Hair Styling Marketers Are in a Real Fix

By Katie Middleweek, Editor, European Cosmetic Markets | September 7, 2010

To spray or not to spray? Hair styling product sales took a hit in much of Western Europe.
The hair styling category in the Big 5 in Europe has fallen resolutely flat in the past year—with the sole exception of the UK, which showed a healthy 4.5% growth. All other countries lost sales in value terms after a year when consumers appeared to turn away from the category in droves perhaps as they were prioritizing their money elsewhere.

According to SymphonyIRI Group, sales of French hair styling products through supermarkets and hypermarkets fell by a massive 9.7% in the past year to about $280 million. Of this total, hair gels alone fell 9.3% to approximately $142 million. And spray gels fared even worse losing a dramatic 13% to $87.6 million. But there was one bright spot on the horizon in the form of an old favorite, hair spray, which did manage to post small, but reassuring growth of 1.6% to $142.7 million. Volume sales here were even more impressive, putting on 3%, and accounting for 19.25 million units.

New product wise, L’Oréal Professionnel brand, always popular with French consumers, has tapped into the new trend for styling products that have a more glamorous and glitzy image. Recalling the advance that Elnett, L’Oréal’s leading hair spray brand, made in 2008 with Lacque Fixant Diamant, the new Texture Expert Sparkling Mist product from also claims to give hair a diamond shine finish, and incorporates dual zone technology with ingredients that are said to penetrate the hair fiber on both the surface and cuticle to give it a luxurious appearance.

Stuck in a Rut
In Germany, there was more bad news for the hair styling sector as it slipped 4.4% to approximately $678 million last year, according to data from SymphonyIRI Germany. Hair spray led the way, accounting for nearly $386 million of that total, but volume also fell flat in Germany with the market posting a slide of 3.2% to slightly more than 54 million units last year. But here, hair sprays did not fare so well volume-wise, dropping 1.7% to total 38.4 million units.

There wasn’t a great deal of innovation in terms of new product development, but local brand Schwarzkopf & Henkel did not disappoint. Within its Syoss family, September last year saw the launch of a new range of styling products including the Syoss Max Hold line of three products for super strong and extra lasting hold. These comprised a hair spray with UV filters, a styling foam with anti-static properties and a styling gel that promises 24-hour hold without stickiness. The Syoss Strong Hold range is a similar offering, but one which has a slightly softer hold.

Falling Flat
Hair styling sales in Italy also fared quite badly during the past year, with trade body Unipro reporting that the market declined 2.5% to approximately $297 million in 2009. Within the category, mousse sales declined 3.9% to less than $65 million, while hair gels lost 3.5% to about $108 million. Sales of hair sprays declined too, down just 0.9% to $124 million. Still, a decline is a decline.

Beiersdorf’s Nivea brand is always a popular choice in Italy, and the past year was no exception. To satisfy consumer desire, Nivea launched Volume Sensation. The new products boast polymers to fix hair in place, make it healthier from within and to give the hair extra body in general. The Volume Sensation Spray, the Volume Sensation Mousse and the Diamond Gloss Wax, which make up the range, are said to help the overall volumizing effect because they have light textures that do not sit heavily in the hair or make it sticky, according to the company.

Slip Sliding Away
According to the latest data from SymphonyIRI Spain, the hair styling market in the country has suffered from a serious lack of bounce in the past year with both value and volume figures falling dramatically. Volume sales of hair styling products fell 7% to $210 million, while volume fell 3% to 14.6 million.

Spanish consumers are always big supporters of natural hair styling products and L’Oréal’s Garnier brand had lots to offer in this department during the past year. Garnier’s styling brands Fructis and Grafic are both based on natural plant extracts, and Fructis recently launched a new styling line based on bamboo and cactus extracts. This new four-SKU hairspray line not only offers different hold options but also combats frizz caused by humidity while adding volume for styling purposes. Fructis has also introduced a specific Heat-Straightening Spray—also based on this bamboo formula—to be used with hair dryers and straightening devices to protect hair while adding shine at the same time.

Every Cloud…
Despite all the bad news, it was good news for the UK hair styling market. According to Kantar Worldpanel, the category put on a voluminous 4.5% to $412 million in value terms. It can be seen that hair sprays commanded the largest share of the UK market at 37.4%, which was up an impressive 8.7% on the previous year. This was followed next by setting sprays, which gained 6.1% to hold an 18.1% share of the market. Men’s hairdressing was one of the few categories to plummet, dropping an enormous 18.1% to a 4.5% market share.

As ever, hair spray remains a key area for new product development and Alberto-Culver’s TreSemmé brand has proved this point by adding two new variants to its existing hair spray lineup. Ultimate Hold with Platinum Shine promises to offer the brand’s strongest level of hold yet with an ultra shiny, non-sticky finish. In addition the spray is said to offer 24-hour humidity resistance against changing environmental conditions. The second product, Superior Hold with Touchable Feel, promises to offer flexible, non-sticky movement alongside all day hold. Hair is left soft and touchable, according to the company.

Hair styling marketers must get a better hold on consumer trends or else face another difficult 12 months. For consumers to part with their money for hair styling products there has to be something unique about them and that just doesn’t seem to be happening at present. With the exception of the UK market, the rest of the Big 5 in Europe is in freefall.

European Cosmetic Markets is published monthly by HPCi Media Limited. It provides in-depth data and analysis of the European cosmetics and toiletries market. For subscription details contact HPCi Media Limited, Tel: (44) 0207 193 7447 • Fax: (44) 20 7549 8622