SALON MARKETING GAINS SOPHISTICATION

Byline: Chantal Tode

NEW YORK — Well-worn marketing tactics borrowed from other retail channels continue to be reapplied to the salon industry as professional hair care manufacturers such as Matrix Essentials and Graham Webb search for ways of building consumer franchises in an increasingly competitive arena.
Retailing products in salons is a growing practice, according to industry executives, because selling hair care is more profitable than traditional services, such as hair coloring. As a result, manufacturers, looking to grab a share of the pie, are launching new lines at a frenzied pace.
Two new brands — Vital Nutrients from Matrix and Montage from Graham Webb — hope to stand apart from the competition with marketing strategies that borrow heavily from the prestige and mass markets, but are new to the professional industry.
Matrix, a Bristol-Myers Squibb division responsible for $350 million in wholesale business, introduced Vital Nutrients hair care to the industry in August. The line will be backed with a direct mail sampling promotion, a tactic used frequently in the mass market, said Robert Goehrke, senior vice president of marketing at Matrix. He cut his marketing teeth at Clairol, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s mass market hair care division.
“This hasn’t been done before in our industry,” said Goehrke. “Samples are usually in dump bins at salons, but we’ll send them directly to their homes via direct mail, which will be an incentive to drive them into salons.” The promotion will start up in the second quarter of 1998.
Vital Nutrients will also attempt to use clear packaging to its advantage, something Clairol accomplished with Herbal Essences.
Four out of the seven Vital Nutrients items come in clear bottles that allow a back panel illustrated with a collage of drawn shapes — the human body, a pyramid, hair strands and an apple — to show through.
The clear packaging is meant to help convey the line’s philosophy that hair care should be a part of an overall healthy lifestyle, said Goehrke.
The formulas, which combine organic amino acids, soy and vegetable proteins and starches from wheat and oat, purport to nourish the hair and make it more physically fit than it was before using the products.
Vital Nutrients’ shampoos, conditioners and styling aids are priced between $7.95 and $8.95.
A promotional campaign including print ads in magazines, such as People and women’s fashion publications, will break in December.
The company does not break out budgets, but industry sources estimate the Vital Nutrients ad budget at between $5 million and $10 million.
Vital Nutrients has the potential, said Goehrke, to reach the same heights as Matrix’s last major launch in 1991, Biolage, which now generates $400 million in sales. He said that he expects the line to be in 60,000 to 75,000 salons within the first 12 months of the launch.
Matrix will add six additional stockkeeping units to Vital Nutrients in the second quarter of 1998.
The Graham Webb company is also hoping to drive sales for its new line, Montage, with an unusual marketing campaign. The line has been available in high-end salons for the past month.
The company was founded in 1989 by Robert Taylor, known principally as the man behind Calvin Klein’s rebirth as a fragrance icon.
Montage is already in 8,500 salons and Taylor is expecting $16 million in sales from consumers and another $8 million from salon professionals within 12 months of launch.
Taylor took a page out of the marketing manual of Klein’s Obsession and Eternity fragrances when developing a plan for Montage.
“Our position is to be the Estee Lauder of the professional beauty industry,” said Taylor. “We come into salons with sophisticated marketing and help them to create the right environment to sell the product through, which is something I learned how to do in department stores.”
Graham Webb won’t be initiating a $15 million advertising campaign for Montage — such as Obsession had — but will use an extensive merchandising program to help salons create an upscale retail environment and promote Montage’s lifestyle image.
The merchandising tools developed by Taylor include an aluminum counter display, a coffee table book of photographs, a display cube, a pedestal display, post cards, fragrance sample brochures and retail bags. Photographs taken for Montage are heavily employed to reinforce the line’s lifestyle message, said Taylor, which is about being simple, open and honest.
Montage consists of six hair care and styling items, a scented candle and something unusual for a salon line — a unisex cologne. The fragrance is a combination of tangerine, bergamot, floral bouquet, pineapple, musk and sandalwood.
Each item is priced $10, except for the 2.5-oz. cologne, which is $25, and a $15 candle. The packaging consists of brushed aluminum and matte glass.
The line is targeted at salon-goers under 35 years old, who account for 25 percent of salon business, said Taylor.
It will also be supported with a print advertising campaign with ads running in In Style, Allure and other women’s magazines, as well as in trade publications.