Although ingredient information is increasingly relevant across all hair categories, care drives the majority of consumer interest. Ingredient-modified care terms (e.g., “tea tree shampoo”) accounted for 70% of the highest growth by search volume among keywords containing ingredients. Comparatively, treatment, styling and color, respectively held only 18%, 10% and 2%.
Hair consumers still largely search in ingredient-inclusionary terms, such as “apple cider rinse,” which accounted for 78% of the same high-growth ingredient keywords, rather than exclusionary terms like “sulfate and alcohol free shampoo.” That said, brands should optimize product and category site pages for high-growth, ingredient-exclusionary outliers like “best sulfate-free shampoo for fine hair,” which grew 48% year over year, to stay on top of search behavior changes. Increased opportunity, however, does not come without rising competition. This is especially evident as retailers invest to exploit new pockets of interest, earning 50% more visibility than the average brand on ingredient terms. As only 9% of brands tracked in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Hair Care & Color achieve comparable levels of paid visibility to even the least visible retailers, brands should seek opportunities to exploit established leaders in this area, securing indirect visibility through scaled retail partners’ search results.
E-tailers’ ad activity has yet to focus on upper-funnel, educational-driven care queries such as “how to use coconut oil for hair” or “what is the best shampoo to use.” Amazon, mass retailers and specialty retailers achieve unusually low paid visibility on the terms, at 42%, 27% and 8%, respectively. While e-tailers launch expensive search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns aimed at conversion, brands should consider dialing up SEM investments against educational care-focused terms, as this white space will also allow brands to leverage existing guided selling content on their sites