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The top two players in the hair color category will relaunch old brands this spring and touch up recent entries, as competition in the segment continues to build.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s Clairol unit will highlight a kinder, gentler Loving Care with a $17 million marketing push in May; later it will introduce a fresh campaign for its Revitalique brand.

Meanwhile, chief rival L'Oreal will relaunch its Casting Tone-on-Tone Colorant and add shades to its most recent entry, Feria, including the first colors targeted at men.

Clairol's campaign, from Intuition Group, New York, will continue to use actress Jane Seymour as the brand's spokeswoman, said executives close to the company. The ads will introduce a faster-acting formula lower in peroxide with improved conditioning and scent.

Clairol officials could not be reached for comment.


The hair color market has grown nearly 30% from 1995's $919 million to $1.2 billion in 1998, according to Information Resources Inc.

"It's a vibrant market," said Wendy Leibmann, president of consultancy WSL Strategic Retail.

Both ends of the demographic spectrum are stoking the category's growth. Young adults are beginning to treat hair color as a fashion statement. At the same time, baby boomers are finding creative ways to cover their gray, Ms. Leibmann said.

Clairol remains the leader in the hair color sector, but it has begun to feel the heat from old foes and new competitors. Clairol had 44.2% of the market at the end of the third quarter of 1998, down from 46.1% at the same time in 1997, according to IRI.

L'Oreal, which controls 33% of the market, will introduce Casting ColorSpa, a reformulated version of the semipermanent Casting Tone-on-Tone Colorant in May with a TV campaign from McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York. A company spokeswoman wouldn't disclose spending, but Competitive Media Reporting figures show Casting received $8 million in ad support during the first 11 months of 1998.

Both Casting and Loving Care recently have lost market share. While each is still among the top 10 hair color brands, Loving Care dropped to a 3.8% chare of the market in 1998 from 4.6% in 1997 and Casting dropped to 3.3% from 3.8. By comparison, L'Oreal's Feria captured 2.9% of the market from its introduction in September 1998 to the end of the year, and Revitalique reached a 1.9% share during the same period.

L'Oreal will also add 10 new shades to the Feria line, including four targeted at men. The shades will feature men's images in the packaging, but will be distributed in the same displays as the women's shades.

The men's shades will be supported with print ads in men's magazines, also from McCann. L'Oreal spent $15 million on advertising Feria from its introduction last summer through November, according to CMR.


Revlon -- a distant third in the category with 9.1% of the market -- is also aiming for a higher share this year with new products for both the general and ethnic market.

Revlon followed last year's launch of ColorStay hair color with this month's launch of Super Lustrous Hair Color, a product aimed directly at Feria's "shimmering color" claims, and plans to launch African Pride High Lites, a hair highlighting product targeted for ethnic consumers. Each is part of the

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