Marketers Ready Product Lines and Ad Campaigns

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CINCINNATI ( -- Big hair is back -- and marketers are on the leading edge of the revival.

The big styles of the 1980s were a boon to hair-product

Photo: Michael Watts
Big hair is in evidence on the runways at Olympus Fashion Week, currently under way in Manhattan.
companies eager to cash in again. Not only did they entail more hair, but also lots of sprays and styling products to maintain their poufy, gravity-defying dimensions.

Hoping for a boost
"Big hair is coming back," one retail buyer said. "It's very good news. We could use a boost in our styler segment."

Sales of hair spray and spritz, a key ingredient in big hair, fell 7% to $364.8 million in the 52 weeks ended Aug. 8, the biggest decline of any of the hair-care categories, according to Information Resources Inc. figures, which exclude Wal-Mart Stores, club and dollar stores.

Hoping to promote big hair's bounce, two brands that have been the biggest trendsetters of U.S. mass hair care in recent years -- L'Oreal's Garnier Fructis and Kao Brands' John Frieda -- early next year will launch styling products with "extra hold," aimed squarely at the big-haired. Fructis' big-hair lineup will include Fructis Surf Hair Texturizing Gum, which will make the jump from Europe to the U.S., and XXL Volume hairspray.

'Long and Strong'
Fructis also will launch a "Long and Strong" range of its shampoos and conditioners, retail buyers said, which should also help support big hair. And Procter & Gamble Co.'s Pantene by early next year will add a pomade to its Full & Thick line, which also could support bigger looks.

Frieda already began taking steps in the big-hair direction last year. "Our Sheer Blonde line has a line of stylers that are reflecting the big-hair trend of today," said Brigitte King, associate vice president of marketing for John Frieda.

By December, Unilever's Dove will launch its first U.S. foray into styling aids, with "weightless moisturizers" primed to abet big hair -- or other styles.

Allison Harmon, Unilever hair-care marketing communications director, downplays the big-hair theory. Unilever's stylist advisers are instead predicting more of an "anything goes" outlook, saying the trend will be to go off whatever a person's hair naturally wants to do.

Still a popular look
Though very much in recess, big hair never entirely lost its hold among some women in such middle-American markets as Cincinnati or Erie, Pa. But full-blown outbreaks are rare today, and the big hair of the new century is likely to diverge from the tightly permed, heavily teased and combed-back excesses of the 1980s, according to Cody Kusakabe, a stylist at the Gavert-Atelier salon in Beverly Hills.

Mr. Kusakabe is seeing a surge in nouveau-big-hair styles, but, as implied by the term "surf hair," the looks are messier and more windblown, Mr. Kusakabe said.

But a rising tide, or more precisely, rising hair, may not lift all boats in hair care. While modern big-hair looks are likely to require more spray, mousses and other styling products, they're likely to lead to less spending on shampoos and conditioners than the styles they replace, Mr. Kukasabe said.

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