[Reader’s Note: This is a continuation from the previous blog entry]
THIS JUST IN: Click here to see all the brands and products available on luxabeauty.com.
Loxabeauty.com is live. Truth of the matter is that it is DOA already. The video is a joke and makes salon owners and hairdressers feel totally inept. Joico, a subsidiary of Shiseido of Japan, is in full support. Why? Amazon.com has its own Joico store and most everything is 30% off EVERYDAY and FREE SHIPPING. It’s just another deflection of what truly is going on: Salon products are consumer products and hence sold everywhere by virtually everyone. Once again some of the manufacturers are trying to show their loyalty to the salon industry even as they ship truckloads to retailers each and every day. With the site more than 90% hair, hairdressers will have to decide which brands to use behind the chair. Most interesting since Salon Centric is owned by L’Oreal and a competitor to SBH (although they sell BSG the MATRIX brand), there is not a single L’Oreal brand on luxabeauty.com.
With the industry more than 90% booth rental, what is the future of the hair salon business? No one has a crystal ball, and most certainly not me. But my best guess is something like this: Back to the pre-1980’s days.
Think about independent service establishments for a moment and which ones over the years have persevered and succeeded? Dry cleaners. Shoe repair. Tailors. Fitness centers. Restaurants. There are a few more but let’s look at these.
Each of these establishments is owned by someone that has a skillset that is not easily copied by the average consumer. Dry cleaners artfully clean and press clothes. Shoe repair guys know how to replace insoles. Tailors can take in and take out just about any clothing article. Fitness centers offers specialized trainers and equipment. Chefs specialize in hundreds of cuisines. The other common trait in these businesses is that they do not retail. Dry cleaners do not sell clothes. Shoe repairs do not sell shoes. Tailors do not sell formal wear. Fitness centers do not sell running shoes or yoga pants. Restaurants do not sell steaks or bell peppers.
The folks at SBH have basically waved the white flag and made the statement that hair salons can offer services but cannot retail products. With that supposition in mind, the future of hair salons is service only. Long before the Paul Mitchell’s, Arnie Miller’s and Jheri Redding’s of the industry showed up, there was no retail in beauty shops. It was pure services. Hairdressers love to cut. Or they love to color. Or they love to do both. Their skillset is hair, not sales.
The hair salon of the future will not sell anything but services. Ah, but there is a kicker. The successful hair salon of the future will include at-home products but make them part of the service fee. Smart marketers will offer products in special sizes for hairdressers to use for the service and then for the hairdresser to give to their client after the service is completed. This will solve many issues for both hairdressers and marketers.
The Current Process
Client comes into the salon for appointment. Client goes to the wash bowl and gets hair washed. The typical backbar has 10-20 shampoos and conditioners. Does the client even know which one is being used? No. Afterwards, the client goes to the stylist station for the cut and style. The typical station has 20 or more products and the hairdresser may use up to 6 of those on the client. Is the client going to buy all the products the hairdresser uses? No. Is there any way the client can make hair look as good at home? No. Does the hairdresser care if the client buys products? No. The client is still happy with the service. But for products, they are bought at a convenient store or Amazon.com from their smartphone and delivered in less than 48 hours.
The New Process
Client comes into the salon (no appointment necessary is best approach but all hairdressers must have equal skillsets). Client goes to the wash bowl and gets hair washed. Hairdresser recommends shampoo and conditioner to the client, shows the special sized bottles, uses on hair and then gives both bottles to the client. Afterwards, the client goes to the stylist station for the cut and style. Hairdresser recommends products to use. Each specially sized product used has an added fee so the more products, the more the service costs (same as a restaurant, everything ordered is a la carte pricing). The hairdresser uses the products and gives the products to the client to take home. Now the client is assured that they are using the same products at home as at the salon.
In the new process, the hairdresser and client both win. The hairdresser is happy because the client is using the products recommended to use at home; made money on the products without actually retailing them, and has no waste to deal with. The client is happy because she now has the products to use at home and if she likes them when running out, can buy with confidence from any retailer that sells the brands.
Whoaaaa!!! If this really is the future, what is going to happen to all those retail products salons have on their shelves? The better question to ask is does the salon industry really need 8 oz., 16 oz, 32 oz, and gallon sizes of the same item? Does one manufacturer really need to offer 8-10 variations of shampoo and conditioner? The future is back to simplicity, client convenience and superior service.
Want validation? The nail salon model now commands more than 80% of the nail business. No appointment necessary. No retail. And what about the products you ask? They have the system down that their clients must come in weekly or bi-weekly so products are not needed. And touch-ups are free in case of the occasional chip.
Now if we could get women into hair salons with the same frequency, that would be another conversation certainly worth entertaining (bi-weekly color touch-ups so hair never goes gray).
Whatever the future is, one thing is for certain: Change is constant. And for all those one million plus hairdressers in the USA, now is as good of a time as any to think about their future.