The wider availability of relaxants and perms — which largely are geared toward African-American hair — coupled with consumers seeking greater value due to a challenging economy has helped fuel sales of the niche segment.
“Due to the economic downturn, African-American women are also visiting the salon less frequently and using more at-home products,” stated research firm Euromonitor International in its 2010 U.S. Hair Care report. “The natural/organic trend has been prevalent in this subsector, as such products are gentler on African-American hair than traditional hair care products, which tend to be heavily chemically formulated.”
Euromonitor International noted that relaxants and perms — which tend to be sold in barter shops and specialty beauty supply stores, but have gained greater interest among drug stores and mass merchants — were the fastest-growing subsector in 2009, with a 2% boost in value sales. For example, Namasté Labs’ Organic Root Stimulator with olive oil averaged double-digit growth between 2005 and 2009. According to SymphonyIRI Group, sales of Organic Root Stimulator hair relaxer kits rose 7.5% for the 12 weeks ended April 17 at food, drug and mass (excluding Walmart).
In October 2010, Namasté Labs expanded the brand portfolio with the launch of its new Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Girls built-in protection plus no-lye conditioning relaxer system. The kit retails for $7.99. There’s also Olive Oil Girls hair pudding for $5.99 and moisturizing styling lotion for $5.39. The products are sold at Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, Target, Rite Aid and beauty and barber supply stores.
Earlier this year, ethnic hair care brand Soft Sheen-Carson, which is part of the consumer products division of L’Oréal USA, launched its new Dark and Lovely Healthy-Gloss 5 relaxer and maintenance hair care system. The Healthy-Gloss 5 Relaxer (regular, super and color-treated) promises to preserve all five signs of healthy hair with a silk keratin serum and exclusive SatinOil (for color-treated hair).
The Healthy-Gloss 5 lineup, available in mass market outlets and beauty supply stores, also includes shampoo, conditioner, leave-in treatment and hair cream for intense moisture. To help promote the new products, SoftSheen-Carson tapped Bria Murphy, daughter of celebrity Eddie Murphy and model Nicole Murphy, to be the new global ambassador for Dark and Lovely.
Meanwhile, on a slightly different note, ethnic hair care company Johnson Products Co. is targeting the “urban trendsetter” man with the launch earlier this year of its new Ultra Sheen Men collection. The collection includes Super Hold hair dress, Wave Conditioning pomade, Lite Crème moisturizer with shea butter and grooming gel.