Why is a salons positioning going to be even more critical in the near future? Because every aspect of how, where, when and even why some people go to a salon is about to change for consumers, and this will have a major impact on our industry.
Retail and service is on the precipice of a historic reinvention that will leave the beauty salon barely recognizable in comparison to the way its perceived today. For some, the core economic model is going to be shape-shifted beyond recognition and the very concept of what a salon is and what it does, is going to be rewritten.
Salon technology as we know it today will look primitive in the near future. When we describe to our grandchildren how we used to sit by the light of our computers, clicking on two-dimensional pictures, entering our payment information and then waiting for a petroleum-powered delivery truck to arrive, they will pity us and marvel how we ever survived.
Positioning of a business and a brand is going to be the key initiative in any new business model.
It is an illusion that we alone determine what we choose. You walk into a restaurant and order a sandwich. Your spouse asks which movie you like to see? Your doctor asks if you would like to try a new drug to control cholesterol? You search for a flight home for the holidays. You may not realize it, but in each choice, you have a hidden partner.
You choose something but the restaurant, your spouse, the doctor, the airline’s website all make decisions about how to pose those choices to you. Their design decisions will influence, intentionally or not, what you choose.
We may vaguely agree that external factors influence our choices, but we don’t always appreciate there are large and systematic ways in which presentation can change what we choose. We make different choices if our doctor says “serious side effects occur in 1 percent of cases,” as opposed to saying “there are no side effects in 99 percent of cases.”
All the details are part of something called choice architecture, the many aspects of how a choice is posed can be manipulated intentionally or inadvertently, to influence the decisions we make.
Before you make a decision, someone has molded many of the characteristics of that choice for you, and these design decisions will affect what you choose.
Think about a choice you made recently. Which breakfast cereal to buy, movie to see, or place to have dinner. Why did you make that choice? Why did you pick the particular option you ended up choosing? While various idiosyncratic reasons may come to mind, in general they all point to the same direction: you. Your personal tastes and preferences. Your likes and dislikes.
The notion that our choices are driven by our own personal thoughts and opinions seems obvious. Except that it’s wrong. Without realizing it, others have a huge influence on almost every aspect of our lives. People eat more when others are eating, buy a new car because their neighbor or friend have recently done the same. Visit a salon because they have been recommended.
Choice architecture has a lot to do with actual architecture. Winston Churchill knew this, saying, “we shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.” It’s exactly the same in salon design. The power of effective design, affects both employees and consumers. The location of the salon retail area and the position of the best-selling merchandise influences choices consumers make.
For example, a good retail store by definition, is one that exposes the greatest number of products to the greatest number of consumers for the longest period of time. The design strategically places its merchandise in a consumer’s walking path and field of vision in a manner that invites consideration. That’s the power of positioning in the form of environmental psychology which examines the interrelationship between environments and human behavior.
One must have a model of human nature that predicts the environmental conditions under which humans will most buy. With such a model one can design and predict what the likely outcome will be and diagnose solutions for maximizing retailing opportunities. That is the benefit of positioning. Selling of hair products used to be only from the salon retail area. Now and in the future, it is from the styling chair via smart mirrors, salon websites via augmented reality and an artificial intelligent concierge, as well as digital content in the retail area.
The principles and practices of anthropology should be applied to salon retail spaces. Retail anthropology maps the most arcane patterns of consumer behavior. Which shelving position seems the most alluring; what kind of overhead lighting and music is conducive to purchasing; what digital signs lure shoppers into the most lucrative parts of the retail area? This positions the space as a business within a business with a separate retail strategy and creates a buying environment.
The consumer never enters a salon and stops at the doorway. The instant they enter they subliminally make adjustments, set their pace and adjust their eyes to changes in light and scale. Their ear, nose and nerve endings will sort out the rest of the stimuli by analyzing sounds and smells and judging whether the location is warm or cold.
Because of social media, magazines and television, salons have to appeal to both the conscious and sub-conscious minds of the consumer, because 95% of all cognition occurs below awareness in the shadows of the mind. Only 5% occurs within the individual’s conscious awareness. That’s the power of positioning. Our social network influence affects the products we buy and that personifies the epitome of positioning.
Today’s consumer now has a myriad of choices. If we don’t adapt to the shifts in consumer attention span, we will be wasting our time and energy. There are many salons who waste money in marketing every day because they’re chasing what ‘used’ to work. But the reality is, the tactic that used to work yesterday will put you out of business today.
What if the problem wasn’t the brand? What if the problem was the way we positioned the brand? The key is to create compelling content that works both online and in the salon. It gives you a nucleus upon which to scale and position your business. It positions your salon with a strategic competitive advantage.
The world and people have changed and because of the amount of content we are exposed to each day, consumer attention span is now about three seconds. Learning how to capture attention successfully is the primary skill that will most attribute to success today and in the future.
The most powerful tool we can use to capture attention is a great story. When we define the elements of a story as it relates to the salon, we create a map consumers can follow to engage our services. A great story is atomic, it is perpetual, has power and is the one thing that can hold a human being’s attention.
Our mindsets determine the way we see the world, as well as the way we behave and who we are as people. We can intentionally cultivate a growth mindset that allows us to stretch our minds and amplify the realm of possibilities of what we do, and who we are. Amplifying our mindsets is one of the secrets of success, for salon owners and service professionals.
We all have access to everything we need to achieve anything we want, when we know where and how to look, and it doesn’t require years of study. As a result, we start to change. We see the world in a positive way, filled with opportunities, choices, paths and answers. In essence, positioning is not what you do to a product or brand, it is what you do to the mind of the consumer.