Why Retail Sales are Down…and How to Fix It!

It would be easy to blame the current slide of retail sales on the ever weakening U.S. economy but that would mask the “real problem” that many salon owners are experiencing today.  The retail sales decline is really a symptom of a much larger problem that finds its roots in a well-known marketing axiom.

An axiom that, over the last 8-10 years, has really been ignored because of the almost instant success of the supermarket model of selling retail products to clients.  You know what I am talking about, the “carry 3-5 nationally recognized product lines and the clients will come looking for the products” model that many salons have adopted since the late 90’s.

Well, this model is now broken.  Much like many of the models that were developed during the last economic expansion.  But does that mean that we need to forget about retail sales ever increasing again?  The answer is “no”, if you just get back to the proven principles of the axiom that I spoke of earlier called “product differentiation”.

Look, the reason that clients no longer buy salon retail products in great numbers is because most of them have no idea of the differences between a Redken shampoo and Pantene!  Not to pick on Redken, because you could say that about 90% of the product lines out there.  If the client has no idea about the “value” of the product then they fall back on the only thing that they do know and that is PRICE.

So today, clients are opting to go to their local supermarkets to buy the Pantenes of the world rather than buy the more expensive products.  Now, most of you are probably saying “Well, my stylists don’t want to ‘sell’ retail products”.  And I couldn’t agree with you more.  Less than 10% of stylists can sell anything, so don’t think that beating up your staff will alter your retail sales in the long run.  It won’t.

What you need to do as a salon owner is get your clients to “ask your staff” about the products.  You do this by creating curiosity in the minds of the clients.  Let me give you an example of how to do this.

Go to CVS or your local supermarket and pick up 10-15 different popular shampoos and conditioners.  Set up a small display in your salon that has all the store-bought products on one side of the table and your best products on the other side.  Then put a sign in the middle that says “Ask us why using these products will ruin your expensive color”.  That will certainly create the curiosity.

Have the display set up in your waiting room.  While the client is waiting for their appointment, you will see them visiting your new display.  You should have a simple 1-page document that tells the client why your salon products are the only products that they should be using on their hair.  We all know that if a person is spending big money on hair color, they will not want to ruin it by using a cheap shampoo or conditioner.   

Once the client knows the “value” of the more expensive product, they can differentiate the products in their own mind.  Your retail sales will increase without the need of turning your stylists into salespeople.  You can also cut back on the total amount of retail products you are carrying in your salon, because there is no longer the need for a shotgun approach to selling retail.

Try this idea out and get your retail sales moving in the right direction again!

Best Regards,

Steve Sampson


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