Niche products continue to drive hair styling growth

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Hair styling products Hairstyle

The rise and rise of niche hair styling products is continuing to
drive modest growth in the category, but this belies big changes in
consumer spend patterns, demographic shifts and the type of styling
products consumers want to buy.

According to Euromonitor International's latest figures, consumer spend on hair styling agents rose from €1.476bn in 2004 to reach €1.504bn in 2005, growth that was driven by the continued emergence of niche products serving specific styling requirements.

But beneath the modest growth, there is plenty happening in this category. One trend is the switch from department and beauty stores to larger discount outlets.

Latest research from Research and Markets suggests that this means volume sales of gel and mousse at department and beauty stores have declined by 10 per cent in the past five years, a fall that is to the benefit of the larger discount outlets.

But all is not lost, as the Research and Market's latest report, entitled Hair Styling Products in the US, suggests that as the category segmentation continues in the future, this will also lead to further growth opportunities.

The research company's report points to the fact that volume sales of spray and spritzer - generally more popular with older consumers - declined by 20 per cent over the same period, suggesting that one of the key factors for this decline is the changing deomographics in the US.

Put basically an aging US population means that the spend on this type of hair styling products is decreasing. Older consumers tend to have either less hair and also wear it shorter to keep it more manageable. This translates as a significant reduction in the volume of hair styling products compared to the younger generation who are often more style and appearance conscious.

Likewise, the report also highlights the fact that in the US consumers have started to go for softer, straighter and more natural-looking hairstyles, which means consumers are using fewer products, translating into the lower spend pattern.

But the report says that there is hope for the industry in the future if it manages to tap into the current demographic and styling trends and use those to its advantage.

This means that companies would do well to concentrate on products that are focused on current styling trends. Some of the fastest selling styling products have proved to be those that deal with straightening or calming hair.

This includes brands such as FrizzEase, which have gone from being small niche brands to mainstream household names in the space of ten years and are now vying for shelf space with some of the leading mainstream hairstyling brands.

Likewise companies would also do well to tap into the market for styling products aimed at older consumers. Although the spend is less on such products, companies would do well to market products that address specific styling issues for the growing older population.

Staying on the subject of demographics, a growing Hispanic population is also likely to drive sales for styling products. This is a predominantly young population with a high spend on specific and niche hair styling products, such as straighteners.

Companies would also do well to look at the hair gel and mousse segment, which is the only segment currently bucking the downward trend. But making up 61 per cent of the total category, this segment has grown 5.5 per cent since 2003 the research reveals.

Likewise gels and mousse carry higher prices than sprays and spritzes, which means that they are a potentially more lucrative market to get into. According to IRI, the average price of 16-ounces of hair spray/spritz in 2005 was $1.85 lower than the same portion of gel/mousse.

Likewise there is also likely to be a growing micro segmentation of the market, reflecting trends in the shampoo and conditioning hair care category.

Indeed some manufacturers have already launched innovative styling products, including Estee Lauder's Control Tape, which is run through wet hair and Charles Worthington's H20 Styling strips, which is meant for on-the-go consumers.

The hair styling category is complex and, with hair fashions constantly changing, it is also a difficult market to predict. However, concentrating on the underlying issues of shifting retail spend patterns and demographic issues such as the aging populations and the rise of the Hispanic market are likely to prove winning formulas.

Related topics Hair Care

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