Hair colour and the professional difference

The business of colour has never had a more exciting opportunity. With the growth of balayage and more creative colour techniques; the best ever shade choices and formulas and an increasing demand for stunning locks, driven by social media, our salons should be booming.

There certainly shouldn’t be any competition between a salon, where you’re looked after by a skilled professional, or DIY with a box bought over a counter.

Yet these amazing facts and figures, courtesy of my friends at L’Oreal, show that we’re still struggling to convince clients that dyeing their hair is best left in the hands of us pros.

  • 18 million women have coloured their hair. UK women are hair colourists with an astonishing 8 in 10 that have coloured their hair at least once in their lives with half of them currently doing so.
  • Unfortunately, the vast majority are home colourists: 2 in 3 colour at home. Ouch!
  • 47% of people who have their hair coloured colour at home, compared to 25% in the salon. The other 20% are the ‘mixers’, who have their hair dyed in the salon or at home. We all have the clients that come in every so often but do touch ups at home, guessing their way through aisle 7 in the supermarket to pick a colour.
  • 44% of salon users are mixers compared to 33% of home colourists, so the risk is greater to our industry.
  • The research suggests one million women would return to the salon if they could get the right shade. So we are failing to engage with consumers.
  • 10 years ago salon visits where at 6 visits a year, today we are looking at 7 salon visits and although tastes have changed and lived-in colour is on trend, it’s clear that something has gone wrong and an opportunity is being missed.

So how can we stand out from the box colour aisle of the supermarket and chemist? What is the professional difference that is going to get clients back in our salons and walking around with the beautiful hair colour they deserve?

The pro difference with hair colour

For me the pro difference is all down to the customer experience and that means offering a professional and appealing service at every stage of the customer journey.

  1. It starts at the shop front. Your window must appeal to potential clients and be reflective of your brand.
  2. The reception area. Receptionists are so important. It’s a job I could never do as they have to deal with so much, but they can make or break a salon.
  3. The consultation/colour bar. You can read my thoughts on colour consultations The key is to make sure it is part of the colour experience and that the client feels listened to.
  4. The back bar/shampoo area. For many women the hair wash and head massage is the highlight of the experience. Studies show that if a client has a bad experience in this area she might not come back to the salon, so assistants need to be well trained to deliver the best shampoo ever.
  5. The cutting and styling area. Keep this clean and well lit.
  6. The retail area. Retail is a no-brainer. Your clients want you to recommend products or they’ll head off to aisle 6 not quite sure what their looking for. We are the pros and we need to show the pro difference all the way through the journey, which means retail should have already been discussed at the colour area and the styling area.
  7. The check out. The final piece of the puzzle. It should be a smooth checkout with no surprise bill. A smile and a thank you will go a long way.

Of the 25% of women who always have their hair coloured in salon and the 20% who are mixers, salons do really well with blondes – if anything we over index in blondes, but under index in Brunettes reds auburn and others. It’s probably because blondes don’t feel they can recreate their colour at home.

Hair colour by age group

In the 17-34 age group we have an 11% penetration; 69% colour at home when they want to enhance their colour or change their look. We need to recruit them and get them into the salon. To appeal to these ‘millennials’ we need to drive a desire so they don’t ‘need’ it, they ‘want’ it.

In the 35-44 age group we have a 16% penetration, so we also need to recruit them back into the salon.  At home colour is flat with this age group, but there is a slight increase in salon visits as they do want to enhance their colour or cover grey. We need to recruit the thirty-to-forty-something clients because once they become salon users they are more loyal. They need to be given options and solutions for the first greys without getting into a vicious cycle. This age group’s time is precious, so the salon experience needs to be worthwhile.

In the 45-54 age group we have a 21% penetration, but we need to reengage with them and not take them for granted. While 45+ clients are the greatest proportion of salon users many are choosing at-home colour as it can perform as well for grey coverage. In 45-54 year olds the opportunity is new services across different hair lengths, not just short hair, as well as options for global colour. These clients want value-added services and they need to have colour that is tailor-made for them so that they can feel the value of the pro difference.

Finally, the 55-74 age group. They need to feel the salon as a luxurious treat they want manageable and easy hair and help in transition across grey/white hair.

In part two, we’ll be exploring the opportunities that different colour clients represent in a little more detail. I’ve got lots more fascinating colour facts and I’ll be sharing more ideas of how you can make the most of the pro difference.

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