The New Beauty-Shopper… How to Get Her to Buy in Your Salon

Recently at America's Beauty Show (ABS) in downtown Chicago, the Salon Owners Business Forum brought a wealth of information on building and keeping your clientele — by understanding them better and exceeding their needs. For this forum, called Smart Thinking – Straight Talk, ABS turned to P&G Salon Professional for in-depth content on how to take back salon clients. John Moroney, VP, salon business development, interviewed P&G's shopper-based design manager, Mark Komenecky, who talks about how to create seamless service-to-retail experiences in the salon.

"Salons have been told for years that clients will buy if a salon has a pretty retail area and testers," explains Moroney. "It is not working today. What has changed?"

Komanecky answered. "The beauty shopper has changed. We see three major changes in buying patterns that affect salons."

1. Shoppers have more choices in where and how to buy beauty. Direct to consumer shopping—via online, TV, smart phones -- is exploding, creating easy product availability.

2. Shoppers are confused. More than 200 beauty brands were launched in the last decade, though less than 20 percent of them are still on-shelf.

3. Shoppers are far more informed today. They research products with friends or online, as well as study magazines for editorial recommendations. Salons should remember clients are shoppers toos.

What else do salons need to know about today's beauty shopper?

Time and accessibility are the new value. Shoppers do not have a lot of time to shop -- so they need to find it fast and get on with their lives.

Additionally, accessibility is a key dimension for today's shopper. Salons can take advantage of this new value equation by talking about products they offer -- perhaps even via an ad sent to the customer's mobile device.

Other retail channels are enhancing the beauty shopping experience. What can the salon do?

Salons can bring the client / beauty shopper in with a seamless transition from the services she loves to the products she buys. Know your core customer -- that 20 percent of clients who often generate 80 percent of your total revenue. Look at making physical changes that make shopping easier.

Conventional retailing wisdom said, "Consumers want choice" so you need to carry many lines. Is that still true?

Consumers still want choice -- but today they want relevant choice. Our research actually proves less is more. Savvy salon owners have the advantage here. With a smaller assortment of well-known brands and the all-important stylist recommendation, the client is less likely to go elsewhere to figure it out herself.

Could the changes you talk about result in lost salon revenue and clients?

If you know your core customer and market directly to her, she will respond positively. The salon's advantage over every other retailer is its professional personnel. Stylists can give a personal consultation about services and products that the client cannot get on Twitter, Yelp or anywhere else. She really wants somebody to tell her why something is good or not good for her.

How do salons compete with big box retailers with big promotion budgets?

Here's Komanecky's advice:

Partner with the right manufacturer. Leverage large companies, like P&G Salon Professional, with the shopper data that you can turn into sales.

Really know your target client before you decide what products to offer, how to arrange your retail area.

Differentiate your salon from others. Know your strong points and amplify them to the 20% of clients who purchase 80% of your services and products.

Try something! Take a small step. If it works, roll it out.

Focus on the foundation, the services and the relationship you have with clients, and not just making everything "look pretty."

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