MILAN — Italian customizable hair care brand Shampora is celebrating its third anniversary by expanding its offering.
The company has added personalized hair coloring to its assortment of shampoo, conditioner, prime mask, leave-in and active water products, which consumers can customize upon filling a questionnaire online.
“Many of our customers were asking us about hair coloring during the first lockdown [last year], but it wasn’t in our plans and we were not ready for such a launch at that moment,” recalled Shampora’s founder and chief executive officer Manuel Corona.
“But after we received tons of similar requests from March to May last year, we launched a survey and collected useful data from 3,000 consumers, finding out how many of them dye their hair at home and discovering that half of the interviewees would have not returned to salons for such a service after the lockdown. So we decided to work secretly, with no rush, for nine months on this project,” Corona said.
In sync with the company’s philosophy, customers interested in the hair coloring kit are invited to fill a quick quiz of around 40 questions online, providing information on the state of their hair, desired result as well as insights on daily habits, nutrition and lifestyle, which all play a role in hair’s health.
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Shampora’s proprietary algorithm elaborates data and offers the users a shortlist of suggested colorations.
Launching on April 30 on the brand’s website and retailing at 16 euros, each kit includes a tube of hair coloring, a 20- or 30-volume developer as well as two to three boosters of concentrated active ingredients, which further customize the formulation adding beneficial properties to the treatment, for a total of more than 600 possible combinations available at the moment.
So far, the brand’s bestselling products are the shampoo and conditioner — frequently purchased together. With prices ranging from 13 euros to 27 euros, the brand particularly attracts a target aged 27 to 45.
Shampora intercepted a trend resonating with Millennials but increasingly gaining traction across all targets, as further proved by the success of competitors like customizable brands Function of Beauty and Prose.
Shifting the focus from the product to the person, putting consumers at the core of the experience has been the strength of the company. A personalized offer not only in content — breaking down to details like choosing even the scent of the formulations and its intensity — but also in packaging, as well as consumers’ interactive involvement in the creation process, check all the boxes increasingly requested by customers when approaching shopping experiences today.
Shampora’s intrinsic sustainable quality adds to these assets, as its tailor-made, post-order approach to production cuts waste and excessive stock that risks expiring.
These elements helped the company close a round of investment raising 3 million euros — coming at the end of a challenging year for the Rome-based firm, especially in terms of scaling up production.
Starting as a laboratory hand-manufacturing each product, Shampora kicked off its automatization process at the beginning of 2020. “Yet during the pandemic the shipment of the machineries we ordered was halted, so we had to assemble formulations and products by hand even at the peak of the demand,” said Corona, recalling that “at a certain point in the first half of the year, we had to temporarily stop selling products because it became a problem for us to manage 1,000 to 1,500 orders per day.”
The growth in demand and brand awareness throughout 2020 contributed to attract investors, which included CDP Venture Capital Sgr; Italian Angels for Growth; Finbeauty; Gisev Family Office, and LVenture Group.
Corona identified three other key drivers triggering these players’ interests. “First, I think they appreciated the team’s expertise, as it is made of people hailing from the beauty, tech and chemical industries,” he said.
To wit, Corona’s previous stint was at L’Oréal, where he had the opportunity to connect with hairdressers. But it was a personal experience that inspired the creation of Shampora: Not finding an appropriate product for his curly hair, Corona commissioned a customized shampoo to a chemical engineer. His peers liked the idea of having a tailor-made product and he understood there was an opportunity to bring the concept to a wider audience and fill a gap in the market. In launching the start-up in 2018, Corona was joined by Irene Gullotta, Francesco Rizzotti and Mirco Peragine, but today Shampora’s team counts more than 20 people — including chemists and tech experts — and it’s still expanding.
“I think technology is another asset attracting investors,” continued Corona. “Today, hair care products and direct-to-consumer brands are booming, and all of them try to narrate a story. But we added a technological element to our narrative, that not many others have. This is because customization is difficult and costly to implement and it requires many efforts under the tech and regulatory’s points of view. So being able to scale up personalization was a driving agent in closing this investment deal, for sure.”
The introduction of the subscription-based purchasing option last summer sealed the deal as it skyrocketed the company’s redemption rate.
The funds were used to further improve products and expand the distribution, specifically in Spain and France. After a rough start in trying to replicate the domestic success abroad, Corona honed his understanding of these markets in the last couple of months and orders started to come in, with France currently accounting for 15 percent of Shampora’s total sales, which the founder declined to disclose.
“We now aim to expand the distribution to all Europe by the end of the year, while product-wise, the goal is to widen the assortment, releasing a new drop every six months to ultimately have a well-rounded hair care offering that includes also styling products and options addressing specific conditions, such as hair loss,” concluded Corona.