What is Happening on Shelf in Hair Care Now?

What’s “in” this season in hair care? Beautiful hair. Well, let’s face it, that’s the goal for every woman, so it’s always in season.

According to Mintel Research and evidenced on shelf, styling products are leading the hair care category with 36% being ethnic hair care with a daily usage of 78% (based on 2,005 Black internet users aged 18+, May 2013). Hair care manufacturers are continuously searching, developing and launching new products with the hopes of delivering products consumers need, believe in and resonate with. And more importantly, they strive for the belief and proof that products work and they work well as the packaging and marketing says it does.

How are consumers convinced to believe? The proof is in the product. Through product formulas with high efficacy, branding and marketing that resonates with the consumer, and placement/promotion that sells-through. The Collective of Consultants at Shine Beauty Culture Boutique-Beauty Agency perused the shelves this Fall and we discovered common threads in Naturals and Oils, Dual Ingredients and Dual Usage Products, Kits and Hair Re-Growth Products.

Naturals and Oils
Natural, natural, natural—it has never been more prominent on shelves than now. Many food, drug, mass chains and some OTC stores have created “natural” sections to accommodate the non-relaxed/chemical-free consumer (i.e. the consumer looking for the “no harmful ingredient list”). They are looking for no sulfates, parabens, SLS, BHT, silicones, mineral oil, formaldehyde, dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates, etc.
The decline in the relaxer category is attributed to the female consumer transitioning her hair from relaxed to natural, thus relaxing her hair less often or not at all. This consumer is simultaneously looking for the “right” products to manage her transitioning or now natural hair with natural ingredients to align with her newly found chemical-free liberation.

Coconut and Argan are the top two product ingredients across categories. These two ingredients are in everything from shampoos to conditioners to styling and treatment products. You can’t go on a shelf in the US without seeing both of these ingredients in products from well-known top selling manufacturers to new-to-market independent brands.

Coconut Oil has been used for thousands of years. People living in the tropics in particular have used it as a secret hair weapon to produce thick, shiny hair. Research and development hair experts support Coconut Oil as being superior to mineral and safflower oil for rebuilding hair proteins. Coconut Oil not only softens hair and smoothes the hair cuticle for the appearance of healthy hair, it actually boosts hair and scalp health and repairs damaged hair. It helps seal in moisture to help retain proteins, and with antibacterial properties to prevent build-up of dry skin, it protects the scalp and skin infection. Coconut Oil intrinsically has Vitamin E & K naturally found in Coconut Oil.

Argan Oil is the exotic oil of the naturals, rampant across hair care categories in the marketplace. An organic product extracted from the kernels of the Argan tree and native to Morocco, it is extremely rich in beneficial nutrients including fatty acids and vitamin E—key components for hair strength and protection from breakage.

Oils (Protection and Healing)
Oils have been used for centuries as a preventative healing source for mind, body and soul. Oils are known to stimulate hair growth, moisturize and condition (especially when heated as a hot oil treatment), and most include innate vitamins and acids with organic healing elements.

Other top trending natural ingredients in hair care include Olive Oil, Jojoba Oil, Shea Butter, Coco Butter, Soy Oil, Macadamia, Keratin, Moroccan Oil, Castor Oil, Monoi, Peppermint, Tea Tree Oil, Biotin, Collagen and Honeyrose. Oils are top trending ingredients in all hair care sections including naturals. Brands are continuing to discover new, improved and potent oils to resolve hair care needs.

Duals: Ingredients and Usage
The power of two natural ingredients combined in one product is a major trend in hair care. The idea is that two natural ingredients combined is better than one, and can better resolve specific hair care concerns.

Top trending natural ingredient combinations include:
•    Shea Butter and Argan       •    Jojoba and Monoi
•    Keratin and Collagen          •    Coconut and Castor Oil

Products with a “double-duty” usage purpose are another top trend in the marketplace. Products that include doubling the usage are intended to work well and save money by using one product for two concerns. Popular dual usage products include:
•    Cleansing Co-Washes  (light cleansing with conditioning)
•    Heat Protectant and Shine/Gloss Serums

Hair Care Kits
The purpose of a hair care kit is to provide a turn-key home solution to a hair care need, desired look or treatment. The majority of manufacturers encourage a family or system of products intended to work together in synergy. For many years the only kits on the market were relaxer and texturizer kits.  Today, innovation in hair care kits has expanded to other categories:

•    Transitioning Kits—Relaxer to Natural Transitioning Kits are designed to help with ease in the transitioning experience. Most transitioning kits include cleansing, conditioning and styling products along with a transitioning guide with tips.

•    Reversion Products—A new movement in kits are those that promise the ability to maintain the natural curl pattern, yet allow a consumer to go from curly to straight and back again. Ideal for the natural consumer who wishes to wear their hair straight but is concerned about maintaining the integrity of the curl pattern. Some kits boast keratin and formaldehyde-free formulations.

•    Keratin Straightening Kits—At Home Keratin Treatment Straightening Kits.  Some contain Formaldehyde while others contain more natural alternatives. The goal is DIY Brazilian straightening treatments or products in a home kit.

•    Weave—DIY pre-cut weaves with at home application instruction. Most weave kits come in 5 easy to apply pieces with instructions for easy application.

•    Lace Front Wig Kits—Ideal for first time lace front wig users. Most kits contain a scalp protector, adhesive, lace release or a solvent to help remove adhesives,  tape and residue and tape.

•    Single-Application Relaxer Kits—With the relaxer purchase decline, manufacturers are working to reduce their costs as well as minimize the cost for consumers who are using relaxers less. The single application relaxer kit is ideal for women with short hair, the trendy half shaved side of the hair, or women that only relax their edges or texlax. The single-application kit has less product than a normal size relaxer kit and is usually approximately 25% less in cost.

Hair Re-Growth
The multicultural female consumer is on a lifelong quest to grow her hair long and healthy. Hair loss is a serious challenge for many consumers. Partially attributed to the abundance of the senior population, damage from hair tension (braids/weaves), heat damage, over manipulation and hereditary concerns are prominent.

There are many systems/portfolios of products in the marketplace designed to re-grow hair. Most products focus on edges, the middle/top spot on top of the head, scalp health, DHT Blockers, increasing blood flow and strengthening hair.

Two other noteworthy market trends in the marketplace include cross-over appeal—brands in the market place that don’t necessarily market to the multicultural consumer, but are attracting a large percentage of African American consumers. This has created a market share loss for African American targeted brands, and new exploration of products from the consumer. The second notable trend is the plethora of large size packettes in the marketplace. Larger sized packettes (50ml or more) are popping up on shelves; an excellent, new introductory strategy for the trial of new products. Placed near check out or near full sized products, the packette objective is to introduce a low-cost larger than trial size to use until the consumer has committed to a “reason-to-believe.”

With the plethora of new products, methods and applications in the marketplace, there are countless brands who present opportunities for the consumer to accomplish the ultimate in-season look—Beautiful Hair!

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Shine Beauty Culture is a Brand Management Consultancy, Est. in 2007 in NYC by Phylencia "PT" Taylor. Research, Branding, Digital Marketing and Communication Strategies are our core. Inspired by the impact beauty and lifestyle brands transcend to our culture, discovered while working with Fortune 500 Brands for over a decade. When PT isn’t working as a Brand Management Consultant and Researcher, she’s an Adjunct Professor within USG, Editorial Director for a custom beauty publication, Entrepreneur and Mom living Atlanta, Ga. Go to ShineBeautyCulture.com and Follow on Instagram: @ShineBeautyCulture.