Hair to the throne? by Euromonitor International
The UK market for hair care has been undergoing something of a renaissance of late. A decade of broadly uninspiring performances has ended with a flourish of new activity and growing sales. A potent mixture of investment in new product development and heavy spending on advertising has been largely responsible for this growth.
However, there has also been a recent spate of discounting, with many leading brands such as Pantene and Elvive on BOGOF or offered at steep discount. While this discounting has taken its toll on average prices in some areas, it has also caused manufacturers to differentiate their line-ups, effectively engineering more exclusivity into new lines and existing products.
This has been especially so in the case of shampoo and conditioners, which have more or less dropped the appliance of science notion which characterised promotions through the 1990s and replaced it with a more functional approach. With arguably the exception of Head & Shoulders, the John Frieda label, owned by Japanese home products giant Kao Corp, was the first to release a product specifically focused on a specific hair problem, Frizz-Ease.
The success of Frizz-Ease was taken a stage further with the first of a succession of hair type specific launches, Sheer Blonde, Brilliant Brunette and most recently in January 2005 Radiant Red. The success of these brands, especially in the conditioner segment, has really added to sales and further developed the buoyant premium hair care segment. Indeed Brilliant Brunette was recorded as the most successful brand launch in 2003. For a premium line this is something of a revelation and in turn has spurred a slew of ‘me too’ and similarly functional or hair type orientated launches such as Sunsilk Anti-Flat, Redken Smooth Down and Boots Botanics Colourants. Consumers, it would seem, have warmed to the idea of specific hair care, the "does exactly what it says on the tin" approach to naming has played its part especially with the huge number of products that are currently available on the UK market.
So what of the future? Euromonitor believes that the arrival of Head & Shoulders for Men in 2004 suggests another assault on the tricky but perennially underdeveloped male hair care segment. Perhaps if clearly functional brands are the key, then products that tackle conditions found in hard and soft water areas could also be an avenue to explore.
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