Hair-raising moves: Kao set to overhaul hair care with new brands and rebrands in 2024

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Kao has outlined plans to strengthen its entire hair care portfolio. [Getty Images]
Kao has outlined plans to strengthen its entire hair care portfolio. [Getty Images]

Related tags kao corp Hair care Japan

Kao Corporation has outlined plans to strengthen its entire hair care portfolio with fresh brands and revamped offerings in its home market of Japan.

During the firm’s 2024 earnings conference, Kao chief executive Yoshihiro Hasebe highlighted plans to “revitalise”​ its hair care business by launching “next-generation premium products”.

“In the hair care business, we will launch a series of new products to try and move the business into the growth driver areas,”​ he said.

On February 28, the firm announced more details of this hair care makeover, which sees the division split into mass and premium segments.

The company said it will build up its “high premium” ​segment, defined as brands above JPY1,400 or around USD9.

It has observed the domestic market trending up steading in the recent years. In particular, it has identified opportunity in the premium segment.

Citing a 2023 consumer survey in conducted, the firm said consumers that seek our premium hair care products “emphasise not only product functions but also factors that affect their emotions, such as the worldview, concept, and packaging”.

In response to this, Kao’s upcoming hair care developments will focus on “emotional needs” as well as hair needs.

For instance, Melt, a new premium hair care brand on April 20, will tapped into the trend of self-care with a brand concept centred around “relaxing beauty”.

Melt away your problems

Melt’s new products were designed to “appeal to various senses with sound, bubbles, texture, and scent” ​to give consumers “time to value yourself”​ during an ordinary, everyday process.

It will launch with four products, including a carbonated shampoo Melt Creamy Melt Foam, which was inspired by head spa treatments.

The products are scent with geranium, muguet, sage, and musk, which were designed to help users relax.

The debut of Melt will mark its “full-scale entry into the expanding high premium market”.

In addition to this new brand, Kao revealed it would launch two more premium hair care brands. One is scheduled to launch this fall while the other will launch in 2025.

Furthermore, its existing mass hair care brands Merit, Essential, and Segreta are set to undergo rebrands this year as Kao works to “transform” the hair care business.

“Starting with the launch of [Melt], we will continue to introduce new brands, rebrand existing brands, and reorganize the brand formation of the hair care business as a whole. Through these reforms, Kao will develop and strengthen the hair care business into a growth driver business.”

Hair care credentials

Kao’s roots in hair care can be traced back to 1932 with the launch of Kao Shampoo, a solid shampoo bar. Since then, it has launched several hair care brands including Essential, Merit and Segreta.

Furthermore, Kao has also developed brands in the professional space, including Goldwell, Kerasilk, and KMS.

In 2018, the company also acquired luxury hair brand Oribe, which was founded by revered hairstylist, the late Oribe Canales.

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