Redken Casts Wide Net for MenMen's grooming is new territory for many product developers eager to cash in on this quickly growing category. Just a few years ago, no one would have thought you could sell eye cream to guys, but they were proven wrong. Makeup for men, on the other hand, hasn't quite caught on yet.
A let's-see-what-sticks attitude is also present among beauty marketers who suddenly find themselves trying to talk with guys about hair gel.
To promote Redken for Men -- a new line of grooming products from salon hair-care manufacturer Redken, which is a division of beauty behemoth L'Oreal -- the company's marketing team devised a yearlong series of events covering everything from sampling and gift-with-purchases to guerrilla marketing and online sweepstakes.
"This is a very experimental time for us," said Shae Kalyani, vice president of media for Redken. "We'll see what works, and next year we'll strategically put more money into those elements that did well for us."
The goal is to "get as many samples as possible into the hands of consumers," continued Kalyani. She noted that research shows 60 percent of men will buy a men's grooming product that they've sampled.
The company plans to hand out 1.5 million full- and trial-sized samples this year on college campuses and in fraternities, at Gay Pride parades, at Kenneth Cole stores, inside hotels and via maxim.com and cbssports.com, among other venues.
The program began with Redken for Men sponsoring four Gay Pride parades earlier this summer in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington and Atlanta. Redken used a street team to hand out 100,000 trial-sized samples that came inside packaging showing a picture of the line and the Redken for Men Web site address, redkenformen.com. Those who visited the site could enter a sweepstakes to win an iPod and a beach bag full of Redken for Men products as well as learn which salons in their area carry the line. A booth at each parade let attendees try the products.
There are no quantitative results yet, but Kalyani said that qualitatively, the Gay Pride program was a success.
"We've gotten e-mails and voice mails from salons saying they are seeing an impact," she said.
Putting the samples inside packaging helped.
"Product literature gets tossed, but if a person is trying a product with a little piece of paper attached telling them to go online, it will do more," Kalyani said.
One focus of the campaign involves giving men the chance to talk with experts about their hair and clothing, ala "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."
Redken and Kenneth Cole will hold grooming consultations on Wednesdays for six weeks starting Aug. 4 at Kenneth Cole stores in Miami, Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco and Chicago. Male shoppers can consult with a Redken hairdresser or a Kenneth Cole fashion stylist.
Also in August, anyone making a purchase in the men's department of the 17 Kenneth Cole stores in those five cities will receive a gift-with-purchase bag. Each will contain a Redken for Men Densify thickening shampoo, Finish Up Daily Weightless Conditioner and Grip Tight Firm Hold Gel. A card inside will invite consumers to visit redkenformen.com and enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win four Super Bowl tickets. Redken will produce 100,000 gift bags for this promotion.
Redken also will offer free grooming consultations during New York's Fashion Week in September. Samples will be handed out at the booth as well as inside the 15 runway shows for which Redken is doing the hair. A street team will distribute offers to passersby for a consultation at Cutler Salon on East 57 Street.
And Redken will place samples inside rooms at several hotels in each city on Details magazine's list of the top 10 metrosexual cities, an article scheduled for publication this fall. A card will list local salons carrying the line and a special offer from a salon.
The company also plans to send 5 million e-mail newsletters this fall with an invitation to visit redken.com and print special offers from local salons.