NEW YORK — John Frieda, the hairstylist who solved the world’s frizz problem, is getting ready to turn hair care on its head, once more, by carving out a new category: color glazing.

Plucking the concept from salons, John Frieda Professional Hair Care, owned by Kao Brands, has formulated its move, Luminous Color Glaze, to deliver the same results as a professional hair gloss service — ultimate shine, added color and silky, smooth hair. By offering the equivalent of a salon procedure at a fraction of the price, Frieda seems to be turning the tables on the professional channel, which has siphoned business from mass retailers selling at-home hair color products.

“John Frieda could possibly see this product set a new course [for the overall hair care category],” said Chanda Rowan of the market research firm Mintel.

Billed as “cosmetics for hair,” Luminous Color Glaze seems designed to help retailers court and reconvert the growing legions of consumers who have defected from the category, leaving a soggy hair care business and fading hair color sales in their wake as they head to salons. Total mass market sales of the $1 billion hair color category are predicted to drop 15 percent at constant prices from 2004 to 2006, according to Mintel.

“The hair color segment is really suffering due to lack of innovation,” noted Rowan. “We haven’t seen a superior innovation since [L’Oréal] Féria.” She added that the growing trend of color-enhancing shampoos, such as John Frieda’s Brilliant Brunette, has challenged hair color sales, as well.

Kline & Co.’s industry manager, Carrie Bonner, agreed: “Special-effect products like this are the key areas of growth” in a category that needs new users.

That said, across the aisle, shampoos and conditioners have fared slightly better, inching up single digits over the last year. For the most recent 52-week period ended Sept. 4, market-wide sales of shampoo increased 1 percent to $1.2 billion in food, mass and drugstores, excluding Wal-Mart, according to Information Resources Inc. Sales of conditioners were better off, experiencing a 4.2 percent gain for the period.

While Kao’s glaze is designed to enhance hair color, it will be sold alongside John Frieda shampoos and conditioners, and steer clear of the highly competitive hair color aisle — the province of L’Oréal and Procter & Gamble’s Clairol.

This story first appeared in the October 14, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

For their part, L’Oréal and Clairol have attempted to revive sales by introducing products intended to prolong the time in between women’s salon visits. For instance, last spring, Clairol launched Nice ‘n Easy Root Touch-Up, which was positioned to appeal to both at-home hair colorists and salon loyalists. Since its introduction, the kit has generated $12.7 million in retail sales (excluding Wal-Mart), according to IRI. Like Root Touch-Up, Luminous Color Glaze also may help prompt salon goers to explore mass retailers’ hair care aisles once again by offering a popular salon treatment.

The glaze, which took two years to formulate, is not a shampoo or a conditioner, but rather an in-shower hair treatment to be used after the conditioning step. The gel-like liquid is applied to wet hair, left on for three minutes and rinsed out. Luminous Color Glaze will be available in stores March 24, and sell for a suggested retail price of $9.99 each. A gloss treatment at the John Frieda Salon in Manhattan costs approximately $100.

If successful, Luminous Color Glaze could generate an inestimable amount of sales in the years to come, as imitators are sure to follow suit, Kao Brands executives said.

“I don’t think anyone could have gauged how big teeth-whitening was going to be, or how big the skin-glow category was going to be. When you are innovative, how high is high?” said John Frieda’s Brigitte King, vice president of marketing, when asked what the new product’s sales potential is.

While she would not comment on sales estimates, industry sources said Luminous Color Glaze could generate as much as $40 million its first year on shelves.

One retailer, who had not been presented details of the launch, said it “is unlikely the item will turn the category around, since hair care has experienced a couple of very soft years,” but that it really depends on how John Frieda will support Luminous Color Glaze and get its message out.

King assured that the line will be treated as a “tier-one launch,” complete with TV and print advertising in April. It also is likely that, if larger competitors, namely Procter & Gamble, look to offer a glaze item, more awareness will be brought to the segment.

A color glaze, also known as a color gloss, is a procedure used on colored and nonchemically treated hair to boost shine, color and texture. It has become a salon must, said Sharon Dorram-Krause, creative consultant for John Frieda, and a celebrity colorist at one of John Frieda’s two Manhattan salons.

“I use it as a device to give the hair more shine. It’s not even offered — it’s recommended because it improves the hair texture. That is the big problem with hair color, the texture of the hair changes. It’s also good for someone who may have a few gray strands,” Dorram-Krause said. Glazing has been a salon mainstay for at least 10 years, and has been tweaked and refined to offer better conditioners.

In consultation with salon professionals such as Dorram-Krause and Kao Brands hair care experts, Luminous Color Glaze contains “color-illuminating technology, a patented blend of mild dyes and shine enhancers to penetrate the hair cuticle via a proprietary delivery system without heat or need for an extended period of time,” said Michelle Messina, brand manager of Customized Care Collection. The glaze imparts a burst of shine, thanks to silicone, a hint of color and smooth hair, Messina said. For best results, Messina recommends using the glaze a minimum of three times a week. There are six Glaze shades: two for blondes, platinum to champagne and honey to carmel; two for brunettes, amber to maple and chestnut to espresso, and two for redheads, brighter, vivid red and deeper, rich red.

Robert Squeri, Kao Brands’ creative director, said bottles and packages were inspired by the fragrance industry. “These packages have an image of hair on them, there is an energy to that. You never see hair in the hair care aisle.”

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