Hair straighteners making waves – over a quarter of women now can't live without them

February 18, 2011

While spend on electrical hair care appliances may not have been a priority for consumers in the depths of recession, it seems the fortunes of the industry have changed as the market straightens out for hair styling appliances. Indeed, while straightening hair may add time to the morning routine, latest research from Mintel reveals that today, a quarter (27%) of women can’t live without their straighteners – rising to 40% of under 25s.

The number of consumers owning straighteners rose from 4.6 million in 2007 (35%) to 5.3 million (45%) in 2010, a jump of 15% as more women adopted straighteners as an essential part of their regular hair regime. Today, a third (33%) of women claim to own a pair, with 5% purchasing a new pair over the past year. And it is not just women who are driving the boom, as by 2010 one in five (20%) men claimed to own hair straighteners, equating to 4.9 million men and up from 14% in 2007.

Michelle Strutton, Senior FMCG Analyst at Mintel, said:

“The market for electrical hair appliances was affected in 2009 by the onset of the recession but the effects were short-term. Women continued to make their personal appearance and grooming a priority and continued to buy new appliances, despite the economic uncertainty. With low ticket prices, made even lower by discounting at retailers, appliances are an affordable treat or gift purchase. Despite trends towards curly styles, hair straighteners have held their own and seem to have cemented their place in the grooming routine of Brits. ”

“Men, while not traditionally associated with hair styling appliances, have been active consumers in recent years. With the rising trend of men using straighteners there is an opportunity to design appliances specifically for the young male market who use them most. Product designs with a more masculine image, such as larger hand grips and larger buttons suitable or appliances for shorter hair such as mini straighteners could all do well. “Michelle continues.

With a market value of £100 million in 2010, up from £86 million in 2009, hair straighteners are steaming ahead in the hair appliance sector. Indeed, straighteners dominate the overall £194 million retail market for haircare appliances, accounting for 56% of the market, compared to 31% for hair dryers and 13% for stylers. Today, over a third (33%) of those using hair straighteners say they spent £50 or more on them, up from 29% in 2007 – highlighting the trend towards quality and high end brands.

Today, nearly one in five women (18%) say they use five or more haircare appliances, compared to the 16% who say they use one, 26% who use two and 17% who use three. Six in ten (59%) women shop around on price and over half (54%) are happy with own-label – but around a quarter buy top of the range products. Indeed, for 10 million women in Britain today, quality matters more than price when they choose hair styling appliances. Some 63% (equating to 17 million) women don’t have time to spend styling their hair and want quick results. Meanwhile, 11.3 million women want appliances that can help create more than one look – particularly true of 16-24s, where over half (54%) agree.

However, it seems not all women are keen on hair styling appliances. Some 11.8 million women simply like to let their hair dry naturally, almost a quarter of women claim to never use a hairdryer and one in four try not to use heated appliances too often – indicating an element of caution about over-damaging their hair. Meanwhile, the once feted Crimper – which was most popular in the mid to late 80s – is now the least popular styling tool among consumers, with only 1% claiming regular use and 6% occasional use.

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