V05 AIMS TO MENDS, DEFEND AND STRAIGHTEN
Byline: Andrea M. Grossman
NEW YORK — Alberto-Culver isn’t taking anything for granted. The salon owner and maker of VO5 hair care products may have just announced a record-breaking fiscal year, but the company is kicking off 2001 with two new goals that include building VO5’s international appeal and making VO5 the first brand consumers think of when they need to condition their hair.
In mid-February, Alberto-Culver is addressing its conditioning goal by launching a dual-purpose conditioning and protecting product seven years in the making, called Mend & Defend. Fueled by market research revealing that many women use two separate products for conditioning and protecting, Alberto-Culver formulated Mend & Defend to not only condition hair but to protect it from harmful elements, such as UV rays. Used as a daily rinse-out conditioner, Mend & Defend “lubricates the hair shaft and also has a UV shield to protect hair from the sun,” said Jackie Bathery, VO5 product manager. “It will leave hair 60 percent stronger.”
Mend & Defend’s patented formula is designed to keep silicone in suspension, according to Chuck Warren, senior director of global hair care, which allows it to condition hair without leaving a greasy texture.
On the global-brand-growing front, Alberto-Culver is for the first time bringing an internationally formulated and marketed product to domestic doors. VO5 Straight Hair, which launched in the United Kingdom in early 2000, will appear on U.S. shelves this month.
Why such a late entry into the straight hair trend?
“We spent a lot of time looking at the competition. We wanted a formula that as you brushed your hair, would keep hair straight and not make it greasy,” said Warren. To achieve that, Alberto-Culver used “enough silicone so that after the hair was brushed the silicone would evaporate,” Warren added, who noted that the formula tested very well in salons. Applied to wet hair, Straight Hair “changes hair configuration while it is dry with no harsh chemicals,” added Bathery.
Straight Hair symbolizes Alberto-Culver’s first attempt to transfer lab technology from one R&D facility to a different region’s marketplace. The hope is to push the integration of R&D findings into one worldwide operation, which will allow the exchange of information at annual meetings.
While some companies use international launches as a testing ground for new products to insure a flawless domestic launch, Alberto-Culver executives said they got the formula right the first time. Only packaging and advertising will change for the domestic launch this month.
Both products join Alberto-Culver’s line of conditioning and styling products, which were launched last year. The line, of which the two new products will represent more than half of sales, will generate approximately $10 million to $12 million in 2001, according to Dan Stone, vice president of corporate communication. They will retail for approximately $4.99 each. The two products also target factors outside Alberto-Culver’s agenda.
“Time and time again [consumers] think about VO5 as the conditioning expert. We want to be sure we offer a full spectrum of products for their needs,” Stone added.