Byline: Chantal Tode

NEW YORK — Hair could soon be big again after a year of flat sales.
Industry experts predict higher growth in hair care this year amid a flurry of activity, including product launches or new brand initiatives from major players like Procter & Gamble and L’Oreal, as well as high-wattage marketing campaigns from a wide range of sources.
Hair care sales in 1996 lacked the previous year’s glory, when hair coloring, shampoo and conditioners all posted higher-than-usual sales increases.
Mass market shampoo sales decreased 1.5 percent to $1.45 billion in 1996, and conditioners, at $803 million, posted a meager gain of 0.8 percent, according to tracking firm Information Resources Inc. Hair coloring gained 3.6 percent to reach $997 million, after posting an 11.3 percent increase in 1995.
The exception was styling aids, which had a greater increase in 1996 — 1.1 percent, to a total of $420 million — than in 1995, when it edged up 0.6 percent.
Despite the sluggish results, executives at many mass market firms are optimistic about what the right combination of technology and marketing can accomplish in hair care.
They’ve watched alpha-hydroxy acids single-handedly turn skin care into a cutting-edge category after years in the doldrums.
They’ve also seen what less-harsh formulas and high-profile advertising have done for hair coloring, the fastest-growing hair care segment for the past two years. The time is right, they say, to repeat the formula for shampoos, conditioners and styling aids.
“All indications are that 1997 is going to be a heck of a year for hair care,” said Victor Bellino, hair care category account executive at P&G. “As better technology, advertising and education come to the marketplace, we are selling more products to the same consumers, and the category will grow.”
Clairol, Freeman Cosmetics, Helene Curtis and John Frieda are all reportedly increasing advertising expenditures in 1997. In some cases, the bigger ad budgets are a result of being acquired by a company with deeper pockets.
In the past couple of years, for example, Helene Curtis was picked up by Unilever, Alberto-Culver purchased St. Ives and Johnson & Johnson acquired Neutrogena.
Catching the consumer’s eye isn’t the only reason hair care suppliers are turning up the advertising wattage. They also recognize the need to curry the trade’s favor, an increasingly difficult feat, most agreed, given extensive retail consolidation.
Without large advertising budgets behind a line, it’s hard to convince the retail community of commitment and staying power, vendors say.
Revlon and Avon are expected to further heat up the competition when they announce major hair care initiatives later this year.
Pantene Pro-V, the mass market’s number-one-selling shampoo and conditioner — $226 million and $118 million, respectively, in 1996 — will have news in 1997, said Procter & Gamble’s Bellino. It will be the brand’s first since several line extensions were added in 1995.
Declining to be specific, he did say that adding products “is definitely what we found works to add growth to business.”
“The first order is to grow our styling business,” he said.
On Thursday, Helene Curtis announced an extensive, new marketing campaign behind an all-new Finesse that has country star Lyle Lovett singing about “hair so beautiful it has to be touched” in TV commercials.
Finesse, once a powerhouse brand, lost 16.5 percent of conditioner sales and 9.3 percent of its shampoo sales in 1996, finishing out the year at $35 million and $53 million, respectively. Helene Curtis hopes a top-to-bottom makeover can turn the situation around. Besides the power of a celebrity, Finesse is receiving new packaging, formulas and products, but prices are remaining the same, at $3.49 each for the line.
Hydrating silk proteins have been added to the formulas of existing shampoos and conditioners for what the company calls the extra benefit of smoothing and improving the hair cuticle, while continuing to “adjust” to meet hair needs — the hook that Finesse has always been sold on.
The brand’s new Deep Fortifying Conditioner, in a 15-oz. bottle, is targeted to consumers with weak or severely damaged hair and purportedly works in three minutes. A Leave-In Conditioner is meant to detangle and defrizz hair without weighing it down. It comes in a 10.5-oz. spray bottle.
A teaser TV campaign about the new Finesse has been running for the past month; a full-fledged campaign launches Feb. 10 with two 30-second TV spots featuring Lovett. Print ads will begin appearing in March issues of beauty, fashion, entertainment and lifestyle magazines, and an extensive sampling program is planned.
L’Oreal also wants to strengthen its image by loading up on protein. This month, it unveils Body Vive with protein and Ceramide-R, the first extension of the Vive brand since Forta Vive was added in 1995.
The complete lineup includes Hydra Vive, Perma Vive and Color Vive — the line’s bestseller.
Body Vive’s formula combines Ceramide-R and protein to add body to fine hair. The line consists of a Volumizing shampoo, Thickening shampoo, No Weight conditioner and Add-In Body and will be available in April. All items cost $3.49 and come in 13-oz. bottles.
Clairol enjoyed strong growth in 1996 based on the strength of the Herbal Essences brand, said Steve Sadove, president, Bristol-Myers Squibb Beauty, which includes Clairol.
According to IRI, Clairol gained 35.6 percent sales in styling aids to reach $22 million, 66.5 percent in conditioners, hitting $33 million, and 66.1 percent in shampoos, topping out at $55 million.
“Advertising has been very successful for us, and we are going to continue to increase the budget. You will see double-digit increases in 1997 over 1996 in advertising dollars,” said Sadove. Sadove places Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Alberto-Culver in the number one, two and three positions, respectively, ahead of Clairol.
In January, Clairol introduced Frizz Control to address the needs of women with frizzy hair. The five-step regimen is meant to smooth hair every step of the way and includes a 12-oz. Hydrating Shampoo, 12-oz. Taming Conditioner, 2-oz. High Gloss Hair Serum, 4-oz. Taming Balm, 8-oz. Restructurizing Mousse and 5-oz. Defrizz Refresher & Shiner. All items retail for $4.49 except for the hair serum, which is $7.69.
It will be backed by 15-second TV spots targeting women from 14 to 34.
Frizz Control takes on John Frieda’s Frizz Ease, which is estimated to bring in an annual wholesale volume of about $23 million. Sources say Frieda is stepping up its advertising efforts for the line in 1997, spending more than $4 million on TV advertising and another $100,000 for print ads.
Hair care companies are also looking to help the styling aids category continue its momentum, saying there is room for growth because many women still don’t use styling aids.
A couple of hair care companies are banking on products with one foot in the conditioner segment and one foot in styling aids.
In the fourth quarter of last year, L’Oreal introduced The Feel, which the company says provides texture and manageability like a conditioner and light control like a styling aid. It’s the first new product in what will be a new segment of the company’s Studio Line brand, called Senses.
Studio Line was the best-selling styling aids brand in 1996, according to IRI, with mass market sales of $42 million.
Further blurring the line between conditioner and styling aid is Aussie DewPlex from Redmond. Introduced last month, it is said to be a two-in-one conditioner and fixative and comes in an 8-oz. bottle costing $6. Redmond will reportedly spend around $2 million on print advertising to support DewPlex.
Redmond aired its first TV advertising last year, supporting its corporate image as a “family company,” and will repeat the campaign this year.
Helene Curtis is also betting new technology will buoy Salon Selectives styling aids. While losing shampoo and conditioner sales last year, the brand posted a 15.9 percent gain in styling aids, according to IRI.
Last month, Helene Curtis added two styling products to the line. Air Infused Styling Foam is a liquid that turns into a foam via a non-aerosol dispensing system. It provides the control of a gel and the even distribution of a mousse.
The second new item, Smoothing Gel, has a lightweight formula to smooth and straighten unwanted curls, leaving a glossy finish.
Both are priced at $2.49 and come in 7-oz. containers. Advertising will begin in April, with print ads supporting both products and TV advertising featuring the foam.
All the existing Salon Selectives styling products have been updated as well, with translucent packaging, flip-top instead of twist-off caps, and new formulas that include ingredients that the company says help prevent damage from styling and the environment.
Last year, Alberto-Culver completed the purchase of St. Ives and started a new product development division called Cortexx Laboratories. In 1997, its efforts will bear fruit.
St. Ives will bring Alpha Hydroxy Silk Pro-Vitamin Retexturizing shampoo and conditioner to retail shelves in March.
The new entry translates what has proven to be a successful ingredient in skin care products — alpha-hydroxy acids — into a two-step hair care system, packaged together in 15-oz. containers for $3.99. The shampoo uses alpha-hydroxy acids to remove buildup, while in the conditioner, they supposedly add shine and reduce frizziness.
Alberto executives say Cortexx’s sole purpose is to give it an edge in research and development, a key element of hair care giants like P&G and Helene Curtis.
Cortexx shampoos and conditioners, the new division’s first entry, are designed to reduce breakage and splitting with a formula that contains gelatin, an ingredient popular with women for strengthening nails.
It will be backed by a $10 million TV ad campaign beginning in April.

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus