How to predict and analyse your salon clients' buying habits

As we all adjust to the new normal, it’s hard to know which changes in client behaviour will be permanent, so it’s time to embrace change and seek feedback, advises Hellen Ward

Without getting too spiritual, one can’t really ignore the rules of the universe. The 12 universal laws are:

  1. Divine oneness (everything is connected)
  2. Vibration (everything has a vibrational frequency)
  3. Attraction (what is like unto itself is drawn)
  4. Correspondence (as above, so below)
  5. Action (manifestation requires aligned action)
  6. Cause and effect (every action has a consequence)
  7. Compensation (we are rewarded for right action)
  8. Perpetual energy (everything is always moving and changing)
  9. Relativity (it’s all relative)
  10. Polarity (there are two sides to everything)
  11. Rhythm (nothing is permanent)
  12. Gender (manifestation requires a balance of energies).

As you get older (and potentially wiser!) you begin to realise just how indisputable these laws are.  So how can we apply these wise, ancient learnings to our businesses?

A very successful investor friend recently told me how he’d completely reworked some of his business models through the crisis and his mindset seemed to echo the 12 laws. “Never waste a crisis,” he said. “Don’t worry about what you can’t directly effect”.  Common sense to some, but “how do you apply that commercially?”, I asked. “It’s about agility, pragmatism, flexibility and passion. One thing is certain, it will never again be business as usual,” came the reply. His message is clear – businesses that will not just survive but flourish will have to embrace those principals, to accept the universal laws. We can’t change Covid or how the world has become as a result, but every problem creates an opportunity, and the smart business person never wastes the opportunity to look at the result of a crisis.

Hellen Ward

Hellen Ward

Stay adaptable

I wrote back at the start of the pandemic that fluid thinking and the ability to be willing to adapt and change would be critical to survive. What I didn’t know then was that I would be applying that mindset even more 18 months later. Or just how relevant the “adapt or die” motto would become. Salons have had to adapt, clients have had to adapt, staff have had to adapt, landlords have had to adapt, and now what is clear is that the way our sector is treated and the taxation that applies to it has to adapt, too – and fast.

At the time of writing, I think it’s fair to say the whole industry feels like it’s been thrown under a bus. It seems to be feast or famine. We open to stampedes but once everyone has been “done” the tumbleweed starts blowing again. Maybe it’s time to start looking at our offerings and realise that the way things used to be simply don’t apply any more.

The effect of working from home, coupled with Covid angst, has seen lots of previously loyal customers resolutely stay away from close contact services. People have grown their hair longer, grown their colour out, stopped doing their nails, realised they don’t need some of the services and treatments they used to categorise as essential, and embraced their lockdown life, turning it into their new normal. Whether this is a permanent shift remains to be seen. But even if 10-30% of your clients are reacting in this way, the financial implications can be catastrophic.

Finding balance

One could argue that the very people who were so horrified at the start of lockdown have actually decided they quite like life how it is post-Covid. Working from home (if not furloughed), the rise in having pets, the savings in stamp duty that have fuelled the housing market and the resulting getaway to the country for the non-existent commute, the tracky-bottoms or yoga pants to work… life is easier, more relaxed for some people. Less stressed, more quality. Of course, none of these behavioural changes are good for any cyclical, experience business which is used to being hands-on and customer-centric. As salon owners, we need bums-on-seats, end of.

So how do we “never waste a crisis?” Client behaviours have changed and may not change back. The salon customer of 2021 is a different animal to the one we knew inside-out and could market effectively to before.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that for any successful marketing strategy, sometimes you have to do a bit of reverse engineering. So, maybe asking your customers what they want from you in this post-Covid world and adapting your offering and services to suit is the key. There is, however, the Steve Jobs attitude of “people don’t know what they want until you give it to them” but if you temper this with a genuine desire to find out how habits, mindsets and demand are different, it’s a good place to start.

We’ve been asking people that very question. What do you really want from us, and how can we give it to you? It seems a prudent exercise to carry out over these quiet summer months. I’ll keep you posted.

Hellen Ward is managing director of Richard Ward Hair & Metrospa in Lonodn and a beauty ambassdor for the National Hair & Beauty Federation (NHBF)