L'Oreal leads way in ethnic haircare

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Top ethnic haircare brands have kicked up their efforts for hair color targeting women of color.

L'Oreal USA's Soft Sheen Products will introduce in October a new hair color product called Karizma Creme Colour, formulated specifically for the needs of African-American women. The product, which will retail for $7.99, features shades to complement different African-American skin tones and moisturizing ingredients to prevent breakage.

"The African-American consumer really appreciates hair color created with them in mind," said Amy Hilliard, senior VP-marketing at Soft Sheen.


The introduction will be backed by a TV, print, outdoor, promotion and in-store campaign from Burrell Communications Group, Chicago. Ms. Hilliard said Soft Sheen will commit an "unprecedented amount of spending in the market" for the launch of Karizma. Soft Sheen spent only $1.3 million in media in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Carson Products Co.'s Dark & Lovely will also launch TV advertising soon, to back a reformulated and repackaged hair color line, including a tie-in with singer Mary J. Blige's summer tour. Dark & Lovely also revamped its at-home relaxer kits with packages featuring celebrity model, actress Nia Long.

Ms. Blige will appear in TV and print ads touting both products, which were expected to break this month, but have been held up by the Screen Actors' Guild strike.

The campaign broke with five-page inserts in July issues of magazines including Essence, Vibe and Honey; outdoor in 12 key markets, in-store displays and couponing. Ads, from agency Hot Sauce, New York, are tagged, "Time to get lovely."

CMR reports Carson spent $1.9 million in media support for Dark & Lovely in 1999. L'Oreal purchased the marketer in February, and ad spending is expected to increase.


Acquisitions, such as the Carson's purchase and Alberto-Culver Co.'s buy of ethnic marketer Pro-Line Corp., will put more marketing and product-development muscle behind the brands, said Ken Smikle, president of Target Market News, a researcher that monitors African-American consumers.

"These companies bring significant research and development to an industry that has not had that luxury for some time," he said.

Target Market News estimates African-American households' spending on haircare products rose to $615 million in 1999 from $476 million in 1997.

"People understand the African-American market is a market to be reckoned with," said Ms. Hilliard.

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