The global hair care market was slow to react to evolving consumer demands in 2016. This, coupled with market volatility beyond manufacturers’ control, led to hair care continuing to grow below the beauty industry average. However, hair care concerns are increasingly reflecting those in skin care, offering brands scope to build equity. Healthier practices are rife across both emerging and developed markets, but multinationals need to widen their Western focus before they are outdone by regional
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Globally, hair care products have high penetration and are staples in key markets. However, hair care’s close alignment with discretionary benefits, more than hygiene needs, means that both economic volatility and cyclical trend tend to hit the category relatively hard. As a result, hair care declined in 2016, while the industry overall continued to grow.
As hair care products follow the lead of skin care, they are becoming targeted towards healthy hair and scalp as a prerequisite of good looking hair. Healthy living concerns are ushering in a new normal of therapeutic, deep treatment and defence claims, which command higher prices.
Hair care is predictable in its similarities to the wider beauty sphere – market frontiers are shifting from west to east and, more than ever, innovation must reflect this. Emerging markets are more fragmented than developed ones, and regional knowhow has great potential to knock multinationals off their perch.
At the extreme end of fragmentation are the “indie” start-up brands that have leveraged social media as a marketing platform. With the rise of smaller brands comes the challenge of retail partnerships that allow for small scale – something which beauty specialists are best placed to accommodate.
E-commerce also lends itself naturally to the needs of the host of new brands entering the market. Moreover, it could finally facilitate the “democratisation” of professional salon brands, expanding distribution extensively. This platform also opens borders, allowing more seamless expansion into new markets.