Customized hair-care brand Prose debuted a styling gel on Monday, opening up an opportunity to reach curly-haired customers through styling products.
Currently, Prose offers a curl cream and a dry shampoo, but there is room for the direct-to-consumer hair-care brand to expand further into styling, said Megan Streeter, CMO of Prose. She added that the brand’s customer demographics show an opportunity to expand its base of curly-haired customers, with 70% of Prose consumers having Type II hair, meaning mostly straight and wavy hair. Typically, curly- and coily-haired people have Type III and Type IV hair, as ranked by The Andrew Walker Hair Typing System — each category is further divided into a, b, and c subcategories. An estimated 65% of the U.S. population has curly, coily or wavy hair, with a growing percentage of textured-hair women embracing their natural hair, according to 2018 TextureTrends Report from curly hair blog NaturallyCurly. Prose has 250,000 active subscribers and is on track to earn more than $100 million in sales in 2022, said Arnaud Plas, co-founder and CEO of Prose.
To create customized products, Prose has customers take a five-minute survey covering hair type, styling preferences, lifestyle and hair goals. Prose now sells 10 products, including shampoo, conditioner and hair supplements. Plas said the company is focused on product expansion as its key growth area from 2022-2023, saying it will allow Prose to grow its top- and bottom-line sales and overall profitability.
“Personalization is so key right now, in terms of individuality. This styling product allows someone to own who they are as a person and own their self-expression by playing outside the lines and not being so conventional,” said Streeter. “It is all about versatility.”
Because the product primarily works for curly hair, Prose developed it with an advisory board of approximately five stylists and curly hair advocates providing feedback. Prose also hired a dedicated product developer for curly hair products. Plas said Prose tweaked the personalization survey so that algorithms determining product formulations better perform for curly and coily hair types.
Nearly 80% of sales come from existing customers, said Plas. The company raised price points by 4% on average in Dec. 2021 due to supply chain inflation.
“The first goal before getting new customers is to surprise and delight your existing customers constantly,” said Plas. “It’s important for brands, especially [in the first few years], to stick to your vision and be consistent with how you develop your brand. We’ve always refused to go into wholesale if it’s at the cost of the team, the brand’s vision or the brand’s personalization level.”
Notably, Prose competitor Function of Beauty entered wholesale with Target in Dec. 2020, and has also gone after the curly-haired customer, releasing co-washes and other curly-hair products since 2021. The 7-year-old brand, which recently built out a new C-Suite, raised a $150 million Series B led by L Catterton in 2020 and reportedly sought a $1 billion valuation. Other more nascent customized hair-care brands have also emerged since 2020, including Urban Alchemy and Strands.
Prose developed a digital and out-of-home campaign to announce the launch called Curl Outside the Lines. The company partnered with its first-ever brand ambassador, Lauren Ridloff, a deaf American actress who has starred in the TV series “The Walking Dead” and the Marvel film “Eternals.” Three other models with different curly hairstyles were cast to demonstrate the versatility of the styling gel. Streeter said the campaign themes were “energy, expression and bold colors,” and that approximately 75% of the content produced is video. She declined to share specific advertising investments but said the styling gel is the biggest product launch of the year.
“[We’re trying] to diversify how we approach our digital paid media. We’re testing on YouTube channels, which we haven’t done before. And the out-of-home advertising is more expansive than what we’ve done before,” said Streeter.
And although sales are the primary metric of campaign success, Streeter said Prose will also examine engagement on its owned social media channels, as well as sales conversion and the campaign’s ability to recruit new customers.
“[Customized] styling is a pretty big market,” said Plas. “The size of the market [is important], but so is the differentiation a brand brings to the table. I’m sure we will continue to expand within that subcategory.”