Before the internet and social media, there were no channels for hair professionals to build trust with clients aside from in the salon. Working as a freelance hair stylist today, I have learned to incorporate elements of social media into the experience. In preparation for appointments, I ask my clients to create a private Pinterest board so that we can share ideas and overall expectations for their big day. This helps me guide conversations and understand the client’s style, to tailor my technique based on their preferences.
Much like I have modified the way I understand my clients and personalize their experience, direct-to-consumer hair care brands are changing the traditional hair industry. These brands are redefining the new age of hair, with trust and expertise remaining the focus.
Today, the beauty consumer expects customization and personalization from the brands they engage with. The U.S. hair category, which grew its sales a healthy 16 percent in 2017*, has looked towards personalization as a way for it to reinvent itself from the more traditional way consumers engage with the category. Hair care brand Function of Beauty is a prime example of a brand that’s leveraging this strategy. They pride themselves on their mission statement: “We celebrate you as the unique individual that you are; who you are and what you want - beyond your hair type, goals and preferences.” This type of messaging communicates “me” to the consumer, demonstrating that each customer has his/her own unique wants and needs as opposed to serving up a “one size fits most” product portfolio. Function of Beauty recognizes that consumers “should have ownership and choice” with the products they use. Consumers are instructed to create a hair profile on the brand’s website that consists of answering a series of questions including hair type and structure, scalp moisture, and desired hair goals. As consumers move through the questionnaire, the brand offers a number of options for them to select the color and desired scent of their shampoo and conditioner. The final touches include the consumer’s name printed on his/her custom created shampoo and conditioner bottle.
While Function of Beauty incorporates consumer profiling in their positioning, a younger brand is taking this strategy to the next level. Hair care brand Prose uses a proprietary algorithm to create more than 50 million combinations of formulas geared towards a series of profiling questions. Prose recognizes how important that trust between stylist and client still is, which is why they decided to incorporate the stylists’ know-how into their business model by partnering with them to offer an in-salon consultative service along with customized product solutions. Although consumers can complete the multi-step hair analysis on their own using the brand’s website, they’re encouraged to maintain that more traditional relationship with their stylist all while utilizing the advanced consultative offering.
As technological advancements are enhancing the consumer experience within the beauty space, the hair category beyond the professional sector should look outside of traditional norms to evolve. If direct-to-consumer brands are at the forefront addressing the wants and needs of consumers by incorporating bespoke beauty offerings into their business models, brands and professionals must think beyond service, training, and product to maintain the trust-based relationships with their loyal clients.
*Source: The NPD Group / U.S Prestige Beauty Total Measured Market, January-December 2017