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Men's hair color has undergone the same kind of dramatic transformation in the marketplace that its products promise graying users. From a lackluster $17.9 million in 1986 to a whopping $61.4 million at the close of 1993, says IRI. But another source, Chain Drug Review (January 31) rates the market far higher: $145 million for last year. Drug stores, which accounted for about 63 percent of the men's haircolor sold, shows the same five leading brands present on the best stocked shelves. The list includes Grecian Formula and Just for Men (from Combe International), Men's Choice, Option Instant, Option Gradual and, sometimes, Great Day (all from Clairol). Then there are a small group of brands from smaller marketers. But Combe, with a 71 percent share, clearly owns the market (Just for Men has 50 percent, Grecian Formula, 21).
Why this dominance?
Because Combe was there first. The company was established in 1949, and the father product in the field, Grecian Formula, had its debut in 1951. It imparts gradual coloration when worked into the hair from two to four weeks - depending on intensity of color desired. Since then the franchise has been extended …