Monday, April 20, 2009

Does Hair Care Packaging Affect Your Buying Habits?

Hair care lines are infamous for the old packaging switch-a-roo.If a product line isn't performing up to certain standards or sales are slumping, they will add a splash of new color or slightly change the package on the same old product to make it look new and fresh.Somehow this must work marketing wise, or they wouldn't invest in the changes.So how much do these package changes influence your buying decisions? Probably more than you realize sadly enough.

TIGI is probably the king of all packaging marketing.From the boldly white pink and silver S-Factor line to the unique shapes,colors and names of the Bed Head line as well as their new Rockaholic products,TIGI screams "I'm unique and new".Appealing to your sense of fun both with packaging and fruity scents that you can smell before you open the bottle.What's not to love? Their product lines are diverse and unique as well.And they keep adding to their product lines without axing 10 other products to make room for a new one.The unique packing makes it easy for you to find the product you love at a glance without reading 10 similar bottles to find the right one. I think alot of manufacturers should take a que from TIGI as far as that goes.

The down side? So many products makes each salon pick and choose what they can carry according to shelving space.The items don't shelve neatly and closely and are not ideal for "product per inch" issues.This can cause salons to opt not to carry a product based on the fact that a short, wide bottle containing a wonderful product takes up more space than a tall slender decent product in the same price range.So your choices may be limited and unpredictable.Also with SOME TIGI products I have noticed a lack of quality with sprayers and nozzles etc.Are they spreading themselves too thin to provide quality product, quality packaging and fair prices?

In total opposition to TIGI is lines like Paul Mitchell.Back in the day Paul Mitchell built its brand line and reputation by using stark black and white bottles.This screamed "We care more about our product than fancy packaging".So in a way by stripping their bottles down to basic black and white, in a time where fancy pretty bottles were all the rage, put the focus on their line as "superior". Other lines followed suit with the back to basics method of marketing. Brands like Artec Textureline also became known for their black and white packaging techniques.Even lines like and Kenra, Nioxin,Biosilk and Joico keep minimalistic approaches to the every day glitz and glam choosing to keep their all their products in virtually the same bottles.Joico does have some range of color in their bottles but overall the packaging does not change much. These bottles are great for display generally due to the fact they are easy to keep neatly lined up and look clean and sleek.The problem lies when the customer (you) approaches an overwhelming sea of bottles that all look the same.You can never find exactly the right item easily without spending forever reading each and every bottle.OH, and the fine print as well.You see a can of hair spray that LOOKS like the right one only to get home and figure out the can of firm hold hair spray you were wanting is actually a soft hold that does nothing for your hair.Why do they do this to us? Paul Mitchell has over the last few years finally figured out that maybe the solid black and white bottles aren't ideal for customer selection and has been color coding their products that go together with a flashy lime green or vivid purple accent.Fancy nozzles added makes selections even easier.Paul Mitchell has not followed the black and white trends with their other line Modern Elixirs but the Tea Tree line has virtually the same dull drama as the black and white bottles.

Personally I love the packaging on Redken.You know when you go in that green is curls, golden bottles are for softness etc.They try
to make their line user friendly as well as appealing to the eye without gimmicky adverts.Sleek and sophisticated and great products
as well.For a mid priced salon product I really have nothing negative to say about Redken at all. The number system on their styling products is ingenious.If properly displayed, you can find your product by number easily without having to read each bottle.Every item is unique in what it does.Theres no XX product in 4 formulations for you to decide upon.They do branch out from time to time with mini lines like Urban Experiment but those are easy to shop as well with unique bottle shapes and catchy names that are easy to remember.

Then there are the faux organics lines in every salon.

The ones that scream " LOOK I'M NATURAL".Matrix Biolage was one of the first lines to try this approach out on the public and it worked beautifully.Matrix was originally known for its big black VAVOOM can of
spray .The Biolage flew off the shelves and suddenly everyone wanted botanical herbs and extracts on their hair.NEXXUS changed all their
products slightly and marketed it as Phyto Organics attempting to catch on the "all natural" wave.The problem is, they changed all the old favorites and put the original packaging in stores like Costco! So what incentive do customers have to buy a different version of their old favorite when their original favorite was even more readily available? So are you drawn to the product with the picture of a flower because it just seems better? Or are you really interested in organic hair products and natural herbs and extracts. I have a news flash for you, virtually every hair care product has some sort of herb or extract in it.Read the label dont let an advertisement do the reading for you.Organic while good for the earth, is still a gimmick to get you to buy a product. There are still chemicals in organic products. Your not washing your hair with 100 % pure organic dandelion juice.

Graham Webb's Back To Basics line is also one of these "lets put a flower on it" lines. A revamp of the line with more colorful packaging has brought some life back to the Back To Basics Products.It amazes me that Back To Basics is still alive and doing well.I mean no doubt there are some good products in the line, but when you compare it to other GWI lines it pales in comparison.They have made some incredible products that have been discontinued to make way for a new "flowered" product that I consider sub-par at best.
Then there are the ever changing chameleons of products.Famous for their ever changing product lines, formulations and packages are Sebastian and Graham Webb.While these lines keep their basics the same generally they revamp and redo their side lines.Discontinuing products like mad trying to find new lines to catch on and make the fast cash. This has lead to the rise and fall of many great lines like XTah, Nolita, Head Games and many many more.Sebastian has recently been repackaging even old standards like Shaper hairspray! SOS, different bottle.I imagine this new packaging of Sebastian will not last long either due to some major issues with the design elements of the bottles.It seems they tried to make the new bottles look sleeker and unique by a different shape and texture of plastic.The new bottles have a grit almost like a rubber which make the bottles very hard to keep dust free.They also made them smaller at the
bottom and larger at the top so when you slightly bump into one they all fall like Domino's.GENIUS ! People are not going to want
to walk within 10 feet of a Sebastian display after the first time they knock 50 bottles off the shelf.Never mind the issues this will present in the shower! Mark my words, Ive seen enough product line changes to know when something is going to flop.They will be making revisions as soon as they finish putting this packaging out so don't get too comfortable.The new line isn't overly welcoming in appearance either.I think a refining of the old product packaging or making a whole new line would have been better than taking the same exact product that people buy because they are comfortable with, putting it in a new stuffy , attemptingly sleek package, raising prices and marketing it as NEW! Sebastian is a great product line, and I think they feel their issues are with visual marketing.Maybe they are right and the US will catch on to what most European countries already know about this great line!

Let us not forget "elitism".Product lines that gear themselves to be only for elite salons for special people.Pureology was one of these lines until the Loreal buyout and is now becoming more main stream.Aveda products are touted as "exclusive" and are only available through Aveda salons.Many private lines like Bumble and Bumble, Peter Coppola and more began in private salons and are now more and more readily available to the masses.Are these private labels better than other lines simply because they are seemingly "exclusive"? As these lines eventually are bought out and marketed to more and more people do they suddenly become not as good as before?

There are alot of smaller manufacturers out there that carry good products as well but are marketed in a totally different way.Alot of
companies like KMS, Kenra, Aquage, RUSK and Joico have chosen to market mainly to the professional.Pushing their product lines on
stylist by way of classes that preach "WE ARE THE BEST SELL US" and giving away masses of stylist samples to get us to use their
products. Making deals with salons to carry their lines and preaching a holier than thou attitude toward other lines. These
companies count on the stylist to sell them which is a much cheaper, but more difficult sales tactic but a sales tactic all the same.

And of course the bonus for all you readers who muddled through all these ramblings, SEX. Who knew all along that all you needed to spice up your love life was good hair! Bottles that make you think....where did you say I put this? Sexy people performing experiments in urban settings, and bottles that just come out and say "HEY I'M SEXY LOOK AT ME" So when you walk into a salon is your eye automatically drawn to the monochromatic bottles that say nothing, or the bottle that looks like it came from an adult bookstore?

So what do I think is the best line overall through all the BS that is marketing?I have never found one line that I feel has the all the best of the best.I don't believe in using anything because it looks fun or smells good, is elite, is pushed on me,looks more professional, looks like a good time or is readily available in every single salon. What works for me, may not work for you.Mixing and matching is half the fun anyway! As always don't buy ANYTHING you don't know how to use.I do believe in trying something new from time to time.I believe in old favorites. I believe in testing similar products. Don't say "Oh I only use XX line". Test hair spray against hairspray, shampoo against shampoo. Superior products exist in almost every hair care line so don't fall for all the hype.

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