Madison Reed just raised another $25 million to open hair color bars across the U.S.


You get to a certain age, and if you’re remotely vain (and let’s face it, you are), you need to have your hair colored fairly frequently. You’re hardly alone. Roughly 75 percent of women in the United States color their hair, which today adds up to an $18 billion opportunity for brands like L’Oréal and Clairol.

It used to look that way, anyway. Eating into a growing percentage of these giants’ market share is Madison Reed, a four-year-old, 85-person, San Francisco-based maker of affordable “prestige” hair products. These include 45 shades of permanent hair color, 8 shades of hair “gloss,” 6 shades of liquid-based root touch-up (for in between coloring sessions), and 6 shades of powder for root touch-ups. The company also more recently began making shampoos and conditioners for color-treated hair.

Now Madison Reed is working on what could become its biggest product of all: a chain of real-world “color bars” that it expects will accelerate its business further. Toward that end, the company just raised $25 million in new funding led by Comcast Ventures, an earlier investor, with participation from other previous backers, including Norwest Venture Partners, True Ventures and Calibrate Ventures.

Today, we phoned CEO and founder Amy Errett in Hawaii, where she’s attending the high-wattage, low-flying Lobby conference. We asked her about the company’s newest round of funding, its color bars, and much more. If you care about consumer packaged goods more generally, keep reading.

TC: You’ve quietly closed on $25 million that brings your funding to $70 million. Why go with Comcast, which is already an investor?

AE: Comcast was a very small shareholder previously and they just kind of watched our progress. Also, for us, Comcast adds enormous value; our investors there have been super helpful with TV and connections into other media.

TC: How much are you spending on TV? And how else are you marketing Madison Reed?

AE: We spend money on marketing four ways. First, Facebook and Instagram continues to be great for us and we work hard at [cultivating our image on both]. Radio is the fastest-growing channel, including satellite, local, and more recently national. We measure ROI by asking people how they’ve heard of us and through promo codes. The third is TV, which has been super effective. Fourth are referrals, which is an important part of our business. We put referral cards in boxes, and a lot of people give them out to friends who then get their first box for free. We’ve been doing it long enough to measure that it’s not just that first box (that they use).

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