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Popular Hair Products That Get The Axe

Just like new television shows that start all shiny and new in the Fall Season, catch your interest, then suddenly get cancelled, hair care products sometimes suffer the same fate.

While it's possible you might be able to read about why a network pulled the plug on a TV show, its unlikely hair consumers will get a straight answer on the reasons behind why their favorite products are disappearing from shelves or on the Web.

As an online retailer with more than ten years experience selling a wide range of hair care products, I can definitely offer some insights into why some beloved hair care products do a unexpected disappearing act.

Listed below are some of the most common reasons for hair care product death:

1.  The Products Do Not Sell As Well As Expected.

Just as ratings are a key factor for whether a TV show survives, product sales determine whether a hair care product line will continue to be produced.  This is often most true of small boutique or celebrity lines.

Hair care products launched by huge corporations like Proctor & Gamble (P&G) might be given a lot more time to "find their audience" of hair care fans.  Obviously P&G has very deep pockets to advertise and promote a new hair care offering, which literally costs many millions of dollars to unveil.

Smaller boutique manufacturers are sometimes operating on a shoestring.  If a product doesn't hit quickly, it gets dumped.  This is especially true of celebrity hair care lines or similar lines launched with very tight marketing budgets. Nowadays it takes many millions of dollars to successfully market to a very crowded hair care product world.

Products win at the check out counters.  If a product is not selling well, it's in immediate danger.

2.  Long Term Popular Products Are Killed By Competition

The second most common reason a product gets the axe is due to competition.  I've seen this happen many times over the past ten years.

A beloved consumer product is knocked off or copied by a competitor or competitors who offers a similar or even better product for less money, more features or better marketing campaigns.

The hair care product market is extremely competitive.  When one company uncovers a new niche hair care product market, it doesn't take long before all the key players, like L'Oreal, Estee Lauder and P&G, are rushing their own entries to market.

A primary example of this is the naturally curly market.  Ten years ago there were a very small number of companies like Ouidad (one of my personal favs) that offered products specifically designed for naturally curly hair consumers.  Today the market is literally bursting at the seams with all the available natural curl focused lines.

Ultimately the marketplace becomes overly saturated. Consumers become confused by too many offerings.  Some of the very first products in that hair care category are killed off because they lose their initial market share.  Which again goes back to lost sales.

When you find specific hair care lines from companies that have survived for many years that speaks volumes.  Not only did it mean that offer superior products that are not easily copied but that they are committed to continuing to promote and market their brands.

3.  Product Ingredients Become Too Expensive To Continue Producing

Some hair care products are introduced with exotic ingredients which might be quite expensive to include in the formula.  However, the ingredients were initially added to help set the product apart from the rest of the pack.

Unfortunately, over time, the exotic ingredient or ingredients might become extremely expensive resulting in constant price increases for the line.

Consumers have a history of abandoning hair care lines that consistently raise prices on a constant basis.  At some point they either find a similar but less expensive offering or decide the exotic ingredients are not all that special. At least not for the price of the item in question.

As a result the sales start to slide and the product either offers less exotic substitute ingredients which ultimately change the product or they discontinue the line completely.

4.  Product Lines Are Bought Out & Best Selling Formulas Are Changed

When popular product brands are bought out by other companies anything can happen.  Depending on the original goals of the new company, the original product formulations may be immediately changed to lower the cost of manufacturer and raise the ultimate bottom line for the company.

The original Aveda ("a-váy-duh") hair care line was famous for using only the finest ingredients.  Some of the ingredients were known to be exotic, very expensive and imported from faraway lands.

When Aveda was purchased by Estee Lauder in 1997 many consumers worried that the formulas would change.  Did they?  It depends on whom you talk to about this topic.   Some long time Aveda hair product consumers claimed the products changed after the company was bought.  Of course the company did not agree.

Does this really happen?  It's my opinion based upon my own research that when a line is bought out, the new owners will make changes.  The changes are motivated by a number of reasons such as making the line more profitable by switching out higher priced ingredients for lower priced ones or to make the line more of a commodity product rather than a rare boutique brand.

Ultimately when formulas are changed products may lose their original popularity.  If this happens the products are eventually discontinued.

5.  Hair Care Companies Are Bought Out To Specifically Kill Competition

Sometimes companies buy other companies to whip their competition.  If this is the case, either the entire competitive hair care line is killed off or the most threatening products are dumped. Sometimes only certain products within a line are the offending competitor and these products will be discontinued.

When L'Oreal bought ARTec some years ago some of the ARTec product ingredients were modified (according to industry insiders) and repackaged under the L'Oreal name.  Some of the ARTec product offerings were discontinued.

Why?  It's most likely that L'Oreal eliminated any ARTec products that had been competiting with L'Oreal offerings.  They most likely kept the ARTec products that filled a missing niche in the overall L'Oreal product offerings.

6.  Corporate Politics Change Product Focus

Yes, everything in life can be tied to politics and hair care lines are no different.  Sometimes there is a change in the executive management of a company.  The new guard may decide they want a fresh new image with edgier product offerings.  Older products may be phased out in keeping with the new managements goals for presenting a different consumer image.

Sometimes this corporate philosophy backfires because the new executive management is out of touch with consumer likes and dislikes.  Regardless of the outcome, popular hair care products are the ultimate victims.

7.  Consumer Whims

As the push to go green continues, some hair care products will not be able to survive because of their long term ingredients.

As a result, the manufacturers may decide they can not successfully substitute green ingredients to recreate existing product lines.

Those lines will then be terminated and brand new lines will be offered instead.  Which means beloved products will be discontinued.

8.  Other Possible Reasons Hair Products Get The Axe

While the bottom line is always whether a product is selling well and offers good profits to the key parties involved, there are additional factors that might knock out a line.

These include legal disputes between the manufacturers and the distributors, consumer lawsuits over product ingredients or results (rare but it's happened), inability to survive in a big box store environments such as Ulta, or be picked up by big name distributors.

Some products are designed by "build it and they will come" product developers.  When the consumers don't show up as hoped, the product flops.

This was the case with a hair care product line launched a few years ago built around the concept of cranberry ingredients.  While the product inventor passionately believed cranberries were the wave of the future hair care world, consumers disagreed in droves.

Finally, some companies never have a clear audience focus for their product line and thus keep changing the products, which never find a market.  Or they keep offering the latest whiz bang ingredients but the products never have time to take root.


Of course there are always other random reasons that popular hair care products bite the dust including when the companies owners get divorced and the entire company is dissolved (which has happened).

When it comes to the sale of hair care products there are always lots of things going on behind the scenes that hair consumers are not always privvy too.

If you have your own thoughts about why popular hair products get the axe I would love to hear your feedback.  Please share your own philosophies on this topic.

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