Sales of conditioners across Europe increased sharply last year as shampoos struggled in a saturated market, according to the latest figures from research firm Mintel. European overview Overall sales in the hair care market increased steadily although in France, Europe's largest market, sales fell by 1 per cent last year to around €1bn. In Germany, where personal care sales have stagnated in recent years, the hair care market performed strongly with sales increasing by 4 per cent to €982m in 2007. Mintel said differentiation helped the market expand with niche lines, such as products for specific hair colours and types, doing particularly well. However, in other countries the stagnation in the shampoo market has been blamed on over segmentation. Mintel analyst Alexandra Richmond told CosmeticsDesign.com that overly specific products have put off the consumer who has been drawn instead to attractively designed products such as L'Oreal's popular Fructis range. Conditioner leads market Meanwhile, segmentation in the market for conditioners has contributed to higher and higher sales as consumers look for the specific product that will most effectively replenish their hair. Conditioners have led the hair care market in recent years across Europe with sales value almost doubling in Spain, increasing 34 per cent in Italy and 25 per cent in Germany between 2002 and 2007. Richmond said buyers of conditioning products are attracted by the desire for soft feeling and healthy looking hair. Salon brands The Mintel analyst said another emerging trend, especially in the UK hair care market, is the increased popularity of salon brands. These products are finding their way into the home as consumers show a willingness to pay extra for the professional touch. Consumers are also attracted by the greater credence that comes with salon brands just as they are in the skin care market with doctor brands.