The currency of time has changed; a golden opportunity for salons.
Before Covid-19 we didn’t have enough time; everybody was rushed and pressured — go-go-go. Now, life has changed and we may become more selective on “who” we spend time with. We discuss the ramifications of the new currency of time on the hair and beauty service industry.
Nobody can predict the future, there is no crystal ball. If you’d asked me in January what my life in April would look like, it wasn’t this. As I’m sure is the case for every single person reading this.
Change is the one constant, and its pace has quickened to a heady speed that most of us are struggling to keep up with. Anxiety is coursing through (most of) us, driven by uncertainty for the future and a longing for the past.
But there is no “going back”. This is our new normal and we’re still not even sure what the lay of that land might look like. But there are a few things that we might be able to bank on:
- The novelty of isolation and downtime disappears as the bubbles we’re in become increasingly suffocating and more economic losses are felt. Instability and uncertainty create anxiety.
- How people react to adversity is likely to divide us again. The kinship in humanity being felt and displayed in these early stages of isolation (like in my home country, New Zealand), may well make way for blame and recrimination as the emotional pressure of the pandemic increases. Everybody wants a solution. Now.
- Human connection, which we deeply need, is under threat and, if it’s even possible, this might mean that we trust strangers even less. In previous post-war generations and in more recent times terrorist attacks, people have reverted to a ‘look after our own’ tribal mentality. This will be even more so the case with COVID-19; I suspect when we’re “allowed” to leave our bubble, we’re not likely to run out into society hugging and kissing everyone we see.
But what does all this mean for the service industry? For hair and beauty businesses, where intimacy is part of the process of application? A lash technician is right up in my face. A hairdresser is rubbing my scalp. A waxer…well, you get my drift. What am I going to be comfortable with and what will I say is no longer acceptable? What extra information will I need to make those very personal-bubble-crossing decisions?
The answer lies in trust. Unlike the last recession where deal sites blossomed (Groupon etc) and discounts drove people back into salons (and just getting it done was more important than quality), we may find that after many months (or longer) of DIY it has also shifted our mentality on what we really “need” vs. “want”. Economic situation will also impact that, with global predictions of double digit unemployment. This means customers will have less money to spend, are likely to be caring less about their appearance and not as susceptible to the same marketing tactics deployed BC (Before Covid). They will be very wary.
But, and thankfully, there is a but. We’re still a vain bunch that want to look and feel good and this is intrinsically linked to our desires, our sexuality and even procreation itself. Basic human hierarchy of needs are at play; we need attraction, intimacy and how we appear is directly related to our confidence and how we outwardly project our personalities. I put on lipstick or a nice piece of clothing when I need to feel brighter, it’s about bringing a colour and cheer to my day and that’s why lipstick sales have always soared in war times. But we may finally see a shift away from this heavily made up, false look that was derived from the Kardashian era. The cats out of the bag on our real hair colour. A more wholesome, natural and maintainable look is likely to be the trend du jour. Who knows when we might have our freedom taken away again; we’re going to be getting more self sufficient. Hands up who’s now planting a vege garden of some sort? Taken up sewing?
So, there is going to be a regrowth, but it might not play out how you’d expect. BC we saw the rise of the “at home” activity, where the on demand economy meant you could have any manner of services conducted within your home or workspace. The tech enabling this meant that an individual service provider could be matched up to a customer, and half an hour later your back is being cracked on a pop-up table in your living or work meeting room. Convenience was the necessary driver in an incredibly busy and overworked culture. Now, I can’t see anyone booking an appointment at an unknown place, or inviting a stranger into their home, without having first inspecting and considering the standards to ensure serious and rigorous hygiene standards are upheld. Proof that I can safely invite you into my bubble will be vital.
We all knew we were teetering on the unsustainable edge. Every single one of us felt close enough to manic, the pressure has been ON for a long time. As we wrote about earlier this year, the hair and beauty industry has been at risk of being irrelevant for a while, as customers demanded their time back where it was being so obviously disrespected. Terrible booking experiences, inconsistencies in pricing, duration and outcome, all meant that where once there was a strong relationship between the customer and practitioner, erosion was showing in attrition.
Now, the customer has been given back their time (sort of). We’re spending more time at home, less in traffic, a growing Work From Home force. And, as a result, the hair and beauty industry has been handed a GOLDEN opportunity to take back the share it lost over recent years to the fragemented network of independents and outliers. People will need proof; that you’re trustworthy, that you are valuing their health, that you’re not putting them at risk. Professional outfits, set up correctly can provide that.
How do we go about it? We set standards as an industry. We look to examples such as the restaurant trade did in the early 20th century, and we introduce very clear best practice guidelines. But rather than allow regulation to suffocate us, we ensure the industry leaders are putting forward and leading it. We remove all ambiguity and we respect the new boundaries AND customer’s time. Because now time isn’t that they don’t have enough of it, it’s that they will be very selective over who they spend it with.
The next generation of services is in making people feel at ease.
Article written by Jenene Crossan Co-Founder and CEO of Powered by Flossie, technology that allows product companies to access and aggregate distribution network (salon) data. The technology solves a technically difficult strategic pain point commonly held by every product company servicing the hair / beauty sector.