Ouidad was ahead of the curl curve.
The brand, established when founder Ouidad opened the first salon catering exclusively to curly hair in 1984, is using a growing curl market to increase business.
According to Pierre Lampert, chief executive officer of Ouidad, the company is on track to do $35 million in sales this year, a 20 percent lift from 2016. In addition to a revamped e-commerce site, he expects the newly launched Advanced Climate Control franchise — an update of the brand’s best-selling Climate Control collection that launched in 1999 — to contribute to growth. Advanced Climate Control products account for 22 percent of the overall business, but thanks to new formulations and the addition of two products to the line (one launched in April and another will bow in the fall), the range can soon drive a quarter of all sales, he said. Also, a deal with L’Oréal USA’s SalonCentric will see Ouidad’s distribution in salons jump from 1,000 doors to about 3,000 doors over the next 18 months.
“For the last five years…[there is a] growing number of women who want to embrace natural curls and that’s why the market is dynamic.…[It] explains why players like Bumble and bumble and Kerastase have launched curl products,” said Lampert, noting that Ouidad’s revenue is equally split among salons, ouidad.com and wholesale partners such as Ulta, sephora.com and Beauty Brands. “It’s consumer demand and more women who want to wear their curls naturally. The market has more value.”
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Lampert credited the brand’s strength to a singular focus. Ouidad doesn’t lump all curly hair into one product line or formulation.
Ana Divinagracia, head of marketing at Ouidad, agreed. Competitor brands have a “generic” curl category, she pointed out, but Ouidad’s range is specifically formulated to address four curl types: loose, classic, tight and kinky.
“Lived-in natural hair is the look everyone wants [now] and people spend less time changing their hair texture. I think it’s a cultural movement, and the landscape of the American population has changed over the past few decades,” Divinagracia said of the two reasons for renewed interest in the category.
This segment of the market is well-versed in ingredients and textures, making the curly consumer more knowledgeable when it comes to product than any other hair type, according to Divinagracia. And they want to talk about it, she added, which has given way to a community of curly-haired women with shared interests in styling and product. Today, there are chatrooms, events and even curly-haired influencers on Instagram that bring this group of consumers together — and that couldn’t have existed before the Internet, and especially social media.
Also, women with curly hair just use more product. Divinagracia said this customer uses three times more product than those with straight hair and spend over two times more on hair products than people with non-curly hair.
“There is a premium for new products on the market because for them [consumers], it’s hard to find exactly the regimen that works… because there are so many different curl types.…[There are] a few brands only talking curls,” Lampert said.