L’OREAL’S EXUBERANCE: HAIR AS FASHION
Byline: Cara Kagan
NEW YORK — Forget covering gray.
L’Oreal wants women to start thinking about hair color as a fashion accessory that can be changed on a weekly basis. And it wants to get them to start young.
Within the next two weeks the company will launch Exuberance, a temporary hair color aimed at women in their teens and early 20s who aren’t nearly old enough to think about masking the signs of aging.
“Our research has shown us that 5.9 million out of 24 million women aged 12 to 24 are coloring their hair,” said Carol Hamilton, senior vice president of marketing for the L’Oreal Hair Care Division. “It is projected that this user group will grow to 8.5 million in the next five years. That means there is an enormous opportunity for us to get in there with a product that speaks directly to them.”
Hamilton projected that Exuberance, which is designed to add shine and highlights, will capture at least 3 percent of the roughly $680 million retail hair color market this year, or about $20 million.
L’Oreal will back the brand’s introduction with $5 million in TV advertising that will kick off in late May. The campaign is a series of 15-second vignettes featuring young women speaking about their experiences with Exuberance.
The company will hand out about two million full-sized samples in targeted efforts, including college campuses.
Each of the 12 shades, which will be distributed in L’Oréal’s 25,000 mass outlets, will have a suggested retail price of $5.99.
To entice this segment of the population, L’Oreal gave Exuberance a mousse-like consistency, rather than the liquid or cream formulas used in many hair coloring preparations.
“Young girls are very used to styling their hair with mousses,” said Nina White, assistant vice president of hair color marketing. “We felt that if we wanted to encourage trial, we had to give them a product form that they were comfortable with.”
To appeal to the younger market, the shade intensities are somewhat brighter than products aimed at older audiences and can be customized for individual preference. Women who want more subtle highlights and shine are directed to leave Exuberance on for five minutes. Those desiring more daring results are instructed to wait 15 minutes.
“We wanted the color to be turned up a notch because we found that this age group really wants vibrant, shiny hair,” White said. “But we needed to make it mistake proof. This is probably the first time most of them are coloring their hair, and they are all scared to death.”
With the youth of the audience in mind, L’Oreal opted for a kicky canister instead of a box. The canister has bright graphics and a picture of a young woman with a playful expression on her face.
White noted that each application, which is designed to wash out after seven days, is intended to be gentle enough to the hair that consumers could use a different color each week, thus spurring multiple purchases.
“Over the last few years consumer perception toward hair color has undergone a dramatic change,” Hamilton said. “More women are using it as a cosmetic product to enhance their looks, rather than just thinking of it as a way of covering up gray. Exuberance is taking that trend to the next level. It is our way of making hair color more of an impulse item.”