Dry Idea: Alberto Culver Pitches Waterless Shampoo

Noting the recent popularity of the so-called “French shower,” Alberto Culver is launching a dry shampoo for consumers interested in saving time or water, or trying to avoid overwashing.

TreSemme Fresh Start will launch with a direct response TV campaign—the first for the brand—from DraftFCB. The initial ad encourages women to “never hide your hair again” because “getting refreshed, full-bodied hair has never been so simple.”

Jessica Donoghue, marketing manager for TreSemme global, said the launch stemmed from research that showed that roughly half of U.S. women don’t shampoo daily. “They skip for a lot of reasons,” she said, adding that women often adhere to their stylists’ advice about preserving hair color, texture and styles—not to mention water damage—by skipping the wash.

The company, then, saw an opportunity. “We understood that when she skips a shampoo, she doesn’t want the negatives that come with it,” Donoghue said. (Read: Side effects of not shampooing: greasy hair, an “unpleasant scent” and hair that’s limpy.)

Since dry shampoos aren’t available in mass channels, the TreSemme campaign is largely educational. Teen beauty books like Seventeen have written about the new Fresh Start products. Alberto Culver is also running digital ads and “shelf-talk” in-store units that instruct the consumer on how to select the right item, said TreSemme U.S. marketing manager Jamie Schwab.

The goal, he said, is to inform consumers that “just because [the product she picked] is the wrong one for her, it doesn’t mean Fresh Start is the wrong brand for her.”

Dry shampoo is a growing, albeit niche market, with sales estimated to reach $46.8 million in 2010, according to a March 2009 Euromonitor report. Mintel, another market research firm located in Chicago, said the number of new product launches in this category has been steadily growing. Over the past decade, there have been 40 dry shampoo launches. The peak, however, came in 2007, when there were seven such product introductions, mostly in specialty channels.

Last year, that number was 11, and so far, there’s been three such launches this year, including Fresh Start, said Taya Tomasello, a senior analyst with Mintel.

Globally, the trend is pretty much the same: 13 such launches in 2008, 47 in 2009 and nine thus far in 2010. In markets like the United Kingdom, however, dry shampoo exists as more of a mass market product. (Sephora, for instance, markets it under a private label store brand.)

So why hasn’t it taken off in the U.S.? One reason may be that dry shampoo, in its earliest days, was used by the elderly and those who couldn’t easily bathe to freshen their hair. Travelers also often used it when they couldn’t hit the wash. Such stigmas in the category are changing, however. Specialty salons like New York-based Bumble and bumble, for example, are giving dry shampooing a “hip” spin.

Bumble and bumble company president Peter Lichtenthal said in recent years that dry shampoo has evolved from something that just satisfies basic, “utilitarian needs to a very important styling product.” Observing that change, Bumble and bumble introduced a styling counter inside the Bloomingdale’s on 59th Street and Lexington Avenue in New York, where
consumers can sit down, pay $35 and have a personal stylist create a new look on the spot.

Lichtenthal sees the branded companies’ entries as an “about time” move. Mainstream competitors’ entries like Alberto Culver’s will likely boost awareness of the whole category, including niche brands, Lichtenthal said. It’ll also help fuel “hunger for the usage of these types of products in more advanced, artistic ways, which is what we offer,” he said.

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