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Paul Mitchell Banks on Marula Oil

Though the company is certainly not the first to market with hair oil, it is hoping this month's release will be a standout.

Though John Paul Mitchell Systems is certainly not the first to market with hair oil, the company is hoping this month’s release will be a standout. Marula Oil, a five-product collection made from oil of marula tree kernels, launched this month.

In the past few years, argan oil-based Moroccanoil and its prestige rivals, including Alterna’s Bamboo line with kendi oil, have been much talked about in the hair-care industry. In 2013, Paul Mitchell cofounder John Paul DeJoria bought a large stake in Marula The Leakey Collection, a pure marula face oil. He asked the Paul Mitchell team to determine if they could build a hair-care collection around the ingredient.

“What this product will do is far above and beyond any other product in the professional hair-care space,” said Jason Yates, vice president of marketing for John Paul Mitchell Systems. According to the company, marula oil contains 50 percent more antioxidants than argan oil and is also rich in oleic acid, a naturally occurring moisturizer. The company also emphasized it only uses oil from the first cold press filtration, a process that leaves the oil at its most potent.

The five MarulaOil sku’s, Rare Oil Replenishing Shampoo, Conditioner, Intensive Mask, Treatment and Treatment Light, range in price from $25 for the shampoo and conditioner to $40 for the treatments, a substantial increase from other products produced by Paul Mitchell. The pricing strategy reflects the collection’s positioning. “For the typical Paul Mitchell consumer, the brand is positioned as affordable luxury. Marula Oil is positioned as a rare luxury. It’s more sought after,” said Yates. “We’re not expecting as big a penetration [as our other lines] — we’re aiming for a different type of user.”

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To drive that difference home, the company has left signature Paul Mitchell branding off the front of the packaging, choosing to only reference the manufacturer on the back of each product. “Obviously, Paul Mitchell is a renowned brand and is probably the most recognized brand in the professional hair-care space. But we think that hurts us a bit sometimes. The product is great, but it’s too available. For this target consumer, they would actually prefer the ingredient to be the hero rather than the brand everyone knows,” said Yates.

Marula Oil will be sold through the company’s network of distributors, with more than 30 thousand salons carrying the brand. The company declined to comment, but industry sources estimate Marula Oil could bring in $25 million in sales at retail.