COMBE SEEKING FAME IN 5 MINUTES
Byline: Chantal Tode
NEW YORK — Combe Incorporated hopes to repeat its success with Just For Men — a five-minute hair color — by bringing a similar product to the women’s market.
Just 5, Combe’s new hair color for women, has seven shades that purportedly work in five minutes. The abundance of women’s hair color brands require anywhere from 10 minutes to 40 minutes to work.
The new line will be on store shelves by June and each one-application box will retail for between $6.59 and $7.35.
“Women 35 to 64, our target audience, are time starved. They want to look terrific but they want something they can do in a short period of time,” said Dominic DeMain, senior vice president of marketing at Combe.
Combe’s Just For Men line is the fourth-best-selling hair color brand in the U.S., according to sales tracking firm Information Resources Inc., with retail sales of around $62 million in 1996. DeMain predicts Just 5 could reach the same volume within three years.
He added that he expects Just 5 will bring new users to the retail hair color category, which had retail sales of $997 million last year, according to IRI.
During Combe’s test marketing for the line, 21 percent of purchasers had never dyed their hair with a retail coloring brand before. Shoppers said the incentive to buy came from the product’s promise to color hair in only five minutes, according to DeMain.
Advertising for the line will begin July 1, with the campaign’s message centering on the claim that woman can achieve beautiful hair color in five minutes when they use Just 5. The campaign — which has a budget of around $17 million in the first year, DeMain noted — will consist primarily of TV spots during the first six months. It will be supplemented with print ads in women’s magazines in the following six months.
Additional promotional activity for Just 5 will include a freestanding insert in September newspapers and coupons inside all boxes of the product.
The models used on Just 5’s packaging don’t have the high-fashion look used by many other hair coloring brands, DeMain pointed out: “We wanted a look on the packaging that all women with gray hair would see and say, ‘Yeah, I can get that look.”‘
But Just 5’s promise to get the job done quicker isn’t enough to maintain women’s favor when it comes to beauty products, said DeMain. The challenge Combe faced was to develop a line that provides all the benefits found in hair color products from companies such as L’Oreal and Clairol, which have been addressing a variety of needs for years. Combe’s previous experience in developing products has been in the men’s arena, where demands are very different, said DeMain.
Just 5 is said to provide a light, sheer color that blends in with a woman’s natural hair color and provides highlights, explained DeMain; Just 5 doesn’t actually change the color of hair. “We found that many women don’t want to change the color of their hair as they develop gray.”
Sixty percent of hair color sales are for products that actually change the color of hair, according to DeMain, but they are generally targeted toward a younger age group than Just 5.
Just 5’s formula also purports to “fade on tone,” meaning it won’t cause a dramatic root line when a woman’s hair starts to grow out.
Women know more about the color of their hair than do men, said DeMain, which is why Combe developed a wider variety of shades for Just 5 than exists for Just For Men. DeMain said the company calculates that Just 5’s seven shades should meet the color needs of about 85 percent of women. The shades are Light Ash Blonde, Ash Blonde, Light Brown, Medium Brown, Medium Ash Brown, Dark Brown and Black.
The company is currently working on developing two new shades; one in the red family and a golden blonde. Together they should meet the needs for the remaining 15 percent of women, said DeMain.
Just 5 also has more conditioning properties than Combe’s men’s line, since women demand soft and manageable hair, said DeMain. It also has a floral scent.
Just 5, the company claims, is an entirely new kind of women’s hair color that it is calling permanent-demipermanent, because the color lasts for six weeks and doesn’t wash out. Permanent haircolors last for 6 to 8 weeks and don’t wash out, but they do change the color of hair and require 20 to 30 minutes to work. Demi-permanent hair coloring doesn’t change hair color but washes out over time.
Semi-permanent hair coloring works on only the outer layer of the hair shaft and washes out in 6 to 8 shampoos.