Clairol is still one of the world's best-known hair care brands, known internationally for hair colouring products such as Nice 'n Easy and Natural Instincts. Yet despite ownership by Procter & Gamble, the brand struggled for years to hold its own against aggressive rivals, not least L'Oreal. Once the global #1 in this market, it lost its crown to its French rival at the end of the 1990s, and has spent the past two decades or so fighting back, but with only limited results. P&G paid just under $5bn to acquire the business in 2001 from Bristol-Myers Squibb. At the time, it was P&G's biggest ever acquisition, giving the American company an important foothold in the hair colouring sector. However, P&G was not able to reverse a slow decline in sales. In 2015 it agreed to transfer the brand to Coty along with several other parts of its beauty portfolio. That sale took more than a year to complete, by which time sales had further weakened. In 2020, Coty too cut its losses, transferring Clairol and a collection of other professional and retail hair and beauty brands into Wella Company, under the control of private equity investor KKR. Clairol was first introduced in the 1930s by Larry Gelb, who acquired rights to a chemical process originally developed in France. As its popularity grew it was instrumental in changing consumer attitudes towards hair colouring in the US, from something only "fast" women did to an affordable luxury available to all. The key breakthrough was the Miss Clairol range launched in 1950 with what became one of the industry's most famous slogans: "Does she or doesn't she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure."
Capsule checked 12th May 2021
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