P&G LAUNCHES UPSCALE HAIR LINE

Byline: Laura Klepacki

NEW YORK — Procter & Gamble has concluded that price is no object when it comes to hair care, so the company will roll out its costly Physique hair styling line in January.
So sure is P&G that drugstore shoppers will be willing to spend $7 to $10 apiece on Physique’s 24 stockkeeping units that it is backing the launch with a $110 million advertising budget and has projected annual sales of $200 million, according to sources.
P&G executives declined to discuss advertising budgets or sales projections.
“We believe Physique has the potential to be one of our core beauty care brands,” said A.G. Lafley, president of global beauty care at P&G, in a statement.
The line made its debut last year in Wichita and Little Rock drug and discount stores. One retail participant said the line reportedly did well in Target, but poorly in Wal-Mart stores. In his drugstores, “it was so-so.”
With Physique, P&G hopes to snip away at salon brands by bringing technologically advanced products to the mass market. A big part of its effort will include in-store educational materials and display fixtures to create an area called the “Style Zone,” where all items will be merchandised together. Consultants, referred to as “style techs,” will also be on hand during the launch to answer consumer questions.
The collection of shampoos, conditioners, gels, mousses, creams, lotions, pomade and sprays is divided into five systems, with each promising a unique result, such as “Intense Moisturizing” or “Volumizing.”
By grouping all Physique items together, rather than in specific shampoo or conditioner sections as is typically done, P&G hopes to eliminate confusion for customers. “Reinventing the shelf will be vital in helping consumers get the products they want,” said Jane Wildman, general manager for Physique.
Even if customers find the item they want, the issue remains whether they will double what they typically spend on drugstore shampoo.
Said one buyer, “Think about the difference in the retail. It is $7.99 for a shampoo. Pantene is $3.69; it is a lot more.”
However, industry consultant Allan Mottus said that those are current suggested retails and it is likely prices would come down.
If Physique does find a following, it could be a boon for retailers as shoppers move to a higher price point. But for other manufacturers, in a category where consumption doesn’t expand, cannibalization is inevitable.
TV spots for Physique, expected to break in January, are described as educational, yet attention-getting, showing a range of hair styles that can be achieved using Physique, according to sources. Reportedly the P&G ads tell consumers: “You can now have the hair nature never intended you to have.”