In the wake of rapid sales increases, direct-to-consumer custom hair color brands are courting a new demographic: men.
Madison Reed and eSalon have each expanded into men’s hair color, with Madison Reed Mr. and Colorsmith, respectively. The launches come after both companies saw increased hair color sales following coronavirus-related salon closures.
For Madison Reed, the idea had been in the works for roughly a year, although the pandemic’s effect on sales led the company to accelerate the project. Madison Reed chief executive officer Amy Errett said the company has an organically high customer-retention rate due to the subscription model, adding that she expects consumer interest in home hair color to outlast the pandemic.
“We had a lot of women asking for their significant others whether we had men’s hair color, and there were so many men reaching out,” she said, adding the company has had male clients before the debut of the men’s line.
Errett also saw opportunity also in the rise of the quarantine beard, where many men see grays first, she said. The formula for Madison Reed Mr., which officially launched on June 30, is intended to offer moderate, demipermanent coverage. “More pepper, less salt,” Errett said.
Errett sees the men’s hair color line eventually accounting for 15 percent of the business — no small feat, considering at the height of the pandemic, Madison Reed saw new customer volume increase of 12 times, and sold a hair color kit every five seconds, the brand said. Errett predicts the company’s top line for 2020 will be more than double that of 2019.
The direct business’ profitability doesn’t spell the same for the brand’s color bars. Madison Reed’s salon business, which now counts 17 locations with plans to expand to 27 by the end of 2020, isn’t turning a profit yet due to the upfront investment in building a salon, further accentuated by salon closures, Errett said. She added that Madison Reed’s salons break even after roughly six months of being open. Regardless, her business model has attracted more than $134 million in VC funding to date, Errett said.
Over at eSalon, men are also becoming a priority customer.
There, men make up between 2 and 4 percent of customers, according to Graham Jones, ceo of eSalon and brother brand Colorsmith, which launched June 25.
Jones said creating a separate experience for men was imperative to servicing a different consumer need. “Men don’t necessarily want other men to know that they’re coloring their hair, whereas with women it’s more accepted,” he said, and are looking for a more natural look with fewer gray hairs.
The Colorsmith launch comes on the heels of a big uptick in sales. In April, eSalon saw six to seven times their normal order volume, and while things have slowed down slightly, the business is still seeing two times more new customers and a 20 to 30 percent increase in customer retention, Jones said. For 2020, revenue is expected to double, he added.
Colorsmith also plans to open a salon in London by the end of 2021, Jones said, although the company is focusing on the digital piece for the time being, and hoping to maintain a place in consumers’ hair color routines post-pandemic. “We view ourselves as educators, and we’re in the DIY category,” he said. “That doesn’t mean customers won’t go back to a salon, but it doesn’t mean that at-home salons will go away, either.”
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