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The tactic of offering a buyer the chance to experience and try a product before purchasing it has been a foundation of marketing for decades, quite simply because it works. Sampling methodologies can vary, however, and your choice can depend on your brand philosophy and position. Bumble & bumble has a basic sampling methodology for viscous creams only, that is, shampoos and conditioners, using foil packets. The company relies on the stylists then to get the product into the hands of the consumer. “Because we are a direct distributor to salon, owners purchase the product and get it into the hands of stylists who promote to consumers,” said Dina Rosenbloom, director of marketing. “Our baseline philosophy is ‘sample with purchase,’ encouraging stylists to provide clients with an item complementary to a purchased product.” In Bb.U business courses, salon owners are taught how to best maximize the potential of samples. Because Bumble and bumble is a prestige brand, prices are higher, so there are trial sizes available to entice salon customers to buy and try the product as well.
It’s no surprise that packaging is vital in today’s retail environment, even in-salon. A well-planned package speaks for itself, and a visually appealing package will pique salon owner interest because it is more likely to sell. Joico is well aware of the packaging advantage and is revitalizing its look for a March 2006 re-launch to “ignite the passion of stylists.” Sleek, streamlined and chic, the new packaging combines sensuous form and ergonomic function, featuring clean lines and a modern, angular shape and pearlized tones to evoke an artistic sensibility. The colors and shapes are designed to invite customers to pick them up and “never let go.” In addition, a bold Joico logo and clearly identifiable categories help meet consumers’ hair needs.
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“It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” Partnerships with distributor stores and national accounts including Regis, Ulta and Fantastic Sams accounts, and partnering with industry organizations such as the Salon Association, the National Cosmetology Association; Cosmetologists Chicago, the Premiere Show and others allow manufacturers to generate excitement among extremely dedicated and passionate stylists from around the world.
Salon owners increasingly are conscious that the products they stock should reflect their values and convictions. Bumble and bumble, for example, supports like-minded charities not only for brand recognition, but because the manufacturer wants to support their efforts. “Bb. is very involved in neighborhood groups such as the Meat Packing District Association, Friends of the Highline, and also national charities that share our vision,” explained MacKenzie Lewis, assistant manager of public relations. This includes a range of organizations from breast cancer research to hurricane Katrina funds—all causes that affect the company on a more personal level because an employee or someone in the network is involved in one way or another. Involvement can come in many forms, from gift donations, complementary services, and being at meetings and participating in events. Salon owners looking to share a vision will find value in a sincere brand that can bring credibility to their identity.
For example, Kérastase, L’Oréal’s luxury hair care treatment line from France, chose eight key salons in the United States to join them in their alliance with Dress for Success. Dress for Success clients in these salons are treated to makeovers at various locations during special events. In addition, clients at the salon who donate gently used suits to the organization receive a free Kérastase product.
Aligning your company with an event, whether for charity, celebrities or sport, also aligns your company with like-minded salon owners. John Paul Mitchell Systems is top sponsor of the Jeep King of the Mountain (JKOM) Series, featuring downhill racing on bike, ski and snowboard. The series boasts an impressive line-up of elite athletes from around the world who compete for bragging rights with the black Paul Mitchell leader jersey at each competition. At the end of the series the two competitors with the most points receive a $5,000 bonus check courtesy of John Paul Mitchell Systems in addition to a two-year lease on a brand new Jeep Wrangler. The sponsorship positions the brand well for salon owners aiming to reach a male or sport-minded audience.
6. Trade Shows
Whether it’s an intimate setting with a specific niche or an expansive exhibit hall filled with tens of thousands of salon owners and stylists, trade shows are a great opportunity for beauty professionals to see, touch, smell and purchase your products. “Partnering with distributors at hair, skin and nail shows allows brands the opportunity to present new products and promotional programs not found anywhere else in the industry,” said Patrick O’Keefe, director of communications, Joico. According to a survey conducted by the Chicago Midwest Beauty Show, more than 75% of attendees say that buying products is the number-one reason for attending the show. Another 65% are there simply to evaluate what’s new. The companies sponsoring the shows organize targeted marketing campaigns to draw in key buyers from around the country, and they often offer on-site promotional opportunities, such as sponsorships, stage demonstrations and presentations, award shows, coupons, advertisements and multimedia displays, and samples to get your brand into the hands of attendees.
7. Online Media
A company’s online presence is one of the most important components in its overall marketing strategy today. Making the most of it will allow you to succeed in a competitive online world. “What Web sites have done is help build a community, where stylists can go and network with other stylists,” explained O’Keefe.
Joico utilizes leading trade Web sites, such as www.behindthechair.com (BTC), which gets more than 300,000 unique visitors a month, to obtain sampling opportunities along with strong lead support. Online inquiries are supported with in-salon visits, where sales can be targeted to the owners’ specific requests or interests. In addition, trade e-mail campaigns through BTC have allowed Joico to educate and generate brand awareness. The e-mail strategy focuses on thank yous, up selling, education and technique. “Our goal is to provide stylists with tools with which they can better serve their clients,” said O’Keefe.
Joico’s own Web site is a tool for stylists as well. It will be updated in March with opportunities for salons to customize pre-made advertising online, which can then be sent to a printer for use in local newspapers. Owners also can order posters or print out shelf talkers to speak to clients about a specific brand or product.
8. Multimedia Materials
Inspirational multi-media materials, focusing on the owner and the stylist, are a unique way to educate salon owners, while also promoting the brand. All of Bumble and bumble’s marketing materials integrate the brand’s education philosophies and teachings, according to Rosenbloom. Bumble and bumble sends to owners in its network a biannual Bb.U Business Review magazine, as well as a Hair Stories magazine and DVD, to share the principles taught in the Business School program Immersions. It is at the core of all of Bumble and bumble marketing efforts, “even at a consumer level, because the looks that we present are the same looks that we teach at Bb.U,” explained Rosenbloom. Business Review assembles a variety of articles and Q&As pertinent to the business to inspire owners in the craft, culture and commerce of hairdressing. Hair Stories focuses on style, including how-tos and before-and-afters.
Traditional print advertising in trade magazines that target the salon provide a target audience of readers, too. American Salon, Modern Salon, Launchpad, Esthetica, Salon Today, HairColor & Design, and Process magazines all provide a variety of opportunities to establish a brand.
Education is integral to the adoption of brands at the salon. Manufacturers are very involved with training field support, guest artists and advisors who help to support the brand around the globe. And offering advanced educational opportunities for stylists is key for many manufacturers because education is invaluable to stylists who must stay on top of trends. “Ingredients change. Technology changes. And the science behind the products and techniques for styling and finishing changes, effecting the way hair responds,” said O’Keefe. “Stylists must know this when working with clients.”
Manufacturers often rely on the stylists and salons to move product and reward high sales with education. For example, Joico has a loyalty program with salon owners and stylists. “A point is earned for every dollar spent,” explained O’Keefe. Points can be redeemed for anything from in-salon education to trips to the Artistic Institute, owned and operated by Zotos International, as well as back bar purchases, accessories or salon furnishings.
10. Marketing Stories
Highly targeted marketing efforts can uniquely pique the interest of salon owners. Stories behind new brand introductions often are conceived at the editorial stylist level. “All of our styling products come out of the editorial world and all have some background need based on what is happening next in culture and fashion,” said Rosenbloom. In September 2005, Bb. sent promotional packages to salon owners for Sumowax. The hard wax for modern cuts offers “plenty of discipline for heavyweights, but not overwhelming for finer types.” The kits included merchandising ideas, a set of buttons, and a double-sided POP display to help create buzz for the product using the oldest of Japan’s martial arts: Japanese sumo wrestling. One of the highlights is an accordion insert illustrated by Peter Arkle. Additional information was available online, such as a facilitator guide for educating the entire staff.