Personal observations from Jenene Crossan Kiwi Founder, based in London on modernising hair & beauty technology for a better customer experience.
I’m in the first few days of a 6-week stint and sixth trip of the year to London in 2019. Yes, it’s exhausting and no, I don’t have the cure for jet lag sorted (it actually gets worse).
I’ve recently joined The Wing, which is a women’s only Club in Central London. It’s five floors (and a rooftop garden) of indulgent feminism. Portraits of extraordinary and famously “difficult” women adorn the walls, there is a nursery, a gym, bar, beauty room, library (with only women’s titles), blatant “man repelling” decor (utterly gaudy and delightfully Granny retro), quiet spaces, and plenty of activities to join in on.
I missed out on all the girl-kinship that comes with the last years of high school, university and the famous kiwi OE — but somehow, this feels like my opportunity or insight into how that might have rolled. It’s an incredibly peaceful space, everybody smiles at each other and there’s just a sense of calm. I’ve never been one for “girls only” anything (I realise the irony), yet I actually see myself enjoying being here and the respite it provides. Especially as a very non-typical female founder, living on the other side of the world away from family and colleagues. Loneliness is often acute, and this may well be the balm I need in those low points.
Making the invisible, visible.
A lot of my job is figuring out how to move Powered by Flossie forward in an unbalanced market. The consumer is incredibly frustrated by their booking experiences, yet the industry is still at the basics. I went to Salon International in London recently (the largest hair trade show in the Northern Hemisphere) and there was a plethora of booking software systems just focused on getting salons away from paper based diaries.
That seems so archaic to me, knowing how much more than that the modern customer is demanding / needing — but I guess with a long tail in the industry (where over 80% of the salon market is owner-operator, less than 3 employees), you have to assume that the software companies are still just focused on the land-grab and contract signing of mopping up the laggards yet to convert.
For Powered by Flossie, that’s a huge opportunity, as no one is focused on customer experience and streamlining the booking experience.
When compared against other sectors, it seems once again the hair and beauty industry is the last to the party. The revenue opportunities being missed are extensive and it’s inspired us to investigate just how much. In the coming month we’ll be releasing data on spend that’s passing by, but within reach of those willing to adapt to the ways of the new consumer. If I look at other industries, and how they’ve adapted — you can see how money is moving and the share of wallet is being spliced in all new ways. A good local example is Deliveroo who have seen a lot of money shift from one area to another — convenience has won.
Excitingly, the product sector in beauty is catching up quickly. At Salon International the vegan and organic product companies were in high demand and on centre stage, a noticeable shift from previous years where they were hidden in the back corners.
The most amusing addition to the expo was Guy Tang, and his five bodyguards forming a human protection circle as he stormed the stage to screaming to thousands of hairdressers. With 2.2 million Instagram followers, the industry (whilst baffled by how this all happened) can really thank him (and others like Jen Atkin) for inspiring the next generation of stylists.
What I’m finding though, is that their desires are not to be in salons, but to have followers — there is a change in the air with the millennials, an obvious movement from ‘in salon’ to ‘in home’ activity. Not of the “on demand” variety (where you can get a stylist to come to you) that was widely touted as the “next big thing”, but of friend-to-friend experiences — a form of quid-pro-quo where money is exchanged, but negotiated based on a changed experience. The resurgence of home-door activity is on the cards, lead by a generation who want to see their mates paid more fairly and get a good price on the way through.
Customer experience takes an incredibly negative hit (I speak from experience of having given this a go and found myself on my knees on a friends shower floor having colour washed out), but when the pressure of wallet has become as tenuous as it is now (as consumers we want so much more and our discretionary spending has to go so much further) — I get the distinct feeling that the next generation will not even bother to allow themselves to experience the ‘high end’ in-salon experience.
There will undoubtedly always be scope for those who want to be pampered and enjoy their ‘me time’, but the pie is shrinking.
If I were a salon owner, I’d be considering how I could make my stylists feel less like ‘by the hour employees’ and more like partners in the business (like a law firm).
Pioneering and lead the charge certainly isn’t easy, yet there is technology out there that allows you to do this without having to pivot too far away from what you’re already doing or using.
What are you doing currently or considering to provide a better customer experience? Comment below with your thoughts.