NEW YORK – L’Oréal Paris is on a roll. On Tuesday, the division of L’Oréal USA announced it had signed Scarlett Johansson as a spokeswoman, slated to first appear in ads for its newest cosmetics launch, HIP. Now, the beauty giant is readying to roll out its 2006 hair color launch, one that’s designed for those looking for the truest match to their natural hair color.
Natural Match, as the new permanent, ammonia-free formula is called, uses Color-Calibrated technology to deliver dimensional, glossy and reflective tones, a challenge in the at-home hair color category.
“Hair color, which is used by almost 60 percent of women, has two key drivers. One is trends and the other is maintaining a natural look,” said Carol J. Hamilton, president and general manager of L’Oréal Paris.
While Natural Match aims to provide women with a true match to their natural color, perhaps most importantly it looks to demystify the hair color selection process. To choose the correct shade, users are asked to first identify their current hair color. Boxes are equipped with mirrors to guide those with a false idea of what their hair color actually is. The second step allows women to choose from four desired shades within their color range, one that’s either cool, natural, warm or red in tone. A Hydra-Gloss conditioner formulated with aloe vera is also included, as well as a new formula applicator.
Packaging, Hamilton added, “takes a real professional approach,” with comprehensive copy on boxes so consumers can understand their shade range options, explaining how cooler shades minimize red and orange tones, natural shades enhance natural tones, warm shades add gold highlights and red shades add sheer red tones to hair.
Hamilton said Natural Match will stand out from the sea of boxes within the hair color aisle simply because no other brand has developed such a technology and then presented it in such an easy way for the consumer to understand.
“No brand is organized like this. The technology allows the color to lift color one level and stay within the tone and shade level range. It’s a huge breakthrough,” she said.
Natural Match, which rolls out to food, drug and mass doors this spring, has a good chance of hitting a sales streak its first year on shelves: Consumers’ fascination with newness, combined with a stable economy and Hamilton’s estimate of 4 percent hair color sales growth, could mean a healthy launch. While L’Oréal would not comment on sales, industry sources anticipate Natural Match will generate $50 million in first-year sales.
L’Oréal is the leading hair color manufacturer, according to Information Resources Inc., with 41 percent dollar share, excluding Wal-Mart. It makes four of the top 10 best-selling hair color brands, including number one and two ranked Preference and Excellence.
Natural Match will be premium priced at $11.99, a price at least one retailer said was high for the category. “I think pricing needs to be reduced, everyone raised the bar and that drove some women away to the budgets brands. I just hope consumers continue to [buy hair color here]. I don’t want them to be priced out,” the buyer of a regional drugstore chain said.
He added he pulled out slow moving items from within the hair color set to make room for the line.
L’Oréal Paris is set to announce a spokesperson to represent the brand, as well as all of its beauty brands, later this month.