THE MARKETING 100: L'OREAL KIDS: CAROL HAMILTON

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When l'oreal first unveiled its L'Oreal Kids shampoo line early last year, retailers were skeptical. The fish-shaped bottles were, at 9 ounces, smaller than the industry's standard sizes. What's more, kid-targeted beauty aids are not sure winners.

Retailers say "the value isn't there. We say it is, that the child establishes value," says Carol Hamilton, 45, senior VP-marketing for the L'Oreal retail division of Cosmair. "We were pretty tenacious."

More than a year later, Kids rang up $31.9 million in food, drug and mass merchandiser sales in the year ended April 18, according to company figures, exceeding internal estimates for the first year on shelf, says Ms. Hamilton.

How did L'Oreal do it? After getting the product on store shelves, the company ran a $10 million ad campaign via Publicis/Bloom, New York, with most buys going to TV.

One spot featured kids playing outdoors and shampooing their hair. It may have been a thematic stretch, but it got noticed. The tagline helped-a play off the marketer's familiar Preference tagline-"We're worth it, too!"

L'Oreal also did its homework before the launch. It knew, for example, that the L'Oreal name, long associated with women's haircare, would capture instant credibility with moms, the shampoo gatekeepers. But Kids is really a child-oriented product. The small bottle size, for instance, so unpopular with retailers, was vital because bigger bottles don't fit into kids' hands.

"We listened to kids more than their moms when we did our research," says Ms. Hamilton.

This year, the company launched several line extensions to Kids, breaking into styling and conditioning products. It also got the product into Toys 'R Us after more than a year of cajoling. "That's a big win for us," she says.

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