Hair consumers’ search behavior on Google reveals the importance of ingredient-focused terms.
This is especially true for care brands whose category terms (e.g., “tea tree shampoo”) accounted for 70% of the top ingredient-modified keywords by growth according to Gartner L2’s report on the topic. This is notably high compared to terms relating to treatment (18%), styling (10%) and color (2%). Retailers dominate ingredient-based search, with 50% more visibility than the average brand on ingredient terms. Mass retailers particularly rule the space: On keywords with ingredients, Amazon, Walmart and Target receive 93%, 89% and 76% paid visibility, respectively. Moreover, even right-to-win brands can’t outpace retailers: None of the brands match the visibility of Ulta, the second least visible retailer. Only four studied brands—Aveda, OGX, SheaMoisture and Garnier—achieve a paid visibility of over 50% on the terms on their own behalf.
Although brands shouldn’t stop paid investment on ingredient terms altogether, they must prepare for the competitiveness of the field. The cost per click on a keyword like “best sulfate free shampoo,” for example, is 23% higher than that of “shampoo” alone. Mass brands in particular should recognize the strengths of their retail partners in this area and lean on them for their ingredient-focused products to gain maximum visibility through second-order search. Amazon and Walmart present a fragmented field for newer brands to gain visibility, with 79% and 71% of total retail results, respectively, held by a long tail of brands. Target gives right-to-win, more established Index brands a larger share of second-order search, with OGX alone retaining 25% of results.