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Hair Care: A Push/Pull Market

By: Alexander Kirillov
Posted: May 1, 2008, from the May 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.
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Hair care is succumbing to the challenges of market maturity, including discounting and private label competition. At $57 billion, it remains the personal care industry’s second largest market, but with global growth under 5% a year, at a fixed USD exchange rate 2002–2007, its performance is below the industry average of 5.2%—and is a long way behind skin care’s 7% growth rate. Manufacturers still see potential in the market, however, and launch activity remains as high as ever as they tailor products to increasingly specific needs.

””For major players—particularly Unilever, L’Oréal and P&G—the strategy of micro-segmentation is paying off. All five of the leading global hair care brands—Sunsilk, Garnier Fructis, Head & Shoulders, Elsève/Elvive and Dove—saw share gains 2001–2007 due to new product introductions.

L’Oréal’s Vive Pro elevates the specialization model to the extreme, offering four formulas—Color Vive, Style and Body Infusing, Smooth Intense and Vive Pro for Men—targeted at specific hair concerns and further broken down into hair type. For example, in the Color Vive line there are three formulas for color-treated hair: regular color-treated hair, highlighted hair, and dry and damaged hair.
Meanwhile, P&G is waging war on dandruff with Head & Shoulders’ Intensive Solutions, available in four targeted formulas. Each is designed to treat itching, flaking, dryness, irritation and redness in a medicated formula. The line also offers conditioner technology that helps protect hair against damage.

After the international success of its Sunsilk brand, Unilever launched the line in the U.S. in June 2006. Unilever touts Sunsilk as a serious problem-solving hair care brand. Consumers may choose from eight customized collections specially formulated to resolve the most common hair issues. And with two of the eight collections specifically designed for Hispanic hair, Sunsilk is the first major U.S. brand to include Hispanic-specific formulas at launch.