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Madison Reed Brings Online Hair Color to Ulta

The online-born hair-color brand will enter 325 Ulta doors.

Madison Reed is taking its at-home brand of prestige hair color offline.

The hair-color brand will this week enter Ulta Beauty and — the first time Madison Reed’s permanent color product will be sold outside its direct channels. Until this week, and three-month-old root touch-up salon Madison Reed Color Bar were the only places consumers could get the four-year-old brand’s Radiant Hair Color Kits, which drive the majority of the business.

The rollout is sizable, with 325 Ulta doors now stocked with Radiant Hair Color Kits and Root Touch Up powder. The soon-to-launch Root Reboot, a liquid-to-gel color designed to cover smaller patches of gray in between permanent color and touch-up powder, will also be carried in 10 stores, to start, on Wednesday.

The specialty retailer will carry 14 shades of the $25 Color Kits — which include barrier cream, two sets of gloves, cleansing wipes, a protective cap, shampoo and conditioner, and an applicator — about a third of the 45 colors available on Founder and chief executive officer Amy Errett said in-store offerings span best-selling shades from blonde to black that are “the best for gray coverage.”

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“Instead of having eight medium browns, maybe there’s two,” Errett said of Ulta’s selection, which includes a few additional shades on “Some of that is us wanting to control the quality of the experience because giving too many choices in the store is [overwhelming].”

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Technology is key to the in-store experience, Errett noted, and taking elements from its online knowledge and referring to Madi, the color-matching chatbot originally launched late last year on to give recommendations to customers based on them uploading a selfie. The technology rolled out in the fall to give consultations online, and with Ulta, signage in store will direct customers to text “Hello” to a provided number.

“The color bot will match you right in the store; it’s part of the whole experience…,” Errett said, adding that the SMS service will ask the customer to send a selfie and answer a few questions to determine the right shade. “The immersion of the brand will be displayed next to the hair color. It is definitely a way for them [Ulta] to show digital expansion.”

The Ulta rollout follows the opening of the Color Bar, located on 19th Street in New York City’s Flatiron district, where clients can get their roots done in 45 minutes flat. Designed to complement the brand’s online offerings, Errett wanted to bring an in-person, speed-service element to the previously online-only venture. The brand’s full suite of products are offered, including Madi.

Errett declined to give retail projections for Ulta, but predicts the retailer will drive “substantial” business this year. She maintained that overall business doubled from 2015 to 2016 and is on track to do the same this year due to growth on, Ulta and in a smaller capacity, QVC and Sephora (which both carry Root Touch Up but not permanent color). Currently, the business is 90 percent direct and 10 percent wholesale, but Errett predicts that wholesale will constitute 30 percent of revenue in a year’s time.