A significant milestone in advancing the local ethnic hair care market, the launch of Henkel Beauty Care’s South African research and development (R&D) laboratory on 6 March 2015 is putting our country on the map as a producer of world-class personal care products.
Entrenched in brand excellence, much like the global Henkel group, Henkel Beauty Care in South Africa is a major player in ethnic hair care with its brands Ladine Professional and Schwarzkopf Smooth & Shine.
The international company, which is headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany, first entered the African market in 2011. Two years later, after research initiatives and developing an understanding of local consumers’ expectations, behaviours and challenges, it went on to acquire Ladine from the original owner, Maria Laughland. This marked the opening of Henkel’s gateway into Africa, which has seen the company coin the phrase ‘in Africa, for Africa’ in various marketing activities.
The Ladine range of professional ethnic hair care products is one of our country’s greatest personal care exports, thanks to the innovative capabilities of one South African woman to develop what is known today as ‘the best relaxer technology worldwide’. This is according to Stefan Geister, Henkel’s regional director of market expansion in sub-Saharan Africa.
‘Ladine provides straight answers for curly hair,’ he explains. ‘The range is formulated using superior technology and the best raw materials on the market. We never compromise on quantity; hence the price positioning of the range is in the middle to upper class market, LSM 6 to 10.’
Committed to local needs
The R&D laboratory, number 17 worldwide for the group, is located at Henkel’s new Beauty Care premises in Corporate Park North, in Midrand, Gauteng. Its main area of focus is ethnic hair care, which represents a significant step forward for personal care products developed specifically for this market and confirms Henkel Beauty Care’s commitment to its customers throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
During his presentation at the launch, Geister shared some interesting findings on the South African ethnic hair care market. ‘Its current estimated worth is around R2.3 billion, of which relaxers account for 48 per cent, after care 36 per cent, styling eight per cent, and the remaining eight per cent is colour,’ he comments. ‘These consumers have unique hair care needs, such as high levels of hydration, protection and manageability, which aren’t always fully comprehended. Their wide range of hair styles and indivdualised regimens also make the ethnic hair care category a very interesting space in which to do business.’
Capitalising on this knowledge and building on the success of Ladine Professional and its retail product range, Schwarzkopf Smooth & Shine, the R&D lab aims to contribute to a better understanding of the hair care required. It also sets out to address the diverse needs of consumers and salons, with targeted, well-researched solutions developed on South African soil.
‘All of Henkel’s research into ethnic hair care will be conducted in South Africa at our new facility, combining the global company’s advanced technology and standards with specialist local expertise,’ adds Geister.
The new lab also sees the amalgamation of the Ladine Professional and Schwarzkopf Smooth & Shine facilities under one roof, in order to initiate continuous innovation in both brands. This will be spearheaded by R&D manager, Lutendo Magina, who is supported by a group of skilled and dynamic professionals. His team includes David Khumalo, R&D testing and salon studio manager; Synodia Bhasera, R&D testing and salon studio assistant; Charles Mokoena, R&D lab assistant; and R&D assistant Abigail Ngidi.