Some of the biggest trends in beauty and grooming products are those that involve consumers' brains, budgets and schedules as well as their bodies.
A product's performance and value, plus concerns about health, well-being and the ecology, are playing significant roles in women's and men's shopping habits, according to two executives sensitive to the ins and outs of the beauty business.
Top sellers, for example, include one-step shampoo/conditioners for the time-pressed; natural colors and natural products for the environmentally concerned; hypoallergenic and sunscreening products for those who want problem-free skin.
"We get 30,000 letters each year," says Glamour magazine's publisher, Jack Kliger, noting that "the most common word our readers use is 'practicality.' They are looking for product reliability and they want quality. Price/value relationships are important to them. They are confident, and they don't want to be treated as mindless."
"Consumers are information-hungry," says Frank Newman, president and chief executive officer of F&M; Distributors, Inc., a Michigan-based chain. "They read labels. They are much more educated about making their own selections," he adds.
Both men were in Chicago recently and talked about some of the most popular and fastest-moving products. Among them:
* TEMPORARY HAIR COLORS: Allow greater experimentation with colors that can be tried for a day. "You don't have to make a commitment to being blond or red-haired with colors that can be washed out," says Newman, explaining increasing sales of Clairol's and L'Oreal's temporary hair colors. "People are beginning to think of hair as an accessory, something you can change just the way you change an outfit."
Newman also says "there's a closet male out there who doesn't want anyone to know he's coloring his hair covering his gray or going blonder. Men reaching their 40s are fighting it every inch of the way."
* HYPOALLERGENICS: Almay is becoming one of the most popular lines because of the prevalence of allergies and skin problems, followed by Neutrogena, which many consider synonymous with purity, according to Newman. "They offer the price-conscious an alternative to Clinique," he says. Both have also expanded their lines to include sun-care and/or beauty products.
* ONE-STEP SHAMPOOS: "Perfect for the time-pressed," says Kliger of the combination shampoo/conditioners, led by Pert Plus. With 10 new introductions (including Sassoon's Ultra Care, Flex & Go, Rave's All In One) this spring alone, the two-in-ones are expected to challenge sales of regular shampoos. Their special market: the athletically inclined who shampoo every day.
* SPORT LOTIONS: Sweatproof and waterproof sunscreens (often with a sun-protection formula rating of 15) formulated to be longer-lasting for cyclists, tennis players and others active in the sun. Neutrogena, Coppertone and Bain de Soleil have such sport lotions that promise to adhere to perspiring skin, unlike many sun products that slide away with sweat.