How IGK plans to modernize to at-home hair dye

IGK hair-care brand has expanded to at-home hair dye, aiming to bring a youthful and modern approach to a centuries-old category.

Launched in early January, the 25-shade range includes traditional brunette, blonde, black and red shades, as well as creative colors like rosy pink, lavender and gray-silver. Each box is $25. The company launched the products at Ulta Beauty, with hopes that they’ll expand to Ulta within Target, as well. Other IGK hair-care products sell through Sephora, Ulta Beauty, Ulta within Target, Amazon and on-demand delivery platform GoPuff. IGK is distributed in over 1,000 salons and retailers and operates three of its own salons in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami. Dan Langer, president at IGK-owner Luxury Brand Partners, declined to share expected sales figures for the color category.

“It’s a youthful and of-the-moment approach to hair color. It’s really about creating and establishing what the brand is and the color identities and making it fun,” said Langer.

Chase Kusero, co-founder of IGK and a master colorist, said the decision to launch at-home hair dye came after noticing that IGK hair colorists were sending their own at-home dye kits to clients when IGK salons were closed in early 2020. Kusero said coloring is the most popular salon service, with 90% of all salon clients coming in for color and 60% of staff focused on color. This product launch is designed for customers who already do their hair at home and want something more interesting than what is already available.

“The category has been very stale for the last 20 years. The market is owned by Garnier, L’Oréal and Nice & Easy — old brands with bad packaging and outdated formulas,” said Kusero. “We thought it was the time to create something that people would be able to do themselves, but make it a little bit cooler and more interesting, and with cleaner formulas.”

The packaging was also updated for modern consumers. The names of shades are more playful, as well: A lavender shade is called “Astro Babe,” and a light brown is called “French Riveria.” And instead of showing models sporting the hair colors, the secondary packaging features a swatch of dyed hair alongside a picture of a similar-shaded object or pattern, like a close up of a crystal for “Astro Babe” or sequins for a golden light brown shade called “Mystic Love.” And the design of the instructions inside was inspired by board games, said Kusero.

“We wanted to show the hair and keep it clean and fresh looking, as opposed to putting a model image on the box that’s going to get old with time,” he said.

According to data from The NPD Group, the hair-dye category experienced a 17% lift in year-over-year sales between Jan. 2021 and Nov. 2021, and a 77% increase compared to the same time in 2019. This stat is less surprising when considering the innovation in the space over the past four years, ranging from new brands, like Josh Wood Colour which debuted in 2018), to new tools: L’Oréal launched a hair dye applicator in early January at CES. Madison Reed saw explosive growth, and Gen-Z icons like singer Billie Eilish who continuously rock new hair shades have served as a driving force. The creative color space has mainly seen interest among younger consumers. Ulta Beauty noted in its 2022 beauty predictions that hair colors like pale pink blonde, “soft apricot” and even grey are set to gain traction in 2022. 

IGK ventured into new marketing territory to stir up excitement for the launch: NFTs. IGK opted to craft an online scavenger hunt using NFTs as prizes, which began in Dec. 2021. The company posted clues across its Instagram and TikTok channels hinting at the playful shade names. Anyone who found a clue was directed to a microsite to learn about the new color line and encouraged to enter an email to unlock special rewards. For those who entered, 25 people were chosen to win an IGK NFT, an IGK At-Home Color Kit in a shade of their choice, a bundle of core IGK care products, and a personal color or styling consultation with an online IGK advisor. Everyone who entered the sweeps also received a 15% discount on their first Home Color Kit on IGKHair.com.

“Our customers live online. They’re hyper digitally savvy, and they’re young millennials or Gen Z. We wanted to do something that could just let them have a moment of fun — and hair colors is fun, so we thought this was the perfect pairing,” said Langer.

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