Hair Styling Update

November 9, 2005

Novel products and consumer education mean there's room for newcomers and old favorites alike in this growing market.

The body has long been decorated, enhanced and, where possible, even physically modified to project a desired image, and hair, which can be painlessly altered, has always been top on the self-modification list. This malleability makes hair the ideal medium for self-expression, a fact which has fueled an ever-growing market for shampoos, conditioners, mechanical devices and, above all, styling aids.

Although feeling good is primary to any consumer, looking good runs a close second, and for good reason: research indicates that, like it or not, first impressions do have a significant impact, and the main thrust of any first impression is visual.

According to a study conducted by Yale University, New Haven, CT and commissioned by Physique, Procter & Gamble’s styling-based hair care line, hair style can communicate a wide variety of perceived character traits, from intelligence to sexiness to whether the wearer may be the correct candidate for a job or trustworthy enough to date.

In the study, which was directed by Dr. Marianne LaFrance, professor of psychology and professor of women’s and gender studies at Yale University, young women and men of diverse ethnic backgrounds were asked to respond to 300 digital images of three men and three women.

The images showcased a variety of hairstyles which were rated by the respondents on a scale of one to six using 10 adjectives: sexy, intelligent, outgoing, self-centered, poor, unpleasant, polished, confident, narrow-minded and careless. Though a variety of hairstyles were studied, only a limited number of models—each wearing several different hairstyles—were used.

In the study, each model was viewed differently according to his or her ‘do. When the female model sported a short, tousled coiffure she was viewed as confident and outgoing, while her longer, straight, blonde locks evoked a sexy and affluent image. A medium-length, casual women’s look was perceived as the most good-natured. The male model’s short, front-flip style appeared sexy but also self-centered, while one myth was reinforced in that both men and women with long hair were viewed as generally less intelligent. A medium length side part for men was seen as narrow-minded but also the smartest and most affluent of the hair perceptions studied.

Given the visual impact of one’s coiffure, it is no surprise that the hair care category has evolved over time to include styling aids that accommodate virtually any look-of-the-moment. Today’s mixed bag of hair styles—and the products required to achieve them—has broadened the hair styling aid market significantly, fueled by the contemporary emphasis on individualized looks as opposed to the cookie-cutter styles of days gone by. There is, it would seem, something for everyone in the hair styling market. “There is a broad versatility in both styles and styling products today,” confirmed Stephanie Schneider, senior hair scientist, Pantene product development, “and consumers seek out products that they can use in a variety of ways in order to achieve a number of different styles.”

Consumer enthusiasm for experimentation in this category was confirmed by last year’s sales results. Dollar sales of hair sprays and spritzes were up 1.8% for the year ended Feb. 25, 2001, at $599 million in food, drug and mass merchandising stores, according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI), Chicago. Dollar sales of styling and setting gels and mousses rose 14.7%, to $605 million.

“What we’re seeing at Pantene is that more and more, consumers want to create new styles themselves,” noted Ms. Schneider. “Mousses and gels are growing faster than sprays right now. Consumers desire a certain style and want to know how to achieve it themselves, and although sprays are great for keeping a finished style in place or for smoothing down the hair, it takes a gel or mousse to actually get the style in the first place.”

She added that with new information and styling tips in magazines, on television and on the internet, consumers are becoming more skilled at styling than in the past. “People want to experiment with their hair. Styling aids help them to achieve the creative looks they want.”

Turning Heads
Creativity does seem to be the name of the game in today’s styling aid market, but achieving salon looks at home requires the use of more, and better, tools. Major marketers are meeting this challenge both with new product lines and increased consumer education.

Procter & Gamble’s Pantene, the top brand in gels and mousses and No. 3 in the spray category for the 52-week period ending Feb. 25 according to IRI, has created style-specific subcategories with its Pro-V collections. All contain the Pro-V trademark ingredient—an exclusive pro-vitamin complex containing panthenol, panthenyl ethyl ether, dimethicone and fatty alcohols—and each is a complete line, removing the need to mix-and-match conditioners, styling aids and shampoos. A new pearlescent-colored packaging and proprietary anti-clogging nozzle round out the look, performance and philosophy that Pantene executives were looking for.

“The idea behind the collections was to provide consumers with a holistic experience rather than simply targeting a problem,” explained Ms. Schneider. “In talking to consumers, we found that shoppers generally selected products based on a particular hair type, but research showed that 80% of consumers were misdiagnosing their hair types and not getting the results they desired.” The answer was an end-look oriented series which takes into account both hair type and styling requirements, according to Ms. Schneider: “What the collections do is to address what the customer wants as an end result. Instead of just asking, ‘does she want maximum hold?’ or ‘is her hair dry/oily?’ we asked, ‘what is the right combination of products she needs to create the style she wants?’”

This consumer-based initiative reflects the company’s focus on consumer education, which is now available through its website in the form of styling tips and guidance in product selection. A simple quiz helps identify the individual’s cleansing and styling requirements and lists the appropriate styling products.

Once the consumer’s requirements are identified, she can access a home page geared toward the collection of products that is best for her in order to obtain specific product information, photo visuals of Pro V-treated locks and hair care advice.

The company’s five Pro-V collections include Volumizing, for fuller-looking hair; Smoothing, to deliver a straight, sleek, frizz-free style; Curls, to create lively, defined curls; Color Care, to maintain and condition color-treated hair and Basic Care, to develop health and shine.

Each collection includes at least one shampoo, conditioner and styling aid as well as repairative or enhancing products. The Volumizing collection includes a Body-Builder gel and mousse as well as an Energy Boost styling tonic, while Curls contains Scrunching gel, Curl Defining mousse and Curl Reviving treatment spray. Color Care includes an Intensive Care masque and Radiant Response gel and mousse. Smoothing offers Frizz Down calming masque and Get It Straight gel for a sleek effect.

To promote Physique, P&G is also leaning toward result-oriented products and consumer self-education. “We offer consumers an end-look, whereas in the past individuals were buying by hair type,” confirmed Mary Pochobradsky, brand manager, Physique. Three new collections—Volumizing, Straight Shape and Curl Defining—and a six-collection styling series offer styling sprays as well as foams, lotions or gels, shampoos and conditioners, all of which work together to allow the consumer to achieve the look she wants.

Physique also offers a Special Collection, which includes Precision pomade, a Styling stick and Styling spray. “These forms are new; they have creamy textures and are a little unusual. They’re very different,” noted Ms. Pochobradsky. “Consumers need to experiment and learn how to apply them, which is one service we offer on our website. It’s all part of a transformation in hair care.” Among the most innovative of Physique’s new products are Spiral cream, a technology that tames frizz by aligning irregular air spaces and leaving curls softly defined; Styling spray, a targeted mist system that defines and holds curls for up to 20 hours; Contouring lotion, to smooth the hair surface and reduce fly-aways and the Styling stick, an extremely versatile product that adds texture and definition to create virtually any style the consumer wants, according to company executives. Physique’s series products retail from $3.50-$9.

L’Oréal turned to its consulting hairstylist Oribe, who works with celebrities including Jennifer Lopez, Sharon Stone and Gwyneth Paltrow according to the company, in developing its latest styling products. “The tousled, sexy look is really popular with women today,” Oribe observed. “You can add texture, movement and shine to any style with the right styling products.” In January the company introduced Studio Line FX Toss, a lotion that provides instant texture and creates unstructured, tousled looks on short or medium-length hair, company executives said. Separation and a “pieced” effect can be achieved by sectioning out selected strands of hair and applying varying amounts of Toss in order to achieve a multi-textured, unstructured effect.

To finish this or another style, Oribe suggests Fast Forward Quick Dry hair spray. The spray contains patent-pending resins that work with a patent-pending aerosol device to dry in seconds and leave the hair feeling soft and natural. Since the product goes on cool and dry, styles aren’t weighed down. The spray is available in Extra Strong and Flexible Strong hold levels. Both products offer the additional benefit of adding shine, according to the company.

The Studio FX line also includes Fresh Styling water, Melting gel and Liquid gel, which offer uncomplicated, non-sticky styles with movement. The products retail for $3.29 each.

A New Perspective
Waxes, pomades, tonics and combination products are appearing on store shelves more and more these days. However, industry experts agree that traditional sprays and spritzes still have a place in the consumer mindset. Rather than negating traditional forms, the newer styling aids serve to pack a multi-beneficial punch that, when used along with sprays or spritzes, create and maintain today’s styles, according to industry experts.

“We still offer the best in technology for styling sprays. They’re 50% of our styling market,” revealed Ms. Pochobradsky of Physique. At the same time, she acknowledged the introduction of new forms on the styling scene: “As people experiment with new products, we are seeing the styling segment growing with pomades, styling sticks, creams and lotions.”

Designed to be used in conjunction with their corresponding styling aids for maximum benefit, Physique’s sprays include Amplifying, Spiral, Contouring and Styling, all of which are available in non-aerosol versions and retail for $7, and Motionless aerosol spray, which also retails for $7.

Vidal Sassoon created its VS Sassoon Salon Collection with the input of top stylists from its 21 salons and 13 teaching academies worldwide, according to company executives. The 31 SKU collection contains products that can be mixed and matched to create a unique regimen. The items range in price from $5-12.

The research involved in developing the products was extensive: “Our stylists tested, rejected and approved a vast variety of products until we came up with the perfect VS Sassoon formulas that would help our clients recreate these sought-after looks in their own homes,” confirmed Peter Gray, the company’s editorial director.

The VS Sassoon Salon Collection is based on a three-step process: cleansing/conditioning, style and finish. Selecting from among the products in each of the three categories, the consumer can balance, color-protect, volumize or de-frizz before moving along to a broad range of styling product options. Individuals can receive styling help and advice on product selection on the company’s website or on the packaging with a “you have...you want...here’s how” graph. Among the line’s most interesting SKUs are Polishing drops, which add shine and refined style to either wet or dry hair and Molding clay, a putty-like formula which can be used to separate or twist the hair while providing a matte finish.

Sprays in the Collection include Lifter spray gel and Heat Styling, Volumizing, Flexible Hair, Shine and Ultra Firm hair sprays. The products became available exclusively at Vidal Sassoon salons and the company’s internet site in February.

Unilever’s Rave and Suave sprays and spritzes, which remain the No. 1 and No. 2 brands in the category once again with sales of $65 million and $47 million respectively, each registered gains last year. Of the two, Suave experienced the more significant increase, at 13.7%, according to IRI. The value brand offers a complete line of sprays, spritzes, gels and mousses. Among its more recent category additions are the herbal formulations, which include chamomile and passion flower Extra- and Flexible-Hold sprays, herbal lavender Spray gel and herbal lavender Shine gel, Frizz Control aloe vera gel and Extra Control rosemary mousse. A Shaping gel, Extra Control mousse and Maximum Control mousse are also available, offering consumers a variety of styling options at a lower cost than some manufacturers.

May All Be Coiffed
New styling aid collection B in10se (be intense) was designed to not only coiff but condition, according to The Lamaur Corporation, Minneapolis, MN. B in-10se gels contain microspheres that release such ingredients as jojoba oil, vitamins E, A and B5 and sunscreens upon application, protecting the hair from sun, wind and even chlorine. Unlike the rinse-off action commonly found in shampoos and conditioners, the microspheres, which are broken open by the actions of palm blending and finger combing, stay in the hair to protect and nourish in addition to maintaining style, according to company executives.

B in10se’s styling gels include four different levels of hold: Softwear Hold (level 1), Dominant Hold (level 2), Extreme Hold (level 3) and Hyper Hold (level 4). While the ingredients within the microspheres coat and condition the hair, the gels deliver the desired level of hold with a soft feel and no flakes. The product was introduced in March and retails for $6.99.

B in10se is also breaking new ground with a pre-mixed gel/cream in B in10se Créme Gelee. According to the company, Créme Gelee follows the principle that most salons employ: combining different types of styling products in order to achieve the ideal combination of volume, hold and shine. Créme Gelee combines a water-based gel with an oil based conditioning cream to form a stable emulsion that repels water to control frizz, add volume and provide hold. At the same time, the product delivers the shine and silkiness that keeps hair looking healthy, company executives said. The product retails for $6.99.

B in10se’s slant toward a younger market, as evidenced by its multi-level hold styling aids and its hip and trendy product names, is a phenomenon that is cropping up throughout the hair care industry. “Younger consumers are important and are helping to drive the market,” confirmed Ms. Schneider of Pantene. She added that girls as young as middle-school age experiment with different holds and styles, while boys tend to start styling in high school and stick primarily with gels for extreme or firm-hold looks.

Dippity-Do, originally introduced in 1945, helped propel the younger market in later years due to its ability to hold more dramatic styles, especially among the experiment-oriented and individuality-seeking high school and young adult segment. The product was recently repackaged and repositioned as Dippity-Do Sport; its focus is now on the male category. With its cobalt-blue bottle and grab-and-go sport grips, the brand was well received in its Canadian rollout and is now rolling out in the U.S.

“Slicked through wet hair or applied to dry hair as a grooming aid, Dippity-Do Sport is an easy way to add style and healthy-looking shine for the guy who is always on the go,” said Maureen Gregory, vice president of marketing, The White Rain Company, Danbury, CT. The brand includes Ultimate Hold, Ultimate Hold Unscented, Extreme Hold and Ultimate Hold Spray gels, as well as Sport defining wax.

John Frieda, New York, NY, is adopting a playful attitude with Beach Blonde, a four-item collection. The line includes Ocean Waves, a jojoba oil and sea salt-enhanced gel. The product provides a just-got-back-from-the-beach look by both lightening and texturizing the hair into wavy, tousled strands. Gold Rush is a shimmer gel which accents all shades of hair with streaks of gold, according to company executives; rather than peroxide, a standard highlighting ingredient, it contains bits of gold mica. Beach Blonde’s combination of lightening effects with styling hold provides a completed “look” and is on-trend with what consumers seem to be gravitating toward: multibeneficial tools that focus on the total end-look rather than one specific action.

LA Looks, the No. 2 hair styling gel marketer in 2000 according to IRI, revamped its brand by adding a proprietary strengthening compound to its gels, mousses and sprays. In addition, the company added specialty gels that give combination benefits. Calling this repositioning a “makeover for the new millennium,” the company said that it offers light and modern new colors, salon-style products, “chunky, funky” new bottles, and a fresh new fragrance.

The product line includes Extra Super Hold Spray gel, Mega Hold 4 Color, Mega Volume gel and Frizz Control gel, as well as a 2-in-1 formula mousse line that combines the hold and styling power of a gel with the soft body and flexible volume of a mousse.

LA Looks is “not just gels,” according to company executives. Its line of sprays includes Mega Hold, Extra Super Hold and Mega Mega Hold Spritz-on sprays. By matching holding levels, style requirements and product preference (gel, mousse, spray or a combination), the consumer is able to achieve the softest to the most extreme look.

Sexy Hair Concepts, Chatsworth, CA, formerly called Formulas by Ecoly, introduced the Big Sexy Hair collection in 1999, with launches throughout the following two years of Straight Sexy Hair, Short Sexy Hair, Curly Sexy Hair and Hot Sexy Highlights.

The company has most recently introduced Aero Color sprays, which impart avant-garde colors to the hair that are easily washed out with shampoo and Big Sexy Hair Root Pump Plus, a humidity-resistant volumizing spray mousse for hair lift and health.

Pump Plus is said to strengthen hair from the root, prevent frizzies and fly-aways and adjust the hair’s pH balance to give hair a lift while maintaining health and strength. The pump retails for $14.50 and, like other Sexy Hair Concepts products, is available in professional salons.

Sexy Hair Concepts also caters to the male consumer with Rumble Boys, a collection of hair products sporting macho names, camouflage colors and a rugged male image. Axel Grease Hold and Shine pomade is a light-hold finishing product that can be applied to either wet or dry hair for style and shine; the product is a metallic army green/brown and comes in a round plastic jar. It retails for $11.50 for 1.8-oz. Bullet Proof Hard Hold hair spray dries quickly to a firm hold that supports strong shapes and styles; it retails for $9.95 for 5.3-oz.

Completing the Look
Though spray sales have grown only minimally in recent years, major marketers agree that this represents a leveling off of, not a crisis in, hair spray sales. Despite previous warnings of an edging out and eventual replacement of tried and true sprays, it appears that new styling aid forms actually add to the already-abundant hair styling market. Their introduction and increased usage in recent years has opened a new category, but one which works in conjunction with more traditional methods in order to effect a desired end look that no longer requires a salon or stylist to achieve, according to industry experts.

Since the introduction of newer sticks, balms, lotions, pomades, gels and waxes, both their collective category and the hair spray segment have achieved gains during the past several years. Though hair spray sales growth has been the slower of the two, the category still has plenty of life in it. In the meantime, hair styling marketers will continue to offer new innovations in order to keep up with a consumer segment that is always looking for something just a little bit different.

“Hair is an expression of oneself,” summed up Ms. Schneider of Pantene product development. “Styling aids help achieve that.”

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