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Shaggy to Chic

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: May 29, 2014, from the June 2014 issue of GCI Magazine.

It’s sharing time. When I was a kid, I was absolutely and completely obsessed with the Beatles. And an eleven-year-old quoting Beatles songs in the early 1980s to other eleven-year-olds wasn’t an endearing endeavor; it certainly didn’t make the early teen years much fun when the girls were much more interested in Duran Duran and Prince’s Purple Rain than the nerd going on about Sgt. Pepper. And, man, how I wanted any given John Lennon coif. Unfortunately, that was just as much a losing proposition as my efforts to win the hearts of those who had already committed their unwavering affection to John Taylor. Once my bangs got down to my eyebrows, they’d just curl out and up in cruel disdain of my efforts. And, what do I have now? When my chosen head of hair would be a 1970s Tom Waits’ bohemian troubadour cool, my only option is to shave what remains.

One doesn’t need to explore much further than the everyday observation or occurrence to realize the power, pull and obsession of and with hair. It’s always striking to me that, in the case of many women I’ve known, those with curly hair seem to have an overwhelming proclivity to straighten it, and those with straight hair love adding a bit of curl. And there’s a very high cost threshold of what a consumer of either gender will pay when it comes to their hair.

Consider The Wall Street Journal article noting that elite stylists are raising their prices to $1,000 and beyond1 and a basic men’s haircut in Manhattan will likely start at about $80. Customers are paying for the stylist’s artistic vision and eye for detail, and, theoretically, patrons will get a hairstyle customized to their body and bone structure1—they’re paying for the shape, not for hair to simply be shortened. Even for someone who’s never been able to do anything with his hair, the desire to “do something” with hair and willingness to spend on it is well appreciated.

In “New Dos Give Hair Care a Renewed Boost,” Euromonitor International’s Oru Mohiuddin writes that the global hair care market has been able to resist the downward pressures on growth rates, benefiting from a surge of innovations and evolving from a staple category with basic cleaning functions to one that includes more sophisticated products that offer more targeted solutions.

In doing so, hair care has increasingly become performance driven, borrowing the focus on efficacy from skin care, and the increasing sophistication in hair care has led to a gradual premiumization, although mass products still account for nearly 90% of the global hair care market, writes Mohiuddin.

But like every other category, hair care is a moving target. The truths of a few years ago are not necessarily the truths of today. But with dedication to your brand DNA and target consumers, your aim will remain true however that target moves.

1. L Lipton (2014, Jan. 29), Is a $1,000 Haircut and Blow Dry Worth It?, The Wall Street Journal, retrieved from online.wsj.com