10 ways to target men

Men may represent a huge growth market for salons, but how do you get them through the doors? Eve Oxberry asks the experts

Much has been made of the recent growth in male grooming. The value of the men’s professional treatments market grew a massive 16% in the UK 2013 to £208.4m, according to analyst Kantar. But for the average salon or spa, grabbing a slice of that market is still a challenge. Men might be more clued up about skincare but they are still not confident walking into a salon full of women to ask about it. So how do you get these potential big spenders through your door? At the recent Professional Beauty London show, we held an expert panel session to discuss exactly that. Here, panellists Andy Rouillard, owner of Hampshire men’s waxing salon Axiom Bodyworks; Mark Sproston, who founded wet shave training and product brand The Shave Doctor; Hellen Ward, who runs Richard Ward Hair & Metrospa in London; and Ewa Grigar of market analyst Kline, share their top 10 tips. 


The first step is to get the offer right. The most popular products among men include moisturisers and eye creams. Anti-ageing is also driving growth. Grigar shares stats from a recent Kline consumer panel of 1,500 UK men, which found that 35% use face wash, 27% use facial moisturiser, 23% body lotion and 22% face scrub. “Face and body cleansing and eye treatment are areas men are definitely concerned with, even if they don’t express it openly,” she says. 


“Guys won’t book themselves in for a ‘fleur de jardin aromatherapy facial’ to give them luminescence,” says Rouillard. “They’ll book a facial because they’ve got greasy skin or wrinkles. It’s for a solution, so spell out the benefits.” Ward advocates sampling to prove those benefits to sceptical men. “If you give a man a sample, he’ll come back and say, ‘I want to see that therapist because she knows my skin’. If it worked for him, he’ll buy it. If it’s prescriptive I don’t think price matters.” 


Choice of language is key in making men feel comfortable. “For example, women exfoliate, men scrub,” says Sproston. Grigar agrees, adding, “For women we don’t talk about under-eye bags. Men can stand this kind of terminology better, so we need to be obvious, even humorous.” However, Ward warns against taking the tongue-in-cheek approach too far. “Sadly, there still is the odd man who shuts the treatment room door and expects the towel to slip down. Jokey language can send out the wrong message,” she says. 


If you give the impression you treat men all the time, they’ll feel more confident coming to you. “I speak to a lot of salons that are frustrated about lack of male clients and when you look at the menu, treatments for men are right at the back,” says Sproston. “By segregating those two menus, there’s something real there for the man, so he thinks ‘there must be demand for this; I’m not going to be the only man in there’. A lack of male images on posters in the salon can also put guys off.” 


“If you’ve got a good website with some frequently asked questions it’s going to take away the fear for male clients,” says Rouillard. “Just very simple things like, what should I wear? Does it hurt? Do I need to shave beforehand? Should I leave my pants on? Because if men haven’t been to a salon before they don’t know. We don’t want the embarrassment of picking up the phone and saying, ‘sorry if this is a stupid question but...’ And it has the added benefit of making you sound like an expert who is used to working with male clients.” 


“I work within a barber shop and was finding male clients wanted their nostril hairs and brows tidied,” says Rouillard, “but getting them from that barber’s chair to a treatment couch downstairs was hard. Take the wax pot upstairs on to the shop floor, however, and they see it as something they can get done by a hairdresser they know and trust, in a masculine environment.” Ward agrees that winning men over in the first place is the hard bit. “For us the route is through their hair,” she says. “Once they buy into the fact it’s fine to have their greys done, gradually we can get them into the treatment room to be waxed or to have a look at their skin.”


Getting men to try new things is also the key to converting them from an occasional visitor to a high-spending regular. Sproston suggests adding value to a treatment they are already familiar with. “You can start incorporating Indian head massage or shoulder massage into a wet shave and call it a signature shave,” he says. Rouillard says he is often asked about the benefits of loyalty schemes for men. “Don’t give them their tenth wax free. Why give away something they would pay for? Instead, offer them something they’ve never tried.” 


Salons that don’t have an existing male client base should start with the women, says Ward. “Your clients have all got boyfriends or husbands, who should be your first port of call as a male client base,” she says. Sproston agrees, suggesting, “Offer a voucher for a wet shave or facial to entice the men in, because nine times out of ten he won’t be buying it, she will. Where you market it is also key, so have something she can pick up in reception or while she’s waiting for her nails to dry.” 


“Guys Google,” says Rouillard. “Most of my clients come to me through internet searches. Men don’t wander up and down the high street looking for beauty treatments. We may be introduced through our hairdresser, but we don’t go down the pub and talk to our mates about our pubic topiary either. Word of mouth is not as good a marketing tool as for female clients.” Grigar agrees, suggesting an online booking facility becomes even more important when trying to attract male clients, “because it’s more discreet”. 


“Think about who wants your massage or wax,” says Rouillard. “For waxing I might start with the sporting community then break it down further to target cyclists because it reduces road rash, makes it more comfortable on the bike or when he’s taking the lycra off. So I’m not just going to knock on every door. I’ll go to go to my local gym, find out if there’s a local cycling club and where they meet, if they’ve got a website, where they buy those lycra shorts from, and that’s where I’ll do my marketing. But it’s about selling very specific benefits.” PB