Let’s get emotional

The UK high street is an increasingly tough place to operate.  With a saturated market, rising online players and declining visits, the in-person experience has never been more valuable. Consider the journey of your client through her appointment with you, and it might just make all the difference.

Creating a space that people want to visit – to linger and relax in – makes a big difference to loyalty, to trust and to spend. Novelty and service challenge that loyalty; it means that the pressure is on salons to stay relevant for their clients. L’Oréal Professional Product Division’s transformative Salon Emotion programme has targeted a similar agenda. It’s about offering training and raising awareness of services, personalised advice and guidance on modernising salons; providing more services and more personalisation throughout a client’s journey through the salon at every possible touchpoint.

When Chelsea’s Lockonego suffered a flood, co-founder Jonathan Long used it as an opportunity to revamp the salon’s concept from scratch. “We worked with Salon Emotion and the designer to plan out the retail, backwash and mask bar concepts,” explains Jonathan. “We came up with a concept: a private members club/gastro pub vibe. It has bare brick, parquet floor, wood panels, splashes of colour… but, most of all, a salon that didn’t look like a traditional salon, a really light and open environment.”

At Blend in Derby, Jo Pilbeam’s experience with the programme has helped her future-proof her salon against online retail. “Salon Emotion was great at helping us to create a proper client journey. We like to get the clients involved by touching and smelling products on our Try Me Table, where you can have a play. Creating a retail area has been great for customer experience, and makes it feel like a retail shop.”

But how to get people through the salon door in the first place? It’s a challenge. Standing out on the high street is vital to salon survival. A key innovation that’s making a real impact is motion windows, a powerful way to modernise your salon window display (Lockonego now has one in its Kings Road location).

“Our digital windows are so attention grabbing. They really stop passers-by in their tracks and show off the latest hair trends and new products,” says Andrew Rodgers, founder of Funky Divas salons in Sheffield. On a practical front, it also makes it easier to change your visuals regularly and keep your messages and images fresh, and the movement helps attract more attention.

More than three-quarters of customers are influenced by videos at the point of sale, too. Some of it is about hitting your basic points – can your salon be found easily online, and does it look incredible? Is offering clear to potential customers? Are key products on display, with star goodies shown? Are you encouraging clients to share their finished looks and leave gushingly good reviews of your team?

Many women feel anxious entering the salon for the first time, so you want to be as encouraging and inviting as possible. And make any kind of wait as enjoyable as possible – our obsession with coffee is a great place to start. Radio Hair in King’s Cross and Sheffield’s Laundry include barista-hosted coffee areas in their salons, elevating the customer experience in a sensorial, modern way.

One of the main steps in Salon Emotion is the consultation. While some salons will carry this out at the styling station, it’s worth considering a dedicated area with two chairs to allow a true ‘face to face’ consultation – no mirror-based conversations. Here, you can bring the discussion alive with diagnosis tools, service menus, colour charts and even iPads loaded up with Pinterest boards or even an app that help clients visualise key looks on a selfie. Redken even updates a Pinterest page (@RedkenUKI) for a brilliant array of looks, and Josh Wood is well-known for reaching for Pinterest boards for his in-salon consultations.

Consultations are also brilliant at helping sell products. How?  Because this is where a hairdresser can illustrate their knowledge and expertise, and genuinely recommend the perfect matches to each guest sat chatting to them. A vital element of this is the notion of ‘retailment’, showcasing your skills in front of your customer, use tools to diagnose the ideal treatment and prescribe a homecare regime. It’s also about creating moments of theatre to thrill and excite.

The backwash  is a chance to showcase what makes you different. Plenty of women will admit that this as their favourite moment in salon, it’s an element to get everything spot on. If it’s not right, you’re running the risk that they won’t come back again…

The back bar needs to be located in a quieter area, separate from the buzzy salon atmosphere. Think dimmable lights, a partition wall or even a separate room for more relaxation. It’s a great place to add some branding, with products on clear display alongside treatment menus. Of course, clients don’t want to invest in salon appointments and products if they can’t reproduce the look they love at home. Recent studies have shown that consumers really trust their hairdresser and will buy into a recommendation, regardless of price.

Indeed, this recommendation approach seems to be what clients are missing. With merchandising tools and a fresh strategy, your staff won’t need to apply the hard sell. Perhaps a communal table without a mirror where customers can relax, read, use iPads or test products, is worth considering.

At Lockonego, Jonathan knew he wanted to expand and adapt his retail offering to create a more involved experience. “We have opened up our retail area so clients feel free to touch and feel the products, and this has worked wonderfully for us. Sales are up 15 per cent,” he explains. “The mask bar has been successful as it gets the conversation started, and we can create bespoke treatments for each individual client. We introduced a new way of taking bills that has also improved our sales.”

Retail areas at George Northwood and The Chapel are stand-out examples – visible and accessible. Clear pricing and navigation for self-service are important too. Redken has created shelf talkers, designed in the language that people search in – think ‘for coloured hair’ and ‘for flat hair’, alongside clipper card stands that call out ‘#trending’, ‘best sellers’,  and ‘new arrivals’. This helps close the loop on all the buzz clients will have seen about Redken products across social media, particularly from influencers.

Salon events where clients can try out services and products can also have a feel good boost on retail sales and client engagement. A great example is the Big Hair Do, where 100 salons open their doors for one night in September.

Finally, once that client is finished and looking fabulous in your chair, get them to share. “The power of the selfie today on social media is huge – and it’s a fantastic advertisement for your staff’s skills. So think about getting those selfies on point,” advises Melissa Fernandez, UK and Ireland general manager for Redken.

Eleven Hair

Eleven Hair has designed a 3D flower wall for clients to capture their selfie looks, while Liverpool’s Voodou has a neon ‘Fit Hair’ light, as well as selfie backdrop. No wonder an increasingly standard piece of kit in the salon is a ring light, for the most flattering light possible.

Staying on top of current trends – especially wider beauty trends rather than just the latest in hair – can also serve as a distinct way to stand out among peers. Lockonego’s new Ear Candy styles have been designed to show off the statement earring trend seen across the catwalks. Other key trends to pick up on include blow-dry bars for the athleisure trend and the always-switched-on city types, the rise of vegan or natural ingredients and environmentally-friendly packaging, or even skincare-inspired ingredients and formulations such as scalp scrubs. Successful salon retail, like the best ideas, cannot flourish in a vacuum.

Bringing in new products that can catch the customer’s eye is still the easiest way to ramp up retail within salons. Redken has won more awards for its products than any other professional brand, and for good reason. Forward-thinking and progressive, Redken’s strong scientific heritage means that it is always pushing the boundaries and expectations of what can be created.

Its Korean-inspired All Soft Mega Sheet Mask has that element of play and fun which is so crucial when introducing clients to something new. It’s the perfect little packet to keep at the reception desk, curious clients will find it a little bit intriguing and it offers the impulse purchasing that so many high street fashion retailers do so well! Also concerned with the health of hair in an age of bleaching and processing (thanks Instagram!) is the new Color Extend Blondage care line, developed in response to hairdresser demand for a purple-pigmented shampoo within the Redken portfolio. It ticks a big box in terms of customer demand, addressing a huge search trend for how to solve brassiness and breakage in super blonde hair.

Meanwhile the recent launch of the Redken Brews range for men similarly invokes familiarity and ease, with its beer-bottle shapes and malt-infused formulas, underpinned by the range’s scientific credentials. Redken Brews’ new Cut & Camo service offers the perfect blend of quick colour, in just five minutes, and a fresh cut – more services and less time required means smarter sales.

With more and more designers wanting an artfully undone look, Redken global creative director, Guido Palau, was frustrated that nothing he had in his kit seemed to create the desired effect. The Redken No Blow Dry Air Stylers are the result of his work with the brand’s innovation team to create products for the perfect air dry look, no matter the hair texture. While created with a fashion angle, the rising popularity of natural hair texture creates that link to your client, bringing the creative ideas of the catwalk to the salon.

Want to learn how to refocus your customer experience and grow your business? Redken will be hosting complimentary Salon Emotion events this October. To book, email