It’s an industry rooted in physical touch and personal service, so how the beauty industry will reopen will be more complex than most. How can businesses prepare for an uncertain future? While hair salons prepare to reopen on the 4th July, businesses such as nail salons and beauty parlours await the green light with frustration — follow the #WhyCan’tIWork hashtag to stay informed.
We’ve asked a handful of experts, on what brands can expect from the beauty industry, post-lockdown. Below, we have insights from Giorgia Rossi, COO of Treatwell and Nicola Kilner, CEO of DECIEM, as well as advice from brands planning to reopen in the UK, including successful salons Duck & Dry and Shoreditch Nails.
Rethink the layout of your space.
After 4th July, social distancing will be reduced to ‘at least one metre’, so it will be crucial for businesses to adhere to this measure. Currently implementing a plan across 34 shops, Nicola told us about the measures beauty brand DECIEM will be introducing: “Our stores are traditionally pared back, but we’ll be removing even more furniture and implementing sneeze shields at the POS when we reopen. The store will be marked with social distance guidelines, and there will be stations to sanitise your hands.” If you’re an independent business with limited resources, you can work with what you already have. Take neighbourhood salon Shoreditch Nails who work from a tiny studio, but will be reducing their number of nail artists to observe social distancing.
Be ready for emerging trends.
Observing other markets is key when trying to predict the future of an industry. Currently working with over 23,000 salons across Europe, Giorgia has seen demand go through the roof in reopening markets. “When the Dutch Prime Minister announced salons could reopen, we had a surge of 4500% in bookings,” she revealed, “and we’ve seen this across all countries. A bunch of our French salons decided to open at 5 am and were fully booked until 8 pm.” This trend won’t last forever, but a high level of demand is worth preparing for.
Giorgia also gave us insight on new customer behaviours she’d observed in post-lockdown: “People are getting 10% more treatments done in the same appointment, which is really intuitive because it means they can spend less time travelling. It also used to be that 30% of our appointments were booked last minute, but now the majority are booked more than two days in advance. We‘ve seen so many brands embrace an appointment model: simply because it helps them you run your business in an optimised way.”
Clean, clean, clean.
Things like cashless transactions, no-touch dispensers and PPE are implemented as the bare minimum, but there’s much more that businesses can do to put their customers at ease. As Giorgia says to her Treatwell clients: “You want people to feel like they can almost smell the cleanliness.” When planning your new cleaning schedule, you will need to consider your space and all the things that will likely be touched during each appointment. Brands like Duck & Dry are setting the standard by sanitising everything between each hair appointment, including tools, seats and products.
However, some brands may wish to eliminate contact altogether. For cosmetic brands who use their space to sell product, a ‘click & collect’ model may be the key to success. Or, for salons that are yet to reopen, consider how you can allow your customers to safely recreate your experience themselves. Soho House’s COWSHED is a great example of this. From products to spa robes, customers can create their own no-contact spa experience from home.
New hygiene standards have brought to light many outdated aspects of the beauty industry, tester pots being one of them. But how can customers test out certain products before buying? To tackle this issue, Nicola has just removed all testers from DECIEM stores. “We instead will encourage our audience to learn from the team,” she said, “They’re expertly trained in talking through the product formulations, feel, and texture.” She also recommended an extended returns policy — DECIEM offers 365 days — to encourage customers to test out products. Giorgia suggested an alternative: “Perhaps brands should consider preparing samples so customers can try out their next favourite product, safely.”
Communicate with your customers.
You can have the cleanest salon on the street, but how do inspire your customers to return to your space? “Every brand is facing a comms challenge right now, but we’ve managed to distil it into three key messages,” advised Giorgia, “Firstly, absolute clarity of when and where you will reopen. Then, you’ll want to outline the safety benefits of prebooking, and you can tell them about all the safety measures you have in place. This should be pushed across all channels.” Social media is the most effective and democratic way to get the word out, a tool often used by Shoreditch Nails to engage with their local community: “We are planning to send out a newsletter and update everyone on Instagram with all the new “rules”. We want to make sure everyone knows about the measures we’re putting in place.”
Let your brand’s personality shine through.
Although hygiene measures must strictly be followed, an overly clinical environment can be unsettling. Therefore, it’s important to continue to communicate your brand’s unique personality, it will be paramount to your customers’ enjoyment. For London blow-dry bar Duck & Dry, their relaxed party vibe has been their USP since they first opened, so Brand Manager Fatima Omar knew that it was crucial to continue this safely: “Many of our clients have been coming to us for years, so we want to keep a level of normality for them. The plan is to have relaxing music in the morning and party vibes in the afternoon! Refreshments will still be served, but in disposable cups.” Think about how you can maintain the unique atmosphere of your space, whilst maintaining social distancing.