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Diagonal Reports Sees a Revolution in Hairstyling

Posted: August 21, 2014

Hair straightening offers the beauty marketplace today what hair coloring offered in the late 1990s, according to Diagonal Reports. The market researcher finds that hair straightening is no longer a one-size-fits-all category. Innovative technologies and products have revolutionized it, creating it into one of the most dynamic hair care categories. Demand for hair control is growing exponentially due to these new products, and also demographic and lifestyle changes.

Numbers of consumers styling their hair in order to control it have exploded, Diagonal Reports shares. Innovative solutions, which offer flexibility and choice in the type of straightening/smoothing, now meet a wider range of women's demands, and these technologies and brands are being successfully rolled out globally to consumers in Latin America, Africa, North America, Asia and Europe—all populations with totally different hair types.

Hair care, and specifically control, is a key category in the top three global beauty markets. Brazil remains the largest hair straightening market in the world with its insatiable demand for hair combability solutions and products, while Chinese women, despite the apparent contradiction, are intensive users of hair control technologies. And in the U.S., new hair straightening and smoothing treatments have become mainstream because they offer styling versatility to every type of—African American, Caucasian, Hispanic—hair.

Straightening, in little more than a decade, has undergone a total reversal of fortunes, Diagonal Reports notes. Until recently, it was a mono product category: the chemical relaxer. Sales were mainly restricted to ethnic consumer segments and few alternatives were available. Then, new methods and technologies emerged in Asia and Latin America, and they were enthusiastically adopted by frustrated consumers. They won significant market share in their countries of origin, and within a few years, these technologies had been rolled out worldwide, widening the consumer base globally all the while.

What was a monolithic straightening category has fragmented into and across many new technologies—the chemical, the chemical free and tools. Their market is the many millions of consumers who want convenient and personalized styling, such as hair management, curl control and defrizzing. These categories have entered a virtuous growth cycle: more consumers and publicity, sales increasing all the time. In contrast, chemical relaxing has not benefited from this demand, and sales are stagnant.