F is for From-Salon-to-Mass: Is Nexxus at Drugstores the Same as Nexxus at Salon?

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Nexxus Therappe Luxurious Hydrating Shampoo

Nexxus hair care is celebrating its first year of mass-retail availability. A salon-exclusive brand until last November, Nexxus now sells at drugstores and retailers such as Wal-Mart across North America, and for about half what it cost at hair salons.

"The first question we always get from consumers when they find out they can buy Nexxus at the drugstore is, 'is this the same stuff?" says Jim Gibson, director of marketing for Alberto Culver Canada, the company that owns the line. (Interestingly, no-one asks Dior whether the brand's cosmetics at Shoppers Drug Mart is the same as its product at Holt Renfrew.)

The answer is yes: the Nexxus formulas at mass are exactly the same as the salon-exclusive formulas. "Nobody would put a downgraded product into stores. It hurts the brand," Gibson stresses. "Loyal users would just stop buying it."

But do loyal users want to buy it from the drugstore instead of their salon? Gibson says yes, and it's not because the price is lower than it would be at the hairdresser's. Instead, it's about convenience. "I like that if I need something when I'm on a shoot, I can just run to a store down the street to get it," pro hair/makeup artist Tony Masciangelo told a room of editors during a styling demo a couple of days ago (we'll return to this in a bit). "I don't have to hunt around to find a salon who carries it."

According to Gibson, "For consumers who regularly buy salon hair care, price is lower down on the consideration list when it comes to why they're loyal to a brand. The first is results, whether the products work." In fact, he says, the drop in price actually makes people suspicious -- they wonder how the products now cost them half what they used to.

Nexxus is more affordable at drugstores because selling there is less expensive all around. With just one mass retail account, such as, say, Shoppers, Alberto Culver can put product in front of a lot of consumers without needing a middle-man. When it comes to the hair styling industry, getting product into a lot of small, independent salons means a lot of small, independent accounts; it's more efficient for Alberto Culver to work with a distributor... which puts its own markup on the merchandise. And from the distributor to salon, the merch gets marked up again to cover the salon's costs/overhead. "A smaller store needs a higher profit margin because they can only sell so much," adds Gibson.  "Drugstores sell on a much larger scale, so they don't need as high a margin."

Tony Masciangelo for Nexxus and Patrick Reynolds for CityLine

Back to Tony Masciangelo, spokesperson for Nexxus Canada and one of our star editorial hair/makeup artists. Masciangelo is the owner of The Alcorn, a hair salon in Toronto, and recently won top honours as Elite Master Stylist, a by-nomination-only category at the recent Contessa Awards, (Canada's national hair-salon industry awards -- this year's judges included ex-"What Not to Wear" stylist Nick Arrojo, current WNTN stylist Ted Gibson, and celeb stylist Sally Hershberger). You've seen his work in and on the covers of mags such as FASHION, FLARE, GLOW and Wedding Bells.

Tony Masciangelo Nexxus

As mentioned a few paragraphs back, earlier this week Masciangelo demonstrated the effectiveness of a couple of new Nexxus products slated for January release. What made the demos most interesting is that he didn't do everyday pretty hair. Instead, in a remarkably short amount of time, he showed us decidedly editorial looks (above) to prove Nexxus is a professional brand with the quality to serve his artistry as well as his efficiency. (Masciangelo's note to wanna-be editorial -- also as known as session -- stylists: the less time it takes you to do the hair, the more time the photographer has to shoot the model and your work.)

Here, now have a look at the beautiful images that won Masciangelo his Elite Master Stylist award. This is the kind of hair styling that a few years back made me ask for a Contessa Award category to honour our best editorial/session hair artists.

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Nexxus event images courtesy of Alberto Culver Canada.