Competition from online retail is one of the biggest challenges salons face

We’ve been running some focus groups at the most recent Professional Beauty shows in London and Manchester to find out what the real challenges and opportunities are for salon owners.

While many of the issues raised were age-old problems – training, regulation, price wars – a lot of the causes were new.

One of the biggest challenges identified was falling retail sales. While treatments are becoming part of a routine for a growing number of women, it seems that handing over a second wad of cash for the accompanying homecare is harder to swallow during recession.

Increased competition from discounted retail sites, particularly online, was cited as the key threat in this area.

Desire among salons for brands to limit their distribution has been an ongoing debate in the industry for as long as I can remember but it seems professionals have been hit particularly hard of late as recession has caused consumers to become increasingly discount driven.

Most of the major brands that started out professional-only have long-since taken their retail lines mass market, as the names became better known and their profit potential too big to ignore.

While there are definite benefits to selling products that consumers now know, love, and ask for by name, salon owners are increasingly feeling the pinch from clients shopping around to get a cheaper price and are looking for more support from suppliers to drive retail sales back to their doors.

Many brands already pledge not to run in-store or online deals unless they are also available to salons and several also run salon-only promotions, taking the hit on profit margin rather than passing it on to the salon. All of this is helping but there is a definite demand among salons for more support and communication. Read more about the issues facing the market in the April issue.

As well as discussing problems, the April issue is all about celebrating successes. The annual Professional Beauty and World Spa & Wellness Awards recognised 23 outstanding businesses and individuals at the end of February. Discover the secrets of their winning ways in the mag, then register your interest for next year’s awards at professionalbeauty.co.uk/awards