Byline: Julie Naughton

NEW YORK — L’Oreal’s latest offering is ideal for men who are afraid of commitment.
To their hair color, anyway.
The company will begin shipping Casting ColorSpa for Men, a semi-permanent formulation, later this month. It is expected to be on counter by late May.
While L’Oreal began addressing the men’s hair color market last spring with Feria for Men, a four-stockkeeping-unit permanent hair color line, the new introduction marks the first male-specific, semi-permanent introduction for L’Oreal.
Carol Hamilton, deputy general manager of L’Oreal Retail, sees the deepening focus on men’s hair color as a natural progression.
“While the men’s hair care category has been growing rapidly for the past five years, it has really exploded in the last two years,” said Hamilton. “According to A.C. Nielsen, men’s hair color is the fastest-growing segment in the hair color category.”
According to the tracking firm A.C. Nielsen, the men’s hair color category did $130 million in retail sales at food, drug and mass market outlets for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 22, up 13.5 percent over the previous year.
L’Oreal first launched the Casting franchise in spring 1993 with a women’s version. That range began with 18 shades; two were added in May 1994 and three high-lift blond shades were added in fall 1997.
In spring 1999, L’Oreal relaunched the brand with an additional sku — 24 total — as Casting ColorSpa, in a move to reinforce the brand’s healthy lifestyle image. The women’s brand will add six new Casting ColorSpa shades later this spring.
Hamilton emphasizes, however, it would be a mistake to view ColorSpa for Men simply as a line extension. “It’s a product that has been developed completely from a man’s psychological and physiological need,” she said. The formula is also slightly different, reflecting the fact that men wash and cut their hair more often than women do, she said.
In fact, while the men’s line will initially be called Casting ColorSpa for Men in an attempt to tie into existing consumer awareness of the brand, the word “Casting” will be phased out within three to four months of launch, said Olivier Ceccarelli, assistant vice president of marketing for hair color.
And unlike Feria for Men, which is merchandised with its female counterpart in the women’s hair care aisles, ColorSpa for Men will be in the men’s grooming aisles.
The reason is the brand’s target consumer, said Hamilton. “That’s where this consumer would look for hair color products,” she said. “ColorSpa’s consumer is a health-oriented man in the 18-to-34-year-old age range. Feria for Men’s consumer, on the other hand, is a very fashion-forward 18-to-24-year-old who isn’t afraid of permanent hair color.”
Due to the lack of ammonia — ammonia is a component that allows radical and permanent hair color changes — ColorSpa’s formula is designed for men with less than 40 percent gray in their hair.
The line will be available in seven shades: black, darkest brown, dark brown, medium brown, light brown, dark blonde and light blonde.
The heavy emphasis on dark shades is intentional, said Hamilton. “Our research has shown that most of the men that would dye their hair using this type of technology tend to be using brown shades,” she said. “We wanted to make sure that the tonal qualities of the brown shades that we chose were extremely natural and never brassy.”
No further shade extensions are currently planned. “We’ll offer them if the demand is there, of course, but right now, we feel that we have a very comprehensive range with the seven shades that we are offering,” said Hamilton.
The product will be available in approximately 25,000 food, drug and mass market doors and will retail for $7.39.
While Hamilton wouldn’t reveal exact numbers, she said that she expects ColorSpa for Men to capture a 10 percent share of the men’s market. The company’s other men’s entry, Feria, reportedly has an 8 percent share of the men’s market.
Promotional efforts are still being planned. A print campaign is scheduled for May and June books, including Sports Illustrated and other men’s health and fitness publications. Television is under consideration, although none is yet booked, said Hamilton. She declined to comment on the collection’s promotional budget, although industry sources estimated that it would top $5 million.
L’Oreal will further link the fitness/hair color concept in men’s minds by promoting the color through three to four national health-club chains.
As part of the plan, selected clubs will offer educational materials and product samples beginning in June. The promotion will be ongoing, said Ceccarelli.
The focus on men will intensify later this year, said Hamilton. “L’Oreal is working on several exciting initiatives for men going forward,” said Hamilton. “When you view Feria and ColorSpa, it’s our way of starting a dialog and a relationship with these men that is far more important simply than their use of one individual product. We intend to build a very comprehensive grooming system for men over the years to come.” Although some components of this plan reportedly will be released this year, Hamilton declined to give additional details.

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