When it comes to your colour business, who is your competition?

I present a seminar called ‘Grow My Colour Business’ it’s aimed at salon owners and hairdressers that have a passion for colour. And I ask the audience that question at the beginning. “Who is your colour competition?”

Typically the answers will be about the other salons in the area, and the ‘box colour – do it yourself’ market. And while those observations might be correct, I think that most hairdressers are blind to the way that the internet has become a huge disruptor in every industry, …and the hair colour market is no different.

Slowly but surely the internet has become another player in the hair colour market and is taking business away from salons.

The response from hairdressers is usually a smug comment ‘that the clients that use box colour, ‘in what ever form it takes’ will be in their chair next week getting the disaster fixed.

But here’s the thing. ‘They won’t be!’ Most of them are very happy with the results! Think about it for a moment. The home colour market is much bigger than the professional side of the industry, and growing faster. More clients colour their hair at home than get it done in the salon.

So if the assumption that home hair colour clients will all be in the salon next week getting it fixed was true, then salons would be overwhelmed with fixing up disasters from home colour. And the reality is they are not. You might do 2-3 a week if you’re lucky. Most of them are perfectly happy with the colour result they achieve at home.

You believe that those box colour products, that incidentally come from many of the same big multinationals that supply most of the salon industry with professional products, are somehow inferior to what you access as a professional.

I am sure there is a difference, but don’t think for one minute that they are inferior… Just think about it. Why would those huge multinationals like L’Oreal, Wella, Revlon, and Schwarzkopf etc sell products to consumers that were ‘not fit for purpose’.

There is nothing wrong with those products! In fact, they usually use most of the same technology and ingredients as their professional brands. They often come out of the same factories. They have access to the same research and development. And in many ways the success of their retail brands allows them to reinvest into developing the professional brands. And that’s a good thing for the professional hairdresser.

Don’t misinterpret what I am saying, I accept that there is a difference in what’s in the tube. After all we have always told that there is. But the real difference, is in the hands of the person holding the tube.

Is it a hairdresser? Someone like you who has invested a lot of money and time in their education. Someone who has spent years learning about hair colour and the correct application techniques. Someone who has been trained in how to formulate and deal with all the problems that might be put in front of them.

Or, is it a non hairdresser, someone who probably just chose the colour based on the picture on the box and just reads the instructions on the back of the box and applies it them-self?

Those are the two clear distinctions that as an industry we are used to. But if a client came into your salon and wanted a colour consultation from you. And then wanted to purchase a colour that you have formulated for them, and then wanted you to teach them how to apply it… would you do that?

Well it doesn’t really matter whether you would do it, or not. But as a hairdresser that is the world you now live in.

What you have always thought was a professional advantage for in-salon hair colour is being eroded everyday by new players in the market, brands like e-Salon, Madison Reed and now the latest entry into the market ColorandCo by LOreal.

They are all internet based companies, where you have an online consultation via video chat with a professional hair colourist who prescribes exactly what you should have. They have amazing interactive state of the art websites, with videos that show you step by step how to apply the colour and lots of great testimonials.

Then you will be sent a personalised ‘colour box’ with custom instructions, and all the tools you need, to get what they describe as ‘salon quality results’ and a money back guarantee all for about $25.

At this point in time some of them are only available in the US, others are also in the UK and Europe. But no matter where you live – ‘It’s coming your way.’

I’m not even saying this is a bad thing, I’ll leave that up to you to reflect on that.

But, it is the reality of what is happening in the industry, it’s the disruption that the internet is having on hairdressing.

A lot of hairdressers will be outraged by this. Just like a lot of Taxi drivers are outraged by Uber or a lot of Hoteliers are outraged by AirB&B and a lot of music store owners were outraged by Spotify, and retailers everywhere are outraged by Amazon etc

Technology changes the game, it always has, and it always will.

Most of the big multinational are not answerable or loyal to you the hairdresser. Their first loyalty is to their shareholders because those shareholders have to get a return on their investment, and when they see another channel to market for their product they will take it.

So as a hairdresser what can you take from this, how can you compete? Because it’s important that you don’t see this as all doom and gloom, but rather to look for the opportunities to create a point of difference that only you can offer.

So here are my 5 recommendations…

  1. You should visit their websites and Then you can see where your competition is coming from. In fact I’d even go through the whole process and order the colour so you can experience exactly what the clients experience. Because it’s pretty good!
  2. No one owes you anything – So support the brands that support you.
  3. Treat it as a wake up call. This a reminder that the only real advantage that you have, that the internet can never take away from you, is the experience that you the hairdresser can offer. Colouring your hair at home isn’t a pleasant experience! So you have to make sure that you always deliver an in-salon experience that stands head and shoulders above what the client can achieve at home.
  4. Remember, that you are a professional, you have invested an enormous amount of time and money into your training so that gives you the ability to deliver a standard of work that is always a reflection of that level of expertise.
  5. And finally. You have to keep learning. Your education never stops. So look for the opportunities, look for your point of difference and emphasise it in everything you do.

Thank you for watching…

Any feedback and comments are always welcome.

Have a great week!

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