May 2008

Hanna Mayo

Marketing Solutions | by Hannah Mayo


Marketing to Kids and Teens

How to Reach This Growing Market

The age people become aware of their personal style is getting ever younger. How can we tap into this trend?

Especially as young girls emulate their favorite Hollywood celebrities, the age they begin grooming regimens and beauty treatments lowers dramatically. Flooded with marketing and media messages their parents never heard growing up, kids today find more of an interest in salon and spa products and services. It’s not uncommon for kids as young as six to get mini-facials and manicures as kid’s specialty salons and day spas have become a growing part of the spa industry.

Now more than ever, teens are subjected to pressure from the media to look and act more like adults. Furthermore, parents are willing to buy more luxuries for their kids because trends such as smaller family sizes, dual incomes and postponing childbearing until later in life means families have more disposable income. These two factors are the basic components behind the influx of increasingly younger clients receiving salon services.

So how can we adjust to and capitalize on this change? Below are a few fun and creative ways to capture this exclusive clientele.

Host spa parties. Try offering distinctively different salon and spa party packages for birthdays, holidays or any special occasion. Provide light refreshments, decorations, invitations, goody bags, a fashion show, music and movies -- this makes it easy on the parent and fun for the kids. Remember, you not only need to target the children but also the parent, as it is their income that makes these purchases. Some salons find these become their most popular services. It allows the children to have a great time, and their parents become the heroes of the day without even lifting a finger.

Have annual or semi-annual fashion shows. These should generally coincide with the middle or end of the fall and spring seasons, just in time to showcase new fashion trends. Have your stylists volunteer to do hair and makeup for the event while also teaching participants about proper skincare and makeup application. This is not only fun, it is also a great way to expose your salon services and specialties to the local community.

Sponsor school programs. Almost every school is looking for sponsors to help pay for extracurricular activities such as sports, dances and other school sponsored events. Rather than asking for simple cash donations, these opportunities usually come in the form of advertising in the school newspaper, on book covers or on banners displayed in their sports facilities. Increased visibility is vital, so why not take advantage of these opportunities to help your community and your business. And remember, you expose parents to these sponsorships too.

Offer discounted haircolor services to students. Teenagers make up the fastest growing segment of those receiving haircolor services. These services are also among the most expensive in your salon, so why not discount them 20 percent for teens? To compensate for the discount, send the students to your junior hairstylists, as the younger clientele may be less picky about their haircolor. Another benefit is your junior stylists may relate to their youthful character better than a more senior staff member might.

Offer spa services specifically for pre-teens and teens. The skincare needs of a pre-teen differ from those of adults. If your salon offers spa services such as facials and body treatments, consider offering them specifically for teens, if you don’t already. Teen facials might include deep pore cleansing, exfoliation, gentle extractions and a soothing mask. Talk to your spa product service representative about treatments formulated for younger clients. If you are unable to offer a facial specifically formulated for teens, simply rename your basic moisturizing facial, while providing a special teen skincare consultation. Education needs to be an important feature when providing any service for teens, as they may be very new to them.

Offer a free makeup application lesson with haircut and haircolor services. This will really help complete the salon look, and is a great opportunity to teach your younger clients about makeup application, while creating an opportunity for you to sell your retail products. The important thing is to teach them how to do it themselves rather than just applying the makeup for them. It is possible they have yet to be properly trained on application techniques and choosing colors that complement each other. They will appreciate the advice, and even if they don’t purchase makeup right there on the spot, each time they do their own makeup and utilize the tips they learned, your salon will stick out in their mind.

Run a successful referral program. Hopefully, you already have some form of referral incentive program in place for your existing clients to refer their friends and family to your salon. Providing an incentive encourages the proliferation of the age-old word of mouth referral, which is one of the best ways to build your business. Most likely, your loyal teenage clients would be more than happy to refer their friends and family to your salon, especially if they have something to gain by doing so. Consider offering their newly referred friend a gift upon their first service such as travel size shampoo and conditioner

Use gift cards as incentives. For teenagers, long gone are the days of holiday gifts that consist of macaroni, glitter and a little hot glue. Gift cards are here to stay and market research confirms this. Provide teens an incentive to give gift cards to their friends and family by giving them something extra. Make incentives work for you, rather than against you, by giving them an extra gift card, valued at 20 percent of the originally purchased gift card.

Before dismissing this final suggestion, keep the following in mind. The value of the originally purchased gift card may cover only a portion of the redeemed services by their parents or friends. In addition, the teen will likely keep their freebie gift card for themselves, which also may cover only a portion of their redeemed services. This should help minimize any losses to your bottom line. Lastly, research shows that by the end of January, only 61 percent of holiday gift cards are redeemed, making heavy holiday sales a big help for your salon through the traditionally slow January and early February months.

Create eye catching promotional materials. Young clientele have an on-the-go mentality. When creating fliers, posters, advertisements and banners, remember to have a straight-to-the-point headline with minimal body copy. These kids and pre-teens don’t want to -- and won’t -- take the time to read more than a couple of lines. Use bright colors, contemporary designs and short headline phrases to grab their attention.

Implementing just a few of these marketing tips will soon begin to build your teen clientele, while solidifying your future success as they grow older… and as they also become more financially independent.

Hannah Mayo is a Marketing Coordinator at Marketing Solutions. For more information, contact Marketing Solutions at 703-359-6000, or visit