Slideshow: How to Disrupt the Hair Color Experience

Contact Author Jeb Gleason-Allured, Editor in Chief
Close
Fill out my online form.
  • Madison Reed founder and CEO, Amy Errett.
  • The Madison Reed Color Bar in New York.
  • Madison Reed Color Reviving Gloss.
  • Madison Reed Root Touch Up.
  • Madison Reed Shampoo and Conditioner.
  • Madison Reed's Tame smoothing emulsion.

Tap Into Business Solutions! This is just part of the article. Want the complete story, plus a host of other brand-boosting articles to make your job easier? Sign up!

Traditionally, women who wanted to color their hair would have two options.

First, they could go to a pharmacy or other retailer, purchase a product containing ingredients that they knew little about and apply the odorous and messy product at home using poorly conceived instructions. The result? Potential hair damage and underwhelming color results.

The second option was to go to a salon for an expert treatment. The differences between the $10 experience and the $150 experience left a void that Madison Reed founder and CEO Amy Errett focused on when building her at-home color brand.

Formula for Disruption

Want the rest of the story? Simply sign up. It’s easy. Plus, it only takes 1 minute and it’s free!

Errett disrupted the at-home color category by going directly to the consumer with salon-quality products, eliminating potentially irritating ingredients such as ammonia, parabens, resorcinol, PPD, phthalates and gluten from the formulas, improving the application process and instructions, and leveraging technology to simplify shade matching.

Consumers can also skip the quiz and simply snap a selfie of their hair and allow Madi, the brand’s hair color chatbot, select their ideal shade.

The brand gained traction with consumers, as Errett had anticipated. What she hadn’t expected was for consumers to take Madison Reed products to their salons for application. This created interest among salons to carry the brand, which has since expanded to QVC, Sephora and other retail channels.

The brand’s latest launches are the Vivids and Bombshells collections. Vivids comprises five shades—Volterra Amethyst, Rimini Garnet, Savona Scarlett, Carrara Crimson and Matera Marigold—that offer a “gem-like dimension and shine.” Bombshells, which is free of bleach and ammonia, comprises three natural-looking blonde shades: Ferrara Golden, Acona Natural and Prato Ash.

It’s All About the Algorithm

Madison Reed’s ability to enable on-demand customization for consumers comes down to its proprietary algorithm. Consumers can determine their ideal color by filling out a 12-question color quiz online or on the Madison Reed Color Advisor app. The app’s Color Assistant can be voice-prompted to connect a user with a professional Madison Reed colorist. 

The Madison Reed algorithm has collected about 2 million hair profiles.

Consumers can also skip the quiz and simply snap a selfie of their hair and allow Madi, the brand’s hair color chatbot, select their ideal shade.

Whatever path the consumer takes, the algorithm enables greater convenience and specificity, while still offering a human connection for those seeking it.

Data: the Gift That Keeps on Giving

Madison Reed is based in San Francisco and behaves more like a tech company than a traditional beauty brand. Errett noted that the legacy beauty care industry centers on building products and brands. Madison Reed, instead, is built around the core component of its DNA—technology.

The company’s 15 engineers are continuously improving its digital functionality, while strategizing about its next technological leap. While any brand’s products must perform as the consumer expects, Errett said that technology can boost satisfaction, convenience and personalization.

The CEO recently told Global Cosmetic Industry that, to date, the Madison Reed algorithm had collected about 2 million hair profiles. Through machine learning, the algorithm gets smarter with every analysis. And all of that data belongs to the brand.

Errett said that the Color Bar offers convenience, speed and efficiency, as well as brand immersion.

By taking direct ownership of its customers’ data—rather than relying on retail middlemen—Madison Reed has a distinct market advantage. Madison Reed’s algorithm allows it to know precisely who its customers are and what they need. Conventional CPG companies generally don’t have these direct relationships with customers, which explains much of the M&A activity among digitally savvy direct-to-consumer brands.

Data teaches brands a lot about the consumer, Errett said, and referred to it as the “gift that keeps on giving.” Madison Reed is able to apply its consumer insights to product extensions and to boost average order value.

45 Minutes, $45

Like any good brand in 2017, Madison Reed is focused on an omnichannel strategy. The company recently opened its first Color Bar in New York’s Flatiron District. In 45 minutes, customers can get a $45 root touchup, or select a color gloss ($35) or blowout ($35). They can also receive a personalized color tutorial and shop the full line of Madison Reed’s products.

Dorosin is charged with shepherding the brand as it expands store locations and pursues an “aggressive” goal to double revenue.

Errett said that the Color Bar offers convenience, speed and efficiency, as well as brand immersion. It also allows consumers to experience the ease of the brand’s products, which should ideally encourage them toward home application.

The density of the New York market is useful for Madison Reed to build awareness of its products, prove efficacy and encourage repeat purchases. Errett stressed, however, that the Color Bar is not a core area of focus for overall revenue growth. That, she said, will remain in the digital realm, with supplemental growth from Madison Reed’s retail partners.

Doubling Revenue

Madison Reed will remain singularly focused on hair color, said Errett. The brand has new products launching in March, as well as a new retail partner that will be announced at a later date. In the meantime, Madison Reed continues to focus on innovative R&D and leveraging its data to continuously improve products and the brand experience.

To support its growth, the company recently appointed former Clorox VP Heidi Dorosin as chief marketing officer. Dorosin is charged with shepherding the brand as it expands store locations and pursues an “aggressive” goal to double revenue.

Related Content