BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- In a fight with behemoths Procter & Gamble Co., Unilever and L'Oréal, it would be hard to pick Alberto-Culver Co. and Tresemmé to win. Yet that pairing has been successful enough to attract a buyout offer from Unilever for the whole company, expected to close early next year.
The mid-tier value brand was the only one among major entrants to gain share in U.S. shampoo, conditioner and styling alike last year, according to SymphonyIRI data, putting it close to overtaking Garnier Fructis for No. 2 overall in mass hair care and styling after taking No. 1 in styling more than two years ago. A resurgent Fructis from L'Oréal and a restage of P&G's Pantene put Tresemme under new pressure this year. But three major initiatives in shampoo and conditioner more than made up for that, helping Alberto-Culver gain more than a point of market share in conditioner and more than two points in shampoo last quarter, according to IRI data from Deutsche Bank.
The "professional affordable" positioning that has been part of Tresemmé's heritage for decades has been particularly relevant during the recession. But two product launches and a restage also played a big role, said Derek Bowen, 40, VP-marketing for U.S. hair care.
The veteran of P&G, where he was once brand manager on Old Spice, and Henkel, where he worked on U.S. laundry and personal care, has worked on Tresemmé as marketing director, global VP-marketing and most recently U.S. marketing chief since 2007.
On his watch, Tresemme has grown from a 4.7- to a nearly 6.8-share brand in mass hair care in the U.S., up more than 40% in sales in a category that has seen flat to low-single-digit growth in the past year.
This year, a restage of the brand's line for color-treated hair, a new Naturals line with botanical extracts, and Fresh Start, a line of dry and waterless foam shampoos, have each exceeded expectations, Mr. Bowen said, with the latter becoming the brand's No. 3 product at many retailers.