STORES Magazine - September 2017 - 36
Diving Deep on Beauty
Three disruption secrets behind hair color brand Madison Reed's success
by JULIE KNUDSON
hroughout her career, Amy Errett has
seen the power of disruption. As a
general partner in a venture capital firm,
"I had started to be very driven about
areas that were massive, but were yet to
be disrupted by a product or a technology
innovation," she says.
One sector she felt was ripe for
disruption was personal care. Through
her research, she identified very little
innovation - from the products offered
to the ingredients used to the delivery
methods available to consumers.
"That's when Madison Reed started,"
says Errett, the brand's founder and CEO.
SECRET NO. 1: THE WHAT
An estimated 95 million to 105 million
women color their hair on an ongoing
basis, Errett says, with most averaging
six weeks between treatments. That
repetitive exposure to chemicals and
potential irritants was one of the first
STORES September 2017
issues that struck Errett, and a core
disruption point that typifies Madison
Reed's approach to business.
"We went down a deep research
path and found we could take out six
of the harshest chemicals," she says.
"We have the lowest chemical profile
in the market." Madison Reed didn't
just pull the chemicals out: "We added
nutrients that are very nourishing,"
Errett says. "They're restorative and
The ingredients aren't the only thing
that separate Madison Reed hair
color from other brands. Errett's team
recruited dozens of women through
Craigslist and asked to observe them as
they colored their hair.
"It was a revelation," she says. "We
saw the same behaviors over and over
again. It allowed us to reinvent the
box, change what's in it and improve
the user experience."
Among the innovations was
providing an additional set of gloves,
after Errett says her team watched
many women struggle to wear, remove
and re-wear the single set normally
offered by other manufacturers as they
went through multiple steps of the
SECRET NO. 2: THE HOW
Few people understand trial and error
better than someone who has colored
their hair themselves. Simply selecting
the right shade can be a chore, as they
try to compare the color pictured on the
box to the head of hair in the mirror.
Errett says it's one of the biggest
friction points consumers encounter.
Color consultants can help, though users
still wonder how an online or phonebased expert can get their color right
without seeing them in person. Madison
Reed has bridged that divide.