Who’s Who in the Bonding Market?

In the ever-evolving hair care market, the dynamic of hair bonding treatments is impossible to ignore. According to the Q1 2023 data from our Kline PRO: Salon Retail Products and Services Database, the hair bonding market accounts for a substantial 8.5% share of the total U.S. hair care market and it is a key growth area to watch.

Olaplex, with its patented bonding products introduced in 2014, sparked this transformative wave. Since then, other brands have followed suit and entered the category, including Redken, Living Proof, Amika, and Paul Mitchell, offering consumers more choices to repair and rejuvenate their hair. While bond builders are now accessible through various channels, consumers are predominantly seeking bonding treatments as a precursor to a haircut or hair coloring service. As such, it is imperative for brands to establish a significant presence in salons.  

Despite facing fierce competition, Olaplex remained the topselling bonding brand in independent salons in Q1 2023, with nearly $30 million in revenue for the quarter, according to Kline PRO: Salon Retail Products and Services Database. Aveda, Redken, K18, and Brazilian Blowout, followed Olaplex in the top five best-selling bond treatments sold in salons. Olaplex holds a significant share of the market. As a result, there is a revenue drop-off between Olaplex, the main market share holder, and Aveda, which is second in the market. K18 had a remarkable increase in the market share and climbed from being in the top 10 to now securing a spot among the top five brands in the market. 

Bond builders are the main growth driver in the overall treatment category in the United States, with K18’s Leave-in Molecular Repair Hair Mask holding the leader position in Q1 2023, based on revenue data from Kline PRO: Salon Retail Products and Services Database.  

So, why are consumers loving bonding treatments? They offer a wide range of benefits, including restoration  and repair, frizz control, shine, and more. However, the impact on hair can vary significantly due to the diverse product technologies and application methods needed to activate bonding agents. Consumers are settling their own debates on TikTok by testing different brands and sharing their own journey to solving damaged hair. Currently, one of the most trending discussions revolves around Olaplex and K18, which raises the question:   What sets the two apart? 

Olaplex: Bestseller in Bond Builders 

Olaplex entered the market with two professional bonding products and an at-home product. Its journey was marked by tremendous growth, driven by a strategic approach of forging partnerships with salons and building trust among hairstylists, subsequently reaching consumers. This growth trajectory culminated in an IPO in 2021. 

While Olaplex is synonymous with bond-building, it has been experiencing a decline in market share due to increasing competition and pending lawsuits. Nevertheless, Olaplex maintains its leading position with a significant market share. Looking ahead, Olaplex is focusing on resetting and re-establishing itself in the market while expanding distribution in Asia-Pacific and Europe.  

K18: A Winning Strategy in Salons 

The emerging competition that stylists and consumers have their eye on is indie brand K18 which  launched in 2020. Its success centers around their Leave-in Molecular Repair Hair Mask – the first-of-its kind biotech hair care product that repairs keratin chains in hair with its peptide patent technology. This product has been revolutionizing reaching hair depth with the promise to provide lasting results.  

Similar to Olaplex, K18 sent their hair molecular mask treatment to salons, aiming to win the trust and loyalty of hairstylists. Additionally, they created a private group on Facebook where stylists could openly discuss and share insights about the products. This approach led to an enthusiastic response from hair professionals, who embraced K18 and emerged as their biggest advocates for the brand. On top of that, renowned figures like Kim Kardashian joined the conversation on social media, further bolstering brand awareness and catalyzing a surge in sales. K18’s strategic expansion reached new heights when it entered Sephora in December 2021, expanding its consumer reach and solidifying its presence in the market. 

With 36.5% year-over-year growth of consumers searching hair bonding treatments on Google, according to Spate’s analysis of consumer Google search and TikTok trends, the hair bonding market remains dynamic with no signs of slowing down. To better capitalize on market opportunities, refer to our consulting services which can help your brand win or enter the bonding market by analyzing the market and the competitive landscape as well as consumers’ and stylists’ perceptions. To learn more, please contact us.  

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