Ken’s clinic

Ken’s diagnosis:

This is a question that regularly crops up when salons perceive they are losing sales to online retailers. First, let’s accept the fact that there is always someone out there prepared to offer whatever your product is, cheaper than you. Be that a haircut or a bottle of shampoo.

But let’s not forget that everyone has a choice. Some will choose to shop online with the associated benefits and some prefer the experience of physical shopping. However, the important word here is EXPERIENCE. If all a salon does is line up bottles of shampoos and conditioners on shelves, just like a supermarket, then where is the experience? Please don’t get me wrong, professional merchandising of your products is vital, but more important is creating a buying experience. I visited a major retailer of soaps and shampoos last year and was blown away by the experience. So blown away that my partner and I bought products that neither of us needed, simply because we were allowed to enjoy the experience of actually using the products. This multi-sensory experience then created the desire to buy. Huge circular basins where you could play with products in the way you would be using them… with water; embracing the senses of touch and smell, and not merely sight alone. Often salons don’t even have clearly identified tester bottles, let alone provide a ‘wet area’. 

In June I wrote about the attitude of stylists toward retailing and how one actually managed to get 43 per cent of her clients leaving the salon with the products she had used on them. She shared her expert knowledge, the benefits of the products and explained how to use them. She then made an assumptive sale to ensure clients left the salon with the products they needed to get fabulous results at home.

The two key points are the Experience and the recommendation from an Expert.

Now I am going to be slightly contentious. We know that recommending the right products to achieve great results builds customer trust and loyalty. I also believe that adding value is a far better way to increase turnover than discounting. Maybe it’s time to consider using take-home products to build our businesses or reducing mark-ups to increase sales. There is no right or wrong, but today’s marketplace is certainly different and will continue to change.


Ken West is director of business experts 3•6•5 – email him on


Ken West