Atlantic Coast Brands wants to be an equal opportunity hair growth marketer.
The maker of Keranique, a women’s regrowth system, is jumping into the men’s segment of the $3.5 billion hair loss and thinning business with a collection bearing the cheeky name Thick Head.
“Men’s hair loss is a much bigger market [than women’s],” said Andrew Surwilo, cofounder and co-chief executive officer of Atlantic Coast Brands. “We have produced what we feel will become the category leader.” Thick Head will be sold in chains like Rite Aid and CVS, as well as through the company’s direct-to-consumer options.
Atlantic Coast Brands has a solid track record with Keranique, which in nine years has amassed estimated sales of $70 million, and has expanded from direct-to-consumer only to major retailers including Ulta Beauty and CVS. Industry sources expect Thick Head can easily sail past $25 million in sales in the first year alone. Although he wouldn’t comment on projections, Surwilo said he expects Thick Head to be the company’s largest brand — and that takes into consideration the other nameplates in its portfolio such as Hydroxatone Anti-Aging Skincare, which he said registers sales exceeding $100 million.
Despite the fact men’s tresses are thinning — the American Hair Loss Association Hair Loss Association claims that by age 50, 85 percent of men will experience significant hair loss — retail sales of growth potions are stymied. IRI data for the 52-week period ended Dec. 2, 2018 shows dollar volume is flat with almost every leading brand in decline. Even the once red-hot Rogaine is losing ground with sales dwindling 4 percent for the period.
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“There is a lack of innovation,” said Surwilo. Compounding that, retailers noted competitive hair solutions such as surgery, ingestibles, hair tattoos and the growing popularity of shaved heads, siphon shoppers. With fertile opportunities, there has been a barrage of hair growth products infiltrating the market over the past five years including Nutrafol, Bosley, HairMax, Just For Men, Viviscal and Hims. The launches come at a time when the overall men’s market is a key focus for retailers and brands.
Thick Head is a system, rather than a one-item offer, including everything from a two-in-one shampoo and conditioner to daily dietary supplements. A starter kit, called Head Start, includes the shampoo/conditioner, a hair regrowth treatment with extra-strength 5 percent Minoxidil topical solution and a hair-thickening gel. Prices range from $9.95 for the shampoo and gel to $59.95 for the Head On Complete Care Hair Regrowth System, a three-step kit to address active hair loss and promote hair regrowth. “The starter kit is our gateway product and will be one of the most popular,” Surwilo said.
While many factors can result in hair loss, including age, genetics, hormones, inflammation, illness, medications, nutritional deficiencies, stress and environment, the likely cause is DHT (Dihydrotestosterone), according to Charlene Deegan-Calello, Atlantic Coast Brands’ vice president of product development. When testosterone is converted into DHT, she said, the DHT binds to the receptor of the hair follicle causing it to weaken, shrink and cease producing hair. “The only way to stop certain types of hair loss is to counteract the effects of DHT.”
Thick Head features a blend of DHT-fighters called 2X-DHT-Complex. The formulas are also free of sulfates, parabens and dyes. Surwilo said that although Thick Head was formulated for men who have different growth issues than women, he believes 80 percent of purchases will be made by women for males. “Women pay attention to ingredients.”
Although the concept was in the works for some time, Surwilo said it came to market swiftly thanks to the Thick Head brand team — a collective of employees from all departments from accounting to operations — who created the brand.
Despite the fact women will be the major purchaser, the marketing campaign behind Thick Head is firmly pitched at men — especially younger males as a way to get ahead of hair loss and avoid side effects associated with some products. “There is a difference in marketing to men. They are insecure about hair loss and often make self-deprecating comments. We are using humor to destigmatize the condition of hair loss, including the brand name,” Surwilo said. A video to introduce Thick Head explains DHT and makes references to sexual side effects of pharmaceutical options.