“Fashion couture has come to hair couture,” said Shama Dalal, head of marketing at Henkel Consumer Brands that owns global haircare brand Schwarzkopf. “Fashion shades are outperforming the base blacks and dark browns and people are opting for lighter, quirky shades.”
Sales of fashion shades grew 40% between September last year and this year, although on a much lower base, compared with 26% growth in base shades during the same period, executives at India’s leading hair care companies said, citing industry data. DP Sharma, director, professional products division, L’Oréal India, said there is “a noticeable shift in consumers’ willingness towards exploring wider colour palettes”.
“The demographic inclined towards embracing fashion shades encompasses the younger cohort who are willing to experiment,” he said. “This surge can be attributed to a combination of factors such as increased hairdresser education, heightened consumer awareness, and the informed guidance of experienced hairdressers.”
L’Oréal is one of the largest hair colouring product companies in India.
Other major players in this space include Godrej Consumer Products, Revlon, Streax, CavinKare and Wella.“Inspiration from fashion ramps is translating into consumer preferences, and clothes, makeup and hair have come together as one look,” Dalal of Henkel said. “Topping that is the influence of the hairdresser.” Social media, exposure to international content, and trends relevant to Indian skin tones are also driving this change, she added.
All that is driving the willingness to experiment among Indians, particularly younger ones. “People are open to experimenting with new experiences,” social commentator Santosh Desai said. “They are doing this but not exactly defying norms – they are experimenting but within boundaries,” he added. “We are seeing this across categories.”
While a sizeable portion of the Indian consumers maintain a preference for base shades, the demand for black is slowing as many people are sticking with their grey hair after giving up hair colouring during the pandemic.
A service executive at Geetanjali salon, a premium chain of salons in Delhi-NCR, told ET that a significant number of urban Indian women are opting not to cover their greying hair.
The professional hair styling market in the country is estimated at Rs 2,100 crore, while the overall hair colour market is valued in excess of Rs 5,000 crore as a lot of people colour their hair at home, according to market research firm Mintel.
Industry executives said organised players as well as specialised hairdressing salons at hyperlocal levels are growing in double digits in response to consumer demand.
According to a Mintel report, the hair colour category is expected to grow at 17.5% annually until 2026, after growing at 12-14% till 2019.
The shift is also driving an explosion in related sectors such as hair protection and serums. “Frequent hair colouring is increasingly popular among youngsters,” said Mohit Yadav, cofounder of beauty brand Minimalist. “Due to this, we have witnessed more than 50% growth mainly from the 18-24 age group for our Maleic Bond repair com-plex hair serums.”
He said the product repairs hair bond damage caused by styling, colouring and UV exposure. “We’re confident in the continued growth of our hair care solutions, especially in the younger demographic,” Yadav said.
Dutch hair cosmetics company Keune, which formalised an exclusive distribution and marketing collaboration with the homegrown distribution and marketing company Maison D’ Auraine this August, is projecting to touch Rs 500 crore in sales in three years, given the potential of the India market.
Arpit Jain, managing director of Maison D’ Auraine, said in an interview with ET while announcing the collaboration: “Maison D’ Auraine works with about 10,000 salons and is expanding to 25,000 salons in two years. Collaboration between the two companies will focus on grooming hair artists and setting up education academies.”