vincent Mercier at a press conference here last week to announce the division’s domestic strategy for 2014.

He explained to WWD that the moves, which also feature an increasingly fashion-forward positioning, the use of spokesmodels for certain brands and digital initiatives, are mirrored in the company’s international markets.

French hair salons have seen their revenues flat or slightly down each year since the recession, Mercier said, with consumers increasingly spacing their visits.

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“Frequentation is weak, and the average spend per visit is 41.20 euros, [or $56.46 at current exchange], which is relatively low,” he said.

Mercier explained that shaping services — since the “perm” went out of fashion — as well as a decrease in demand for styling are among the factors explaining the decline.

“Only 30 percent of French people bought a styling product in 2013, compared with 43 percent in 2003,” Redken France managing director Olivier Fourreau commented.

Just 1.3 percent of styling products are bought in salons, he said, adding: “This is a segment that is slipping out of our hands.”

Boosting demand for styling products and services will be a key element for many of the division’s brands this year. Already in 2013, Kérastase launched its first styling range with Kate Moss as its spokesmodel, while L’Oréal Professionnel is currently rolling out the Wild Stylers range under its Tecni. Art subbrand, which will also get new, more modern packaging later in the year.

A campaign for Wild Stylers — a series of five products aimed at helping to create the on-trend messy hair look — is one of three to launch this year featuring Kirsten Dunst, L’Oréal Professionnel’s first spokesperson.

With Redken, the firm is using a similar strategy and began using street style icon Sky Ferreira to promote its styling range in January.


Matrix, meanwhile, will be repeating an initiative launched last year through which it offered an express chignon service to draw consumers into salons.


In shaping, L’Oréal Professionnel will in May launch a modern take on the “perm,” dubbed Beach Waves, to draw younger consumers to such services, a technical innovation that necessitates less application time than traditional shaping products and will be sold in a format that includes the service and a styling kit with a recommended price of 70 euros, or $95.93.

The brand will also launch Absolute Repair Lipidium, a hair-care line and 40-minute in-salon treatment protocol designed to repair damaged hair. “We are trying to bring new ideas to create additional revenues,” the brand’s managing director France Pascal Giliberti explained.

The Inoa ammonia-free hair colorant this month launches for the first time in a series of red shades, dubbed Inoa Carmilane.

L’Oréal sees the Essie brand as an additional opportunity for salon owners, too, with professional nail-care sales growing between 15 and 20 percent in France each year and lower price points and shorter service times key factors that can help to build revenue growth and bring in new consumers, Mercier said.

In May Essie will introduce Essie Gel the brand’s first gel manicure system, which it claims cares for the nail, to the European market. It launched stateside in October.

In a market where some 90 percent of hair salons are independent — with these only representing between 60 and 65 percent of revenues, according to figures from industry body Fédération Nationale de la Coiffure — L’Oréal is also helping independent salon owners bring their business up to date.

For 500 euros, or $685.23, the company is offering a “salon staging” service to them, including interior design advice and two days of renovation works.