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Finding Your Niche in Salon Hair Care

By: Karen A. Newman
Posted: October 13, 2008, from the March 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Curly hair, whether permed or natural, has its own set of very specific needs and issues. According to Penny Vanemon, director of marketing, National Starch Personal Care, there is a significant opportunity to address the needs of curly haired consumers in the areas of curl definition, anti-frizz and volume reduction in salon products. Curl Science™, one of the company’s technology and formulating initiatives, looks to address the evolution of hair care products for the curly-haired consumer. According to Vanemon, as a group, consumers with curly hair spend more on hair care products than people with straight hair.

Ageless Luxury

Wendy Clark, founder of i-bella, has worked in the salon business throughout her entire career. She was a hairdresser, new to the business, when she witnessed the major shift that saw the beginning of the end of the salon “set” in favor of big, loose hairstyles that are still popular today. Clark made a shift of her own several years ago, and is now a supplier to the salon and spa industry, which is undergoing another big shift. Before she started to work on her own salon hair care brand, she heard customers asking “Why can’t you make products that are antiaging for my hair just like my skin.” Taking its cues from skin care, the latest generation of hair care products incorporates antiaging and sun protection ingredients. Clark said the products cater to a young generation of salon customers who understand that damaged hair can be prevented.

Building her niche brand in the luxury category, Clark’s strategy has been to present products that add value to the salon owner and to the salon clients’ experience. She said there is not a lot of competition in that category, whereas mature salon brands—all with “great national exposure and good stuff in the bottle”—are all going after the same customers. “We’re the next generation.”