personal brands

Laila Ali Hopes New Beauty Line Will Be a Knockout

Posted by Barry Silverstein on October 1, 2010 11:00 AM

The daughter of the storied Muhammad Ali is trading in her boxing gloves for hand cream.

Now a star in her won right, Laila Ali followed in her dad's footsteps to become a world champion boxer, and parlayed that into becoming better known for her philanthropy (and turn on Dancing with the Stars), lending her likeness to brand marketers including Adidas (above), the "Got Milk?" campaign, and during her first pregnancy (she's now expecting #2), pitching Palmers Cocoa Butter.

Now she's ready to expand from endorsements to making her mark in a business of her own. More mother and businesswoman than pugilist these days, Ali is launching the Laila Ali Professional line of hair care, skin care and fragrance products. Hair care products will dominate the line, because Ali feels there is a need for a quality product in that segment.

"A lot of the products that are out there have chemicals that are not good for us and the environment," she tells the Miami Herald. "What's important to me is creating something that actually is going to build and strengthen the hair. It's about trying to balance being good for you and also giving consumers the results they want."

While there is nothing specifying that Ali's product line is ethnic, that is clearly the sweet spot. Tony Eluck, president of International Beauty Brands, which makes the brand, tells the Herald, "This is the first ethnic professional quality line. What exists today in the ethnic mass market is an insult to the black woman."

Targeting ethnic consumers in the health and beauty care market seems to be a smart, well-timed strategy. According to Packaged Facts, the ethnic segment of that industry had almost $2.7 billion in sales last year, 4 percent higher than the previous year, even has most beauty categories decreased. Timothy Dowd, senior analyst with Packaged Facts, says "African American women count for an inordinately high portion of hair care sales in this country."

Still, says Tony Eluck, the Laila Ali line is "a crossover brand" that will appeal to any consumer, regardless of ethnicity or gender. "Anybody can use it," he says.

Just as important to Ali is the fact that her products are "earth-friendly, non-toxic, and high quality." Products include natural and organic ingredients such as Acai berry, jojoba oil, olive oil, and shea butter. The hair products are free of sulfates, which can have harsh effects on hair.

Laila Ali Professional hair and skin care products will retail for $10 to $18, while the fragrances will sell for $35 - $45. They will soon be available in such retailers as CVS, Sears, and Wal-Mart.

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