May 2008

The Challenges of Marketing to Children and Men

By Mandy Zelinka

It’s easy to market to only a single, high-demand sector of the population. However, the benefits of advertising to an expanded audience are many.

So let’s start at the beginning. Why market to children? They potentially scream, they squirm, you can’t charge enough, the list goes on. A positive way to advertise to clients is to open with “we love well behaved children.” This way, you aren’t alienating anyone, while still making your need for peace in the salon a priority. But there is more.

Children are one of the greatest forms of advertisement you can have as a stylist. Children are cute by design, made only cuter by a great cut. I can’t tell you how many clients will come to you because not only did they like their girlfriend’s hair, but also their child’s haircut made their final decision to switch stylists an easy one.

Sure, you can charge more for kids if you so choose, but I believe the opportunity outweighs the potential for disaster. You can keep child prices low to attract parents and their friends. Moreover, the best part about this whole process is they grow up to be full-price paying adolescents and adults.

Men, on the other hand, are a tricky target market in the beauty industry. Many salons focus more on their female clientele, and for good reasons: word of mouth references, frequent color upkeep and ease of product add-ons. However, no salon would be wise to ignore a whole sector of potential income. Perhaps focus your next marketing campaign on male style needs.

A perfect example of well-executed marketing to men would be HairM for men, located in Portland, Oregon. They offer attractive women, beer, sports and massage. Men flock to this salon for its lack of pretension.

Although many full service salons would not want to switch to such a niche market, they could add a few simple male elements. One such example would be stocking Sports Illustrated or ESPN Magazine in your waiting area, or offering beer in addition to wine choices for client beverages.

Also, consider the entire sensory experience of salon going. “Men are sold off of experience. If they like something, they are going to buy it. This is where they make 90 percent of their purchases,” says Jill Montchalin, of Cosmoprof. Find ways to help the clients feel at ease and less stressed so their memories of your salon are entirely positive.

For example, males, as well as females, love an aromatic scalp massage at the shampoo bowl. They will feel relaxed, catered to and grateful that you spent extra time on them. This is also, of course, the perfect place to start retailing to clients. Use an aromatherapy product associated with a line you carry at your salon; not only will the salon smell inviting in general, your client will associate the pleasant scent with your salon.

Finally, salons should remember that many women purchase products on behalf of the men in their lives. Marketing to men really starts, as with marketing to children, with women, the ones doing the household buying and scheduling. Next time you step behind your chair, a question you could easily ask is, “I would love to meet your boyfriend or husband; do you think he would ever come down and let me tend to his locks?” She probably won’t even notice your sneaky marketing, and will most likely think you are simply trying to ease her mind about her man’s style. You can suggest booking him when she is making her next appointment before she leaves.

Men’s marketing is not difficult, but does take some forethought and planning. Make the best use of your resources by finding low and no-cost additions that can help provide the most inviting salon environment for both genders. The resulting positive word of mouth may surprise you

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