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Dyeing to Get it Right

By: Sara Mason
Posted: September 2, 2008, from the September 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 5 of 6

The hair coloring market has struggled due to a combination of product over-saturation and stiff competition among a few manufacturers. The previously dynamic sector has lost ground in the U.S., France and Spain, yet sales in Italy improved slightly last year, driven largely by the performance of conditioners and hair color—of which L’Oréal is the indisputable leader, according to Mintel International Group Ltd.

Innovation and catering to burgeoning consumer groups interested in coloring can breathe new life into the market. “Driven by the empowerment of women and the antiaging trend, men recognize the need to compete to look better,” said Redken’s Marsh. Of the three top major manufacturers, Combe, Inc. has seen the most positive gains, indicating the potential power of the men’s market. Combe’s Just For Men, which recently introduced three new colors, is the world leader in men’s hair color. The brand has a no-mess, five-minute maxim, and its new True Color formula targets only the gray hair for a natural look. “Men want to look younger longer, but they want it quick and simple—and they don’t want anyone to notice,” said Marsh.

Redken, which introduced its men’s line two years ago, is just one company that has made a commitment to steady long-term growth in this market. “It’s about changing the entire mentality and lifestyle of the population and redefining masculinity. That’s not going to happen overnight,” Marsh added.

The growing tendency for teens to experiment with appearance also has potential to increase sales in the market. This is especially true in the U.K., where the hair color market is being driven by trends—multitonal, highlighted and temporary effects—that have burgeoned from the youth market. In addition, the emerging and extremely experimental youth market in Japan is influencing Europe, which in turn influences the U. S. “We are seeing more young girls, even boys, experimenting with hair color,” added Marsh. “It is a form of self-expression for teenagers to define who they are.”

Salon Service

In order to ensure growth for the future, the hair color market will need to reconcile the tension between the options of home color and the salon services. The salon hair care segment continues to be plagued by product diversion—the selling of salon products through retail channels—which has increased over the past five years. In addition, salon products are facing increased competition from “masstige” brands. “(A trip to the salon) used to be about quality, but now salon-inspired retail products can give consumers the same quality at home,” said Clairol’s Johns. Yet, while manufacturers have developed at-home beauty alternatives, the indulgent nature of salon treatments is still a powerful draw. According to a study by Redken, the percentage of women coloring only in salons at the end of last year already was up 40% from 2002.