Byline: Julie Naughton

NEW YORK — Have a problem with commitment? The folks at Playtex Products would like to introduce you to their newest product.
7-Day Curls, which the company is marketing under its Ogilvie brand, is being touted as the industry’s first temporary home perm.
And that’s not a contradiction in terms, insists Ken Meeker, vice president of marketing for Ogilvie. “The difference is in the chemistry,” he said.
Most home perms, he explained, use a solution called ammonium thyioglycate to permanently bend the hair’s bonds into a new shape. The active ingredient in 7-Day Curls, ethanolamine glycol, is a much milder permanent solution and combined with a heavy dose of conditioners in this product, produces soft, natural-looking curls that soften each day.
“By day seven, you’re back to what you started with,” Meeker said. The product is suitable for regular and color-treated hair, but not for highlighted, bleached or frosted hair. The product is part of Ogilvie’s continuing focus on reviving the home perm business, said Meeker.
“Many people thought I was nuts when I told them that we were going back into perms,” he said. Playtex bought the 61-year-old Ogilvie brand in 1998. “Everyone said, ‘the perm market is going down 15 percent a year, and by 2007, you’ll have no business.”
Instead, said Meeker, the business has grown. “Home perms are now a $50 million-a-year business,” he said, adding that those totals were about $40 million a year ago.
Last year, Playtex introduced the Ogilvie Straightener, a mild home relaxer, which Meeker said “far exceeded plan.” And Meeker said that he expects sales of 7-Day Curls to beat Straightener.
“7-Day can be used every six weeks, where many other perm products can only be used every six months or so,” he said. “Not only do we think the temporary nature of this product will appeal to people, we also think that sales will be higher than other perm products because it can be used so often.”
Meeker believes the product will appeal to two major consumer groups: “Women who want to try a perm but who don’t want to commit to it permanently before they determine if they like the look, and those who are looking for a special-occasion look, like brides.”
7-Day Curls has a suggested retail price of $8.99 and will begin shipping in May. It is expected to be in full distribution by September, said Meeker, who said it will be sold by major mass market and drugstore chains, including CVS, Rite Aid, Osco, Wal-Mart and Kmart. Meeker wouldn’t talk numbers, but industry sources estimated that the product could do $4 million in its first year of release.
7-Day Curls will be promoted with print advertising in a to-be-determined lineup of October and November women’s and teen books. Industry sources that Ogilvie would spend about $1 million on advertising in the first year.

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