L’Oreal Paris is looking to make its hair care business as relevant as its skin, hair color and cosmetics businesses.

Arriving in several weeks to mass retailers is EverPure, a hair care line targeting color-treated hair with formulas that are free of sulfates and other harmful ingredients that can lead to color fading. The line, which is estimated by industry sources to generate as much as $60 million its first year on shelves, would increase L’Oréal’s total hair care sales in the mass market by 30 percent. And, since there are only a few competitors at mass with a similar positioning (Vogue International’s Organix comes to mind), EverPure indeed meets an untapped need with a premium, heavily advertised option.

This story first appeared in the December 5, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“Hair colorers are often initially drawn to color care shampoos,” said Anne Talley, senior vice president of marketing for L’Oréal. But they usually switch to problem-solution regimens to help address their individual hair needs — at times at a cost to their color. EverPure has been designed to not only protect hair color for up to 32 washings, she said, but it’s formulated to work double duty by catering to different hair types, a characteristic L’Oréal executives said will differentiate it from others on the market, even professional brands.

EverPure uses five naturally derived surfactants that aim to create a rich lather experience, while masks and conditioners in the line feature UVA and UVB filters to protect color from the sun’s rays, said Talley. Formulas also contain silicones and cationic polymers for protection and conditioning, respectively.

EverPure offers a shampoo and conditioner option for three hair types: fine, dry and frizzy. Also for dry hair is a Moisture Deep Restorative Masque and a Leave-In Conditioner. For frizzy hair, EverPure offers a Smooth Deep Control Masque and a Smooth Frizz-Free Serum. Formulated for all hair types is an EverPure UV Spray. Products retail for $6.99 for shampoos and conditioners and $8.99 for treatment and style items.

Upscale, premium packaging is utilized in lavender metallic containers and tubes, and, for the first time, L’Oréal has coined the Hair Expertise trademark, following in the footsteps of Dermo-Expertise, the trademark that appears on L’Oréal skin care products.

L’Oréal has a 3.7 percent dollar share of the total $2.9 billion-dollar hair care and styling category (excluding Wal-Mart), representing $108 million, which includes the Vive Pro, StudioLine and Kids brands, according to data from Information Resources Inc. In comparison, industry sources track L’Oréal’s skin, hair color and cosmetics brands at more than $1.3 billion in sales in the U.S. (including Wal-Mart), with hair color at about $530 million, skin care at around $249 million and cosmetics at approximately $560 million.

Overall performance for the hair care, styling and treatment categories are down collectively, with a 5 percent decrease in unit sales and a 2 percent drop in dollar sales, according to IRI data, excluding Wal-Mart.

The hair care category, indeed, could use a boost. But lackluster sales aren’t a result of the economy, said Talley, but are rather due to a lack of innovation.

“It’s not like in 2006, where there was a 7 percent increase because there was so much innovation,” said Talley, recalling that year saw Vive Pro and Herbal Essences relaunched and Unilever’s Sunsilk U.S. debut. “They broke the rules and shook up the market. This [sulfate-free] concept is new for mass, and I think the market needs some shaking up.”

L’Oréal will significantly support the launch with about $30 million in TV and print ads featuring spokesmodel Eva Longoria Parker, as well as sampling, Internet and public relations efforts, according to industry sources. L’Oréal also will leverage hair care expert Christophe Robin, a colorist who serves as a spokesperson for the L’Oréal hair color business.

On-shelf positioning will be different for EverPure: The new range will be merchandised alongside other professionally positioned mass brands, including Nexxus and John Frieda. In other words, EverPure will not appear alongside Vive Pro or other mass brands, such as P&G’s Pantene and Clairol’s Herbal Essences.

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