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Consumer-driven Change—Supplier Insights

By: Alexandra Voigt
Posted: June 30, 2010, from the July 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

The hair care market has changed from one of pure function and cleanliness to addressing specific hair problems and concerns, and this is particularly evident in ethnic hair care. Victoria Royster, senior customer sales and support specialist for AkzoNobel Global Personal Care; Jena Kinneyand, marketing manager – hair care, Croda; and Jim Mish, senior vice president/general manger, personal care, ISP; add to the topics explored in Consumer-driven Change.

Royster: In the past, ethnic consumers were using products that often had very harsh ingredients (lye and ammonia), but were effective in achieving the style they wanted. Today, they are looking for products that will be easier on their hair and will help treat past damage. Natural and organic ingredients continue to be a big trend, driven by a focus on maintaining and restoring healthy hair. Consumers are also looking for products that will provide visibly healthy-looking hair even though it has been damaged in the past.

AkzoNobel has been doing a lot of development work to address this new need, and we do have a line of certified organic starches, Naviance, which has been commercially available for about two years. AkzoNobel has developed ‘green’ technology that will support the consumer trend of natural products. Our Naviance Kit supports the ethnic hair care market by providing natural ingredients that can assist with healthier hair alternatives. Several formulas in the kit contain naturally derived polymers and ingredients, such as our Celquat, Structure and Amaze polymers. While these polymers are not certified organic, they are more naturally derived than most of the polymers our competition would have to offer for the same application.

AkzoNobel has been working on a more natural approach to all ingredients, not just those for ethnic hair care, for at least the past several years. The Naviance line was launched about two years ago, and we have been diligently working on additional natural solutions since then. We have gathered salon data that can assist with the marketing of our natural products. Ethnic consumers rely heavily upon the recommendations of their stylists more than consumers from any other market group. Ethnic consumers also tend to be very loyal to the recommended products for a length of time.

Kinneyand: The market continues to seek products that will offer straightening that is milder to both the hair fiber and skin. As such, we continue to see a lot of interest in these trendy straightening systems, most recently the Brazilian or Keratin Therapy Straightening Systems. We do continue to see more consumer demand for these types of straightening systems. Customers are asking for systems that are not based on formaldehyde chemistry but that still offer straightening capabilities and leaving the hair feeling silky smooth.