Byline: Andrea M. Grossman

NEW YORK — Clairol’s answer to the conditioning trend in hair care is intense — Intensive Blends that is.
Under its Herbal Essences brand — which now offers skin care, lotions and candles — will be an eight-stockkeeping-unit line of extra-conditioning shampoo, conditioners and hair treatments. The Herbal Essences Intensive Blends collection, which rolls out April for sale in May, will be premium priced at $4.99, nearly $1.70 more than original Herbal Essences hair care products.
According to Larry Lucas, group product manager for Herbal Essences hair and skin business, a market structure study performed in 1998 by Clairol revealed “a huge need gap” in regard to hair conditioning by female consumers. Although Clairol’s original line of Herbal Essences has been hugely successful, “women don’t necessarily think of Herbal Essences as a conditioning product,” Lucas said.
Herbal Essences Intensive Blends addresses three different hair types with three benefit-specific shampoos and conditioners. There’s Moisturizing Shampoo & Conditioner for Normal Hair; Replenishing Shampoo & Conditioner for Dry Damaged Hair, and Protecting Shampoo & Conditioner for Colored/Permed Hair. Lucas described the pumped-up formulas as extremely “rich and pearlescent” with an intense fragrance that can be experienced even before the container’s cap is unscrewed.
Corresponding conditioners are also offered and two treatment sku’s round out the Intensive Blends line. There’s Intensive Blends Conditioning Balm, as well as Intensive Blends Creme Leave-in Conditioner, Herbal Essences first leave-in treatment.
Lucas isn’t concerned that Herbal Essences’s current customers will switch to the new Intensive Blends brand. Instead, he believes a large amount of Intensive Blends customers will come from “new users to the brand, those who haven’t tried Herbal Essences because they’ve been looking for product with a conditioning benefit.”
Intensive Blends will be supported by a TV and print advertising campaign which will break in May and June, respectively. Lucas would not provide specific details on the campaign, but he did confirm Intensive’s theme “will be within the context of the experiential element that has been so successful for Herbal Essences.” Lucas is referring to the attention Herbal Essences received in 1996 in response to TV spots that featured a woman in an airplane lavatory experiencing various states of jubilation while washing her hair.
The conditioning craze can be traced back to the late Nineties, shortly following a surge in hair color sales in 1998. In 2000, several companies focused on conditioning sku’s and lines. John Frieda, for example, launched Emergency Treatment Leave In Conditioning Spray in February, Physique rolled out Spiral Conditioner in May and Revlon introduced Hair Treatment, a line of shampoo and conditioners dedicated to conditioning hair, in September. Recently, Redken signed teen pop star Jessica Simpson to represent its two-year-old conditioning line of hair care products, All Soft. The conditioning trend has laid the groundwork to support Intensive’s higher price point, and, as Lucas pointed out, so will the belief that you get what you pay for.
“We tested several price points and in this particular instance the higher price increased purchase instance. It reinforces [the notion] that if it costs a little more it must be worth it,” Lucas said.
Packaging for Intensive was designed to be more upscale. The 12-oz. container is pearl white and bears the Herbal Essences seal — tennis-ball size — on the bottle’s front.
While Lucas declined to comment on Intensive’s first-year sales and ad budget, industry sources estimate the new conditioning line could generate $35 million its first year on shelves, backed by a $15 million ad campaign.

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