CURTIS STYLES BINGE OF NEW PRODUCTS;BOTANICAL LINE GROWS; COMPANY TRIES FIRST ENTRY IN SUPERPREMIUM SEGMENT WITH INT'L COLLECTION

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Helene Curtis Industries, recently acquired by Unilever, is moving ahead with an aggressive new-products push in the $3 billion haircare market.

Curtis is introducing a companion line of hair styling products under the Botanical banner launched last year with Botanical Blends shampoos and conditioners. An $8 million ad campaign themed "The natural way to do what your hair won't do naturally" from DDB Needham Worldwide, Chicago, supports.

NEW TERRITORY

The marketer also is taking a shot at haircare segments it hasn't previously entered.

The International Collection is a line priced at $5.99 each and aimed at the superpremium segment. Superpremiums represent just 13% of total haircare dollar sales but are outstripping the rest in actual growth.

The segment has doubled in size since last year, said Ralph Blessing, Curtis' group brand manager of haircare.

The International Collection includes Kara shampoos and conditioners made with Swedish wildflower extracts; Sea Source Hydrating shampoos and conditioners enriched with nutrients from the Australian seas; and Capriccio Eleganza Professionale, styling products meant to conjure up visions of trendy Italian fashions.

CO-OP ADVERTISING

The brand won't be supported with major national ad dollars, however. Instead, "we will fund it with retailers," Mr. Blessing said. "Advertising will be co-op, including a 20-second commercial with a 10-second tag for retailers."

Curtis isn't the only mainstream haircare marketer experimenting with more upscale products with more-limited distribution and smaller ad budgets.

Earlier this year, Dial Corp. said it would introduce an organic haircare line called Kaya as well as a personal care line under the Nature's Accents label (AA, Feb. 19).

SUAVE LINE EXPANDS

Curtis also is taking its value-priced Suave brand into a new price tier with the addition of Suave BioBasics, whose packaging evokes that of copycat brands with notations like "Formulated to work like Biolage" and "Formulated to work like Paul Mitchell," two popular and expensive salon brands. Foote, Cone & Belding handles Suave.

For its Finesse brand, Curtis is planning a summer sweepstakes called "Finesse Your Fantasy," offering $200,000 in cash and prizes.

Mr. Blessing said it will be supported with a $2 million ad campaign.

Curtis recently moved its estimated $80 million in U.S. media buying to the Botway Group from DDB Needham.

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