Modernising UK Black Hair Salons
Black is always trending but when it comes to hair, there’s nothing trendier right now than the black female consumer. At a time with so many voices embracing the culture, the expression of blackness and this translating into the deep rooted topic of hair, it’s not hard to see why. An industry notoriously dominated by south Asian men has progressed throughout the 21st century to centre itself on the values of black women.
From the rise of Black owned hair companies such as ‘All Shades Covered’ transforming the dynamics of ownership in the UK industry, to how the increase of knowledge about black hair products and maintenance has affected consumption habits, It’s fair to say today black women are arguably the savviest they have ever been about their hair. Now that’s great but with all that being said, where exactly do black hair salons stand in all of this?
There simply aren’t enough #FactsAndStats on black hair salons and that’s enough to raise questions about them all together. A quick Google search will show anyone that they do exist across the whole country but the lack of a stable culture around them despite the thriving Black hair industry, also shows that being present doesn’t mean they have a presence.
What exactly is setting Black hair salons back? It can’t be a question of value because they offer as much value as any other type of business in the beauty industry and of course, this value is clearly visible in the white hair salon markets. But the answer is always within the consumer so it has to be a question of value. So where do black hair salons stand in terms of value to black women?
Businesswise, this is defined by the purpose behind why each hair salon began. Every business has an underlying purpose right? The problem comes when a business does not communicate their purpose well or at all and while it’s just a fraction of the setback, this comes from the lack of a brand story. Most black women couldn’t name 10 black hair salons with a brand story, heck they probably can’t name 10 hair salons because they don’t have brand stories.
Before that though, the black hair salons need to address where their value stands today and how it may develop to meet customer desires…
One of the biggest challenges black hair salons face today when it comes to providing value is the rise of D.I.Y culture of black women taking care of and styling their hair. There are countless amount of tutorials and inspiration videos on YouTube for almost any hair query a woman could have. The truth is that salons will never be able to eliminate this culture, but they have to face the fact it’s their number one opponent aside from the competition of other salons. Imagine not only competing with other salons for customers but actually competing with your customers for their custom? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
It’s about time black hair salons took inspiration from other sectors of the beauty industry. Fashion and makeup used to be somewhat luxuries or saved for special occasions but have grown to be everyday necessities for a large proportion of millennial women. Let’s face it, women don’t need every new collection or product that a cosmetic company brings out, and online fashion stores definitely get more visits than the best hair salon in the UK regardless of demographic. They aren’t necessities but they are thriving. Now we know the necessity of the care and maintenance of black hair is not up for debate, but how can black hair salons obtain a position in the lifestyles of black women like brands from fashion and makeup sectors have?
Hair salons now have to consider how they can accommodate and cater to customer lifestyles. There’s a divide between at home and mobile salons, both with range of advantages and disadvantages depending on how they aim position themselves. With millennials however, a lot of value lies in convenience when it comes to consumption, so offering a combination of the two types of salon within one business may be the best approach to appealing to modern consumers.
And let’s not forget that attention to customer service really shouldn’t be undermined. It’s about showing genuine care and passion for what your business does and going above and beyond to make customers feel good about your brand and business as a package. It’s about taking it to the next level and modernising UK black hair salons.
There’s undoubtedly a lot of potential for black hair salons in the UK. Black hair culture says it all. With the appropriate branding and marketing, the plane is ready to take flight! So we identified three areas of improvement that could develop and modernise salons to appeal to contemporary consumers lifestyles. Improve their presence, engagement and build them as better brands.
There needs to be an experiential incentive to go to black hair salons for women, over them doing their hair themselves or getting a friend to do it. The idea behind D.I.Y hair culture is probably rooted in saving time and money, which means convenience. So black hair salons need to provide a greater appeal than convenience about their business. They need to drive a desire for their business and brand, beyond the service they provide. This may be through either a rational (convenience) or emotional appeal but ideally both.
So features such as group discounts during special occasions/seasons (New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, Birthdays and Bridal Parties), providing childcare or a space that welcomes mothers to the salon. While waiting for an appointment, customers could be given a complimentary pedicure; transforming the whole experience into something more than just hair but a lifestyle that women feel they need to incorporate into their own.
The salon experience shouldn’t begin and end at the door. We can’t talk about modernising without considering what role technology would play. An increase in technology would add to the salon experience by travelling with customers. Think in store features such as virtual reality mirrors to guide customer purchase decisions, to salon apps with interactive games that also encourage customers to pay a visit.
Last but not least, marketing. This is where modernising really should start. Black hair salons do not market themselves enough, they rely on word of mouth (which is a good thing but is also limiting). Reputation needs to be built beyond recommendation. Again, this goes back to pushing a desire for black hair salons beyond getting your hair done and also hair salon businesses having a brand story for themselves that creates a brand ‘vibe’ and communicates their personality for them to better appeal to black women.
Marketing is also an opportunity for black hair salons to have a more creative approach. Hair culture for black people is different to that of white people, and that should be enough reason for salons not to have boring marketing and branding. Salons should take the opportunity to be relevant and present by tapping into consumer insights and turning them into ideas. Image all the way you could appeal to the natural hair ‘wash day’.
Taking on board traditional approaches like loyalty cards, email marketing and reward systems, coupled with creative campaigns and great social media strategy. Black hair salons can only be set up for success.
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