It’s Time to Take Back Our Clients

By Reuben Carranza, P&G North America Salon Professional

Beauty is our business. It’s a business that’s been part of my life for a long time.

As the son of a hairdresser, I grew up noticing the extraordinary relationship my mother had with her clients.

Most of them came to her every week. They totally trusted her advice on their best look and how to care for their hair.

Weekly shampoos and sets, hair cuts, occasional perms or straightening, color when the time came -- these were all services hairdressers did so clients wouldn’t have to do it themselves. Back then, salon retail meant rain bonnets, hair spray and maybe some hair accessories for special occasions.

Times have certainly changed. Even loyal clients now come to salons only every four to six weeks for a cut / blow dry and most likely some color service. They shampoo and style their own hair at home between salon appointments…some as often as daily. Collectively they buy millions of dollars of hair products to maintain their style between visits to your salons.

Along with these changes in consumer hair care patterns she has become more knowledgeable about her hair care needs. She searches out experts to find what she wants, when, where and how she wants it. These changes haven’t gone unnoticed by mass marketers like Target and Wal-Mart, drugstores like CVS and Walgreen’s, fashion boutiques like Victoria’s Secret and The Gap and many others. It’s a good idea to visit these competitors and see how they are improving the customer experience to encourage her to buy.

In reality, beauty is now a business that everyone is fighting for. It’s become a battle for the dollars, the mind and the attention of the beauty consumer.

One thing hasn’t changed; according to P&G research, the core beauty shopper, comprising about one-fourth of all clients, still spends more than half of her beauty dollars in the salon and is still eager to shop in the salon. Her hairstylist remains the undisputed expert on hair care.

The bad news is that the salon industry often fails to delight her and allows other retail outlets to woo her and her precious beauty dollars away from the salon. We firmly believe that now is the time we take back our rightful salon clients.

Who is this person everyone wants? What does she want from her salon and her stylist? Looking deeper into the P&G research, we found that about a tenth of the core beauty shoppers are salon-only purchasers. The remaining 90 percent are split between those who only shop at mass or specialty retail establishments and those who are open to buying in both the salon and at mass retail stores. It’s this last group that buys in both outlets that we in the professional beauty industry sometimes forget. But this group offers the biggest potential for salon growth.

Core beauty shoppers are thought leaders — they communicate what they like and dislike about a product or service. They are experience seekers, willing to take risks to be the first to try something new and informants, responding to sophisticated information and cultural and media-driven trends. They know what they want but expect their salon professionals to tell them what they need. And, they love to shop.

Get to know those clients even better. They offer the highest salon growth potential. Learn where they shop, how they shop and what you mean to them. Above all, while they are in your chair focus solely on their beauty needs. Don’t hesitate to make your professional recommendation for the products they need -- they want your advice. Give them a meaningful experience while they are in your salon, not just a haircut or color.

At P&G Salon Professional, we work closely with our salon partners to help assess your business plan and win with your best clients by focusing on the business “rule” of 80/20. We’ve seen again and again that 80 percent of your salon business comes from 20 percent of your clients. Focusing on these clients will allow you to continue to be their true and trusted advisor while watching your business grow.

If you want to learn more about the core beauty shopper or P&G Salon Professional brands including Wella Professionals, Sebastian Professional, Nioxin and Graham Webb, contact your P&G Salon Professional sales consultant, visit the website at or call 1-800-347-4424.

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