Published in Jul-Aug 2021
Every year, an estimated Rs 24 billion are spent on hair dye, and on average this number increases by nearly 10% every year. Although in the nineties Kala Kola was the leader in this segment, with the entry of new local players such as Black Rose, Olivia and Samsol, Kala Kola gradually turned into an essentially ‘grandma’ brand. In the process, the brand lost substantial market share and now accounts for just two to three percent of share. International players in the market with a strong presence include Garnier, Keune and L’Oreal.
Speaking about the objectives of their recent campaign, Sohaib Waheed, Marketing Manager, Kala Kola, says that “Olivia, Samsol, Black Rose and other local brands are our primary competitors and Keune and Garnier are secondary. A heritage brand like Kala Kola should have a substantial share of this market and that is what we want to achieve.” He adds that according to their in-house user and attitude survey, Kala Kola stands seventh or eighth in terms of top-of-mind recall.
The long-term strategy is to overcome the perception that Kala Kola is a local brand and that its effectiveness in terms of colour fades quickly. “We had to take some drastic measures to change this perception and we knew this would take rather long,” adds Waheed.
Kala Kola’s survey revealed other insights which helped the marketing team shape their strategy appropriately. “Despite being an imported brand and slightly more expensive than the local ones, Keune has a strong penetration among SECs B and C. We discovered that one box can be used by two people, making it more economical not only for individuals but for salons as well – and with the added advantage of being an international brand.”
Another finding was that consumers are more open to switching hair colour but not brands; the brand they choose is a personal decision, so much so that even a spouse cannot influence it. Armed with these findings, United Trading and Manufacturing (Kala Kola’s parent company) launched their ‘Level up your hair’ campaign featuring singer Aima Baig. The campaign was rolled out across all media. Waheed says one of the objectives was “to create awareness and then build on this through subsequent campaigns after implementing holistic changes in the brand.” He says the aim was not to see an immediate spike in sales, but to change the consumer mindset towards the brand. “It was about reminding consumers that we exist and that we are an upbeat, trendy brand. We want to improve our top-of-the mind recall. We have used all social media platforms to establish our presence.”
The TVC was directed by Hamza Lari and according to Usman Mehmood, Director Marketing, Kala Kola, “Kala Kola is a heritage brand with an equity all of its own and we realised it was futile to try and revamp the brand with one campaign. This is a repositioning effort that is part of a long term strategy to regain market share.”
Baig was selected as the new face of Kala Kola. “According to our survey, women start using hair dye from the age of 23, and engaging with this demographic was a challenge as our brand lies nowhere in the mindset of this age group,” says Ahmed. Hence the choice of Baig, who is a fashion sensation. Her association with PSL and Coke Studio has ensured that she connects with young people, making her the best choice to be our brand ambassador.” Another reason for choosing Baig was because a jingle was thought essential to the campaign, and the view was that no one from the music industry would resonate as much as Baig among the campaign’s target audience.
The tagline ‘Level up your hair’ was chosen because Mehmood says, “we wanted to overcome the dated image of the brand by using a more enticing tagline that serves as a call to action.” In addition to the campaign, other efforts have been made to ‘level up’ the brand. According to Waheed, “we had to bring the brand up to par with competing brands. Most hair dye brands offer 10 different shades. The natural colours – blacks and browns – have an 80% share and ‘fashion colours’ – blonde and burgundy – have a 20% share. On the other hand, Kala Kola was offering only four shades, and this had an adverse effect on our market share. As a result, we added another two shades.”
Kala Kola’s natural shades are available in two SKUS: 25 ml and 50 ml that are priced at Rs 95 and Rs 180 respectively, while their fashion shades are available in 25 ml packs and are more economical compared to their local competitors. “We believe we are offering better quality than our local counterparts and at more affordable prices. We are committed to continuous quality improvement and have been working on our products throughout.”
Waheed concludes by saying that the “market is growing and we are very optimistic that in the long-term we will be able to establish ourselves as a brand for the young and command a greater share of the market.”