Byline: Andrea M. Grossman

NEW YORK — Out with the old in with the new.
That’s the strategy Laboratoires Garnier is taking to build its hair color business this year. In May, Garnier is launching Lumia Brightening Color Creme, a line designed to brighten hair color. Belle Color, however, a hair color line Garnier launched in 1996, will be discontinued. John Wendt, president of Maybelline/Laboratoires Garnier, described Belle Color as a line that “never clearly defined its core customer.” Lumia, on the other hand, targets a neglected market and is expected to generate first year U.S. retail sales of $70 million.
“Everybody is fighting out the battle of the permanent hair color that gives a major change and makes a dramatic statement. That’s why Lumia is totally new. Its positioning is completely different,” Wendt said.
Lumia targets the 35-and-under consumer who wants to enhance her natural hair color but does not want a dramatic hair color change. This consumer, according to Garnier research, represents two-thirds of women in the under 35 age group who currently color their hair. She is the woman who generally colors her hair within one level of her existing shade, aiming to make the most of what she has.
“Lumia is different from classic permanent hair colors today,” said Tom Dean, assistant vice president of Laboratoires Garnier. “We’ve developed a new technology that is designed to brighten hair, not dramatically change it.”
Lumia’s level 3 formula contains lower amounts of ammonia and contains floral extracts to help condition hair. Lumia offers 24 shades with an emphasis on brown, dark brown and black selections. Hair color names follow a flower theme, such as Ginger Petals for a golden/copper/brown shade and Blooming Berry for a red/mahogany shade.
Ketan Patel, general manager of Maybelline Worldwide, believes Lumia will appeal to women who have been dissatisfied with semipermanent hair color products.
“It is an entirely new type of hair color. It will attract new users into the category especially users of semipermanent hair color who up to now have been dissatisfied with results,” said Patel.
Lumia will occupy shelf space made available from the discontinuation of Belle Color. Sales of Belle Color, which targeted younger hair color consumers, peaked in its first two years and subsequently fizzled due to its unclear positioning.
Garnier’s team regards Lumia as the perfect complement to Nutrisse, the hair color in Garnier’s portfolio that infuses fruit extracts in its formulas and recently signed Sarah Jessica Parker as its spokesperson. Nutrisse, which launched in 1999, generated $45 million in U.S. sales last year, according to Information Resources, Inc.
Dean said packaging for Lumia was designed to capture “the shine and natural radiance of hair color.” Boxes are decorated with a pale blue background and bright flowers in full bloom.
“From a retail perspective it communicates that it is gentle and fresh. There is a brightness from the model’s attitude. It reflects the physical result a woman will get from the product,” said Patel. Boxes also feature a shade chart, which suggests the Lumia shade best for your natural hair type.
Lumia will retail for $6.99, the same price as Nutrisse, and will be supported by a $50 million advertising campaign. Ads are slated to break in July. Negotiations for a Lumia spokesperson are currently in the works.
Building brand recognition and credibility through a spokesperson is the key to Garnier breaking into the third spot for U.S. hair color sales, its ultimate goal. Revlon currently ranks third in hair color sales with $113 million in sales for last year, behind L’Oreal and Clairol, respectively. Garnier ranks fifth with $57.5 million.
The Garnier team hopes Lumia will prosper from a spokesmodel the way Nutrisse did when Sarah Jessica Parker ads began airing. According to Dean, sales of Nutrisse increased 30 percent in certain regions just three days after the first Parker ad aired. Despite the promise a spokesmodel may hold, Lumia still faces stiff competition this year in the hair color segment. Clairol Herbal Essences Hair Color and new hair color products by Revlon and L’Oreal are launching this summer.
“We can’t deny that it is going to be a competitive year, but the great thing about Garnier Lumia is its unique technology. When we look at the opportunity of this product, knowing that two-thirds of women under 35 are looking for the benefit Lumia offers, we feel very confident that Lumia has the greatest chance of success,” said Patel.