Coty has moved quickly to refresh some of the brands it acquired after merging with Procter & Gamble in 2016. After its splashy Covergirl relaunch late last year, the beauty giant has moved on to at-home hair-color brand Clairol. Like its sister brand, retailers had been pulling back shelf space for the stale brand at the time of the merger.
This month, the first signs of new life for the brand came via the debut of its “Color of Confidence” campaign, dedicated to rejuvenating interest in its hero line, Nice n’ Easy. In a video that launched on March 14, Clairol spotlights 50 women across a wide range of ethnicities, ages, body types and career paths, sharing their feelings before and after dying their hair. That dying your hair can make a woman feel better about herself is the overall sentiment.
So far, the video has garnered over 6 million views on YouTube, beating even the buzzy relaunch video for Covergirl starring celebs like Issa Rae, which has garnered 5.1 million views since November. It’s also being shown on Clairol’s website.
The time is ripe for a change, given the at-home hair-care market’s standstill: 12-week sales in the category at chain stores, for the period ending January 28, were flat, according to IRI. That digital-first brands like Madison Reed and eSalon are encroaching on the market certainly doesn’t help those like Clairol which have long relied on the drugstore channel.
Still, the hair color market overall is set to grow: It was valued at roughly $22 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach $32 billion by 2021.
A still from Clairol’s new campaign video
The goal of the revamp is twofold, according to Rosi Ajjam, Coty’s svp of retail hair: to introduce a less-damaging, easier-to-apply product and to reframe the narrative around hair dye, from one of hiding your truth to, instead, “revealing it.”
“Historically, women dyed their hair primarily to cover grays, and they did it in a very secretive way,” said Ajjam. “But that message has evolved, and consumers are interested in showing off their new looks.”
Indeed, more young consumers are unabashedly experimenting with semi-permanent dyes in wilder shades like pink and blue, a trend which Clairol addressed last July when it launched its Color Crave line. But Ajjam believes most consumers (80 percent, per Coty’s research) are still seeking out natural-looking, permanent color.
“We feel it’s our responsibility to reignite this category,” she said.
Although the marketing revamp has only been underway for about a year and a half, Nice n’ Easy’s product reformulation has been in the works for 20 years. Once Clairol joined the Coty family of brands, however, its speed to market increased.
Meant to address common customer concerns around hair damage, and the smelly and messy experience involved in at-home hair care, it’s been reformulated to block damage, drip less and have a fresh, floral scent. It’s also said to reduce the risk of allergic reactions.
“We’re trying to make it a better experience,” said Ajjam.
That has also involved new packaging. In place of the sterile white boxes it once relied on, the Nice n’ Easy line now comes in pink, floral-decorated boxes. The brand name is emblazoned in gold, rather than a dull silver, and Nice n’ Easy is written in a curvier font. The box also places more emphasis on the product’s “natural looking” results, as well as the conditioners involved to protect from damage. While some of the models on the packages remain the same, more have been added to the mix for the sake of diversity.
“We’re no longer focusing solely on the product and how it performs, but the emotional benefits of hair color, and how we can help eliminate some [dye-related] fears to help you live your truth,” explained Ajjam, pointing to the Color in Confidence campaign, which was spearheaded by the trendy design firm R/GA.
It was supported by a study of 100 women led by Clairol, which found that 85 percent felt more confident after coloring and 70 percent said they felt ready for anything (like asking for a raise or speaking up in a meeting), among many other pro–hair dye sentiments.
Revamped packaging for Clairol’s Nice n’ Easy line
“Everything we’re sharing is really based on their point of view,” said Ajjam.
Social listening and focus groups also informed the campaign.
The revamped product is in the midst of redistribution, a process that is 80 percent complete and set to finalize in the next month or so. Distribution for the line — which sells at chains like Walmart and Target — hasn’t changed, though Clairol intends to ramp up its e-commerce presence in the coming year. (It currently sells online via its partners, like the aforementioned, only.) Prices are also the same.
A pop-up feting the launch, dubbed The Loft by Clairol, kicked off on Friday in New York’s Soho neighborhood and will remain until April 1. Meant to educate consumers about the brand changes and the science behind the reformulation, no product is being sold at the space. Instead, events will be held over the course of the 10 days by people like Clairol’s color ambassador Shirley Gordon and its color director James Corbett.
With Nice n’ Easy’s revamp now underway, the company will begin focusing on a refresh of its Root Touch Up line, with plans to roll out a new concealing powder within that family soon.
“We pride ourselves on knowing the beauty category inside and out, and want to ensure we’re launching stuff that truly resonates with them,” said Ajjam.