With inflation rates reaching record levels, many businesses will be dealing with a more price-conscious customer. In the United States, inflation is at the highest level since 1982, while the Euro-Zone saw a 7.5% rate in March, with experts predicting that it still has more to climb. In fact, you may even be thinking of raising your own prices–a precarious position that even the most business-savvy salon owners can fear. Phorest carried out a price sensitivity analysis with over 1,300 salon customers, across 9 countries, to find out exactly how much pricing matters to the client of 2022. And guess what? Price matters, but it’s not a deal-breaker.
Phorest found that only 32% of consumers are drawn to a salon because of price, behind referrals (52%) and reputation (36%).
However, price still remains a top reason a client would choose to move salons, ranking third:
- If their preferred service provider left (29%)
- If they moved and the location was no longer convenient (27%)
- Price/affordability (25%)
So, while price is not the ultimate factor in keeping your clients coming back, it can become a factor in why someone would consider leaving. Still, it’s important to remember that a salon isn’t just any business. And your clients aren’t strictly rational economic robots. That haircut, manicure, fresh set of lashes, facial –whatever your clients come to you for– plays a more important role than what it is at face value.
In the face of inflation, it helps to look to the frequently cited “Lipstick Effect” coined by Leonard Lauder of Estée Lauder, in the early 2000s. It refers to the phenomenon when, even in difficult economic times, we continue to seek out small luxuries. We may forgo a new car or a flashy vacation, but we will treat ourselves to a latte, a trip to the movies–or a visit to the salon. Like lipstick, a trip to the salon is symbolic.
For many people, it’s a source of confidence. It represents freedom, agency to transform their appearance. It’s self-care. It’s a sanctuary. You are providing far more than just a service, you are providing an experience. And the more you can elevate this experience–drawing your clients away from the transactional thinking of other day-to-day tasks–the less you will need to compete on price. Tapping into this emotional side, building positive memories, is how to gain your clients’ loyalty.
In our research, we asked clients:
“If you could wave a magic wand, what would you want to see from your salon?”
The top two categories of response were about price (because honestly who wouldn’t want a free haircut if magic is involved) and “in-salon experience.” These were basically neck and neck–with only a handful of responses in the difference. Ranging from massage chairs to champagne, to a piano in reception, some of the most popular answers within “in-salon experience” related to making their time in the salon, as one respondent wrote, “a little bit more luxurious.”
Video game station
Long live the experience economy
Living through the pandemic has starved many of us of novelty and real, tangible experiences beyond our screens. Getting out of the house is more of an event than it ever has been. So why not maximize the opportunity? Welcome your clients back in style.
While cleanliness remains important, there is also a real call to return to some of our pre-pandemic ways, before many salons had to banish amenities in favor of sanitation. We’ve been navigating “sterile” spaces for over two years now and are missing the personal touch. Many are now eager for the modest joys we’ve been deprived of: to sip a coffee, flip through a magazine, make small talk with their stylist and suspend their worries for a while.
Your in-salon experience and your client relationships work together
It’s practically a cliche at this point, but relationships matter. This is why referrals, not a cheap price tag, are by far the most significant driving force in winning over new clients. What you offer on your service menu is only part of the equation. In addition to the many hats a salon owner or staff member already wears, they are also a host. The experience you offer in the salon reinforces the strength of your relationships with clients. The thoughtful details you can offer, whether that’s a drink or a nice place to sit, demonstrates that you want the same things that you’d want for any guest you are hosting at home: for them to feel welcome, comfortable and to enjoy themselves.
Raising your prices is a normal part of running a business
Your clients live in the real world too. With the cost of everything else going up, a price increase from you shouldn’t exactly be a total shock. However it may feel even riskier, understandably, after all the back and forth of lockdown. Yet, there is still no way around it. To survive inflation, you will need to charge enough to remain profitable and keep your business growth on track.
What the last two years have shown us is that the salon is a beloved part of “normal” life. Many people feel that they’ve already buckled down and already missed out on the things they love. Now they want to keep coming if they can justify it. So lean into their desire to indulge. What can you do to make their visit feel like an outing? By adding a bit of magic to your salon experience (even something small and cost-effective ) you can time your price increase with a sense of added value. What is it that Mary Poppins says?
Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.
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