Top Trends to Watch for in 2011

by Jayne Morehouse

The New Year offers a new frontier in beauty. With the economy rebounding slowly, clients are spending more on salon services and products again, but with an important difference. They want to buy the best but feel like they are getting a great value.

They want expertise backing up their purchase. In addition, they want to feel good about their decisions.

When you can tap into those emotions through your service menu, your product recommendations and your expertise, they will feel connected to you. In fact, listening to your clients and meeting their needs accordingly will drive your business growth. Here is a checklist of top trends to get you up to speed.

Eco-Smart Products that Really Work

In the past, you had to choose between natural formulas and spectacular results. Today, that is no longer the case. Thanks to scientific breakthroughs, natural and organic can go hand-in-hand with performance. Add in all of the negative press about potentially harmful ingredients in popular beauty services and products, and consumers are asking for natural like never before. That means you will need a portfolio of healthier alternatives. This is in addition to, or in place of what you currently offer to show your clients you are listening to them.

Luckily, there are plenty of brands from which to choose. The Zerran Reform Natural Hair Straightening System is a botanically based vegan method for straightening hair permanently without keratin, formaldehyde or any other harsh chemicals. The Tela line from master hairdresser and salon owner Philip Pelusi offer organic with a performance edge. Iden International offers multifunctional products that tap the power of bee propolis combined with botanicals.

Many cosmetics lines now have a natural positioning. Skincare and even nail product companies are getting involved. Just be sure to read the ingredients before purchasing products to make sure the marketing is not hype.

Customized Niche Products

In today's world of ultimate customization, clients want to feel that you are catering just to them with the products and services you offer. For example, curly girls want to know that you have the special skills needed to cut and style their hair – both curly and straight – and the products for them to take home to get the looks between salon visits.

Companies, like DevaCurl, were founded especially to care for curly hair, while Jane Carter Solution, Curls and Mixed Chicks give clients with dry, curly, textured and multiracial hair the moisture they need to spring to life. The same is true of colored hair, problem nails, oily facial skin or dry body skin.

The key is to take your learning beyond the label and the product knowledge to another level of expertise. The value your clients will place on your new expertise will result in stronger loyalty and increased service and product purchases for all of their beauty needs.

Time Savers for Both You and Your Clients

In today's world, time is precious. In fact, the lack of time is one of the top stressors people face. However, if you save just five minutes an hour, by the end of a 12-hour day, you will have gained an extra 60 minutes. Wouldn't you and your clients love that?

Beauty product marketers have caught on and are developing their products to meet that need. Last year, Kenra Professional launched Platinum Blow-Dry Spray. Not only does it dramatically decrease blow-dry time, but it helps blowouts last longer. Many tool companies offer wet-to-dry flat irons, saving you a step, and powered-up blow dryers, like FHI Heat's EPS 2100 Blow Dryer, which can cut drying time by 50%. Again, add that up over your day, and you will be able to squeeze in two more clients without missing lunch.

Working Together

In an age where email and social networking have us connecting via computer to more people more than ever— hello, high school friends!— but increasingly isolated on a physical level. We are spending more time online, even when we are physically with our friends. This year, it is important for both your professional and personal well-being to connect with your friends, professional colleagues, even your distributor salon consultants and the educators for the products you carry IN PERSON.

Social Networking

And speaking of connecting, chances are, you are using Facebook and other social media personally. However, are you tapping their potential for your professional life? If not, start searching for salons, stylists and other beauty professionals on Facebook and see how they're using social media to position themselves as experts to their clients, driving new business, sharing the newest information from their product partners and sharing their stories—but in a way that's meaningful to their clients.

The More You Know

It is worth repeating: At no time has continuing education been more important. With product companies speaking directly to your clients through their advertising, websites and social media, and consumers sharing stories of their best—and worst—experiences online as fast as they can type, you have to stay a couple of steps ahead—or risk having them know more than you do about the newest product category, service or trend. Education is available everywhere you turn—from shows and classes to DVDs and online and in your favorite professional newspapers, like The Stylist!

Jayne Morehouse is president of Jayne & company, a full-service brand communications agency. Reach her at jayne@jayneandco.com or visit her agency profile on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/dVIvHW.

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