Salons need to market their strengths: personalised service and therapist expertise

By: Eve Oxberry, editor, Professional Beauty magazine 

With increasing competition from other sectors for both treatment and retail sales, salons and spas are stepping up this year and exploring new business models that reflect these changes while playing on their key strength – personalised service.

New stats revealed in the January issue of Professional Beauty suggest department stores are stealing a march on the treatments market, with more introducing in-store therapies in recent months. Meanwhile rising online sales of professional beauty products are squeezing salons on the retail side.

However, some interesting innovations are helping the market evolve. This month in the magazine we explore the launch of a salon chain that aims to “create theatre” in its physical sites, while driving retail purchases to its own ecommerce site and a partnership that link-sells salon treatments to products bought online.

Smart spas and salons are also focusing on upping their game in the areas where stores struggle to compete: personalised service and therapist expertise, highlighting these skills in the salon as well as online by promoting reviews. So maintaining this competitive edge through therapist education is a concern for many employers, especially with changes to the vocational qualifications system underway.

Bespoke service and training were also high on the agenda for the judges shortlisting the Professional Beauty and World Spa & Wellness Awards. The finalists are now in the midst of the second-round judging stage, which really puts them through their paces via trade tests and mystery shops. The winners will be revealed at the Awards night in London on February 23. For some insight into what makes a successful spa in the meantime, take a look at our Most Inspiring Spas feature in the Jan issue, which profiles 30 more spas that tick your boxes for design, innovation and, of course, outstanding service.