To formulate a new multicultural hair care line targeting Gen Z, Procter & Gamble and Walmart relied on feedback from the demographic at large, as well as Walmart shoppers, and employees of color.

“That helped us to really develop and define the product,” said Lela Coffey, VP of North America Hair Care and Multicultural Brands at P&G. “They are going to be purveyors of the product.”

The line, called NOU, includes eight-items and will roll out to 2,500 Walmart stores beginning October 12 with what Lela described as a “purposeful price point” ($6.97) “to make high-quality hair products available and accessible to Gen Z,” she said.

The brand was developed as a response to growing demand for clean products for textured hair, said Lela. “Fifty percent of Gen Z are now non-white, and 75 percent of them define themselves as having textured hair. The multicultural population is growing, and a lot of them may have parents and friends who don’t have hair like theirs. It’s a perfect time to bring a product to market for them that helps them care for their hair.”

NOU, an acronym for ‘Next of Us’, comprises products such as shampoo, leave-in conditioner, styling gel, and moisturizing mask, formulated without sulfates, dyes, and parabens. In formulating them, the focus was on porosity – essentially how the hair absorbs and retains moisture – and curl. Lela said the launch had to include substantial education about porosity, and helping consumers learn how to define the porosity of their own hair, what it means, and how to care for it.

Angel Beasley, Walmart Speciality Hair Merchandising Director, said that when she joined Walmart two years ago, it was her objective to “do something disruptive in the market and to unite our aisles and that no matter gender or race, we can focus on hair textures and bring something new to the market.”

The way in which the line was developed fit in with the customer for which it is intended,” said Angel.

“You can’t tell the Gen Z consumer what to do and what to buy, and it was important to do a grassroots movement in order to help build the program, to move within their cohort of Gen Z shoppers and to speak to them about the packaging, the smells, what kind of products they wanted. It was an interesting journey during Covid to build a brand,” said Angel. “It was almost like reverse engineering.”

The principles of NOU – such as inclusivity, transparency around ingredients, and sustainable packaging – could lend themselves to other categories, said Angel.

“Our whole goal, in the beginning, was to not just make it for hair but be something that could live across multiple platforms,” she said. “Now that we’ve launched the hair line, we will see how our consumers respond, and then allow them to tell us what they’d like to see next.”