Living Proof primed for TR prestige haircare ‘moment’

By Charlotte Turner |

Unilever-Living-Proof-leadAs reported, Unilever debuted its newly acquired Living Proof haircare brand at the TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes this October where TRBusiness was able to interview Michelle Brett – Living Proof SVP North America Sales, as well as Unilever GTR’s Lynne Frayna.


Living Proof, acquired by Unilever in 2017, is reportedly the number one prestige haircare brand in the US, which uses ‘breakthrough science and patented technology’ originating from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).


With over 20 patents and over 50 different products, which have won more than 150 awards to date, we asked Michelle Brett just how the brand is going to communicate this to passengers, who are often making only a fleeting visit to the shops and may not be familiar with the brand.


“We actually have quite a few visuals that we use [on shelf]…we use compelling before and after shots [of unstyled/styled hair], backed by strong claims (verified by MIT), such as ‘97% reduction of frizz after one use’; ’20 times stronger’; ‘No 1 selling dry shampoo’ etc.



“We also use diversity in our range of models to show representation of the different types and textures of hair, which is especially relevant for the duty free environment.”



Living Proof’s products are backed by scientific research carried out by the well-regarded, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).


In terms of a distribution strategy, Frayna insists that Unilever already knows which markets are ‘prime’ in terms of the travel retail opportunity.


“Scandinavia’s going to be a big market and of course the US and the UK, building on the awareness that has already been built up in local markets.”



Corby was appointed as Living Proof’s Creative Director of Global Salon Channel back in 2015.


Brett believes that the brand is about to hit the crest of a wave for the prestige haircare segment in duty free & travel retail.


“I think it’s because prestige haircare is growing at a much faster rate than much more established categories.


“So five years ago there was really no haircare products to speak of in duty free and travel retail.


“Now you are seeing key suppliers, although we have a different positioning to them and our science and our technology especially in the Chinese market is very well trusted.



Brett is not surprised that the dry shampoo product is one of the company’s bestsellers.


“The beauty of our range is that you need to use less product, so you need to wash your hair less frequently, because the Living Proof products don’t contain heavy oils or silicone and our technology actually allows your hair to stay cleaner for longer.”


This of course engenders loyalty among first-time users proven by Living Proof’s 98% re-purchase rate, which is astronomical, adds Brett.


At the TFWA World Exhibition, Living Proof was able to bolster its debut appearance by sponsoring the TFWA’s Well-Being Lounge, where celebrity hair stylist, Michael Shaun Corby was on hand to provide advice and style tips.


Corby was appointed as Living Proof’s Creative Director of Global Salon Channel back in 2015. Since then he has been busy travelling to exhibitions and department stores, such as Selfridges in the UK where the brand has just launhced, to make appearances.



The brand hopes to recruit new customers through the competitively priced dry shampoo (middle).


“We do have a lot of interest in a lot of international markets, even though we’re not sold there,” adds Brett.


“We know from our own research in certain markets – obviously the Canadian market in Vancouver and the west coast of Hawaii –  that a lot of Chinese customers shop for our brands.


“We have a presence in Space NK in the UK, as well as Selfridges, but Scandinavia and Spain are our top two markets in Europe.


“We actually rolled out a huge campaign with M&S and we’ve seen a double-digit increase in sales YoY.”


Brett and Frayna insist that the brand is prepared for global expansion with multi-language labelling and a competitive pricing strategy.


“We especially worked hard to price our dry shampoo competitively at $23 (other products are around $40-plus) as we want consumers to try this product first and then be hooked.”

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