August 2012

Charlene Abretske

Beyond Your Chair| Jayne Morehouse


Who is the Ultimate Beauty Adviser?

Who is the ultimate beauty advisor? No, that's not a trick question.

Of course, the answer is You!

But are you marketing yourself as a Beauty Adviser to your clients — and to the people in your community? If not, you're missing out on a bigger piece of consumers' beauty dollars.

As this issue of The Stylist went to press, Target announced it is launching the Target Beauty Concierge program in 28 stores in the Chicago area, as part of a nine-month test that could expand to 400 to 450 stores.

Beauty Advisers will be stationed at a small kiosk in the beauty department and carry a mirror and iPad, as they offer samples, tips and beauty advice. To start, they're focusing on the skincare and makeup departments, but you can bet that once Target execs believe they have the right model, the Beauty Advisors will be trained in hair care products and styling tools, as well.

A few months ago, my local grocery store chain added a large beauty department when it remodeled. That area is also staffed with a Beauty Adviser at key times who offers mini makeovers, applies cosmetics and demonstrates the newest trends and techniques.

Beauty is all around us. No, that's not an esoteric observation about the world. It's a hard fact that will continue to impact your business. Whether that impact is positive or negative depends on how you market yourself.

What can you do? Play hard ball.

Yes, these large companies work hard to recruit the right people for the position, then they thoroughly train their Beauty Advisers in how to use and how to SELL their products. But their training cannot begin to compare with your cosmetology education. Start sharing that message today!

You're trained to create magic, to change hair physically and chemically with color, straighteners, flat irons and styling products. You've studied anatomy and physiology and you've learned how to diagnose and to recommend solutions for hair, skin and nails. And most importantly, you're trained to offer a woman who has had a stress-filled week a respite from the constant demands her family and job place on her. Even if she only spends an hour or two with you, she can leave feeling transformed, alive and beautiful again–thanks to the power of your touch.

Beauty Advisers cannot begin to compete with that magic — that's not their role. Their role is to sell. They also provide some education and information, but with the sole purpose of enticing the shopper to buy. Because they're so accessible, they can be much more helpful than the department store cosmetics counter associates, who are usually familiar with only one brand.

And speaking of department stores, think back about 10 years ago, when the primary competition we talked about came from department stores. They barely get a mention today, because the beauty landscape has changed so dramatically. Consumers do not want to be "sold" from behind glassed off cases.

That's why some department store brands like Clinique are trying a dramatically new approach — for them — by doing away with the glass cases and opening up a bigger self-service area where women can browse without pressure. Yes, more and more, you will see department store counters mimicking the Ulta or the beauty boutique model. Why? Because the consumer is queen and you either offer services and products in the type of environment she prefers, or she's going to shop somewhere else.

That brings us back full circle to your role as the ultimate Beauty Adviser, beauty provider and personal beauty shopper all rolled into one. It doesn't have to be intimidating, expensive or time intensive to assume the role that is rightfully yours.

You already have your client's trust. Share beauty information that's meaningful to her on every visit. Have an iPad at your station with links to all of the hottest beauty and fashion sites that you've selected just for her. Offer her a new product sample every time she comes in—ask your distributors about what's available to you for free or on promotion.

Be the first to preview the new fall hair and cosmetics colors. Show her fashionable new nail colors and nail art designs, with a few that you've selected especially for her.

Finally, make your salon a fun place to shop. You don't have to invest thousands of dollars in inventory. You simply need to create an intimate environment built around your clients and what's meaningful and fun for them. And you already know what that is — because you are your clients' ultimate Beauty Adviser.

Jayne Morehouse is a columnist for Stylist Newspapers and the president of Jayne & company, a full-service brand communications agency for beauty companies and salons. Follow her on Twitter @JaynePR and @BeautyIQ and connect with her on