Conair Brings Japanese Mystique To Hair-Care Market

Times sure have changed. Back in the 1960s, American consumers thought Japanese products were flimsy and cheap. Then in the 1970s they considered them durable and practical. For most of the 1980s the Eastern imports were smart, compact and affordable. Now Japanese merchandise is luxurious and expensive.

One American company hoping to capitalize on this shift in perception is the Conair Corp., which is marketing a line of five hair-care products under the Ginza brand name. The line was introduced in July, and the launch has been so successful that the company plans new Ginza products next year.

Print ads that broke in September issues of magazines such as Vogue and Cosmopolitan tout Ginza’s Eastern ingredients, such as ginseng and jasmine. The ads also imply that the brand will provide Occidental users with the same rich luster found in Oriental hair.

“The Orient has made tremendous inroads in this country,” says Jaime Morozowski, Conair’s vice president of marketing, citing the proliferation of Oriental perfumes, cosmetics, cars and food. In addition, he says, Oriental hair is perceived as being extremely thick and healthy by the 18-to-34-year-old women Conair hopes to reach.

The Ginza line includes a shampoo, conditioner, deep-penetrating conditioner, designing spritz and finishing gel. They are packaged in sleek black bottles or tubes decorated with colorful Oriental fans. The products cost between $3 and $3.50, and they are distributed through major drugstore chains and mass merchants such as Walgreens and Wal-Mart.

Morozowski says the Stamford, Conn. company spent about a year bringing Ginza to market, and focus groups that tried the line reportedly liked the shampoo’s pearly texture, violet color and aromatic fragrance.

To wedge its way into the ever-more-crowded $3-billion hair-care market, Conair is placing coupons good for $1 off the price of any Ginza product in ads and freestanding inserts. A national rebate program offers consumers $3 back on the purchase of any two items. Trial sizes of shampoo and spritz are also available for 99 cents.

The company is also providing countertop display and point-of-purchase rebate information at stores and asking retailers to group the products together on store shelves.

hair care