May 2009

Retail Matters

Retail Matters | by Gordon Miller


Even with the Upper Hand, Salons Have to Up Their Game

Salons have traditionally “merchandised” products to clients as an extension of the service menu. Whether hair, skin or nail focused, professional products provide clients with a unique value in maintaining and/or extending service results – and are offered in what should be a consultative environment not easily replicated by mass marketers.

Add to that the relationship component of the equation (and the trust clients place in their salon professionals) and salons truly have the upper hand when it comes to competing for the retail sales.

Having said this, the relationship alone will not move products. Salons have to up their game in the area of retail merchandising if they are to translate that unique connection to every client into actual retail sales.

Signs Sell

As consumers walk by or into your salon, research shows you have only three seconds to let them know what they will find inside. In spite of that short window of opportunity, signage (including everything from large window posters to small shelf talkers and everything in between) remains one of the most effective ways to convey information about your retail brands and promotions.

Importantly, the competition for consumer attention has never been greater – and so the need to utilize professionally produced signs, posters and shelf talkers is imperative. Effective signage has the following qualities:

The good news is that with today’s computer and printing options, quality signage doesn’t have to cost a lot. In addition to creating your own signs, high quality (and often customizable) signage is available from many manufacturers and distributors as part of their ongoing marketing support.

Professionally designed signage will provide just the right amount of information as well as the motivation for consumers to enter your salon and try your products.

Service Remains Key

In addition to getting the attention of consumers, a key factor in building successful salon merchandising results is to provide a quality buying experience for the client. Create a high-value process to capitalize on each moment you have with the client – from the time they enter the salon’s reception area extending through every aspect of service delivery and check out – focusing on service excellence to give you the edge in the highly competitive retail arena. Consider the following:

Remember that strong retail sales continue to be a critical area of revenue and profits for leading salons across the country – and that most salons underperform in this area.

It’s more important then ever for salons and salon professionals to reinforce the message that what you provide every client matters – and that retail products and the education you offer clients on how to best select the proper products and how to use them to get the right results is a great value unmatched in the mass retail world.

Special thanks to salon retail and branding consultant Sue Remes Resources (

Gordon Miller is Executive Director of the National Cosmetology Association (NCA), For information on NCA’s Association’s member benefits and programs, go to or call 312-527-6765. For information on NCA’s SalonLife show, August 2-3rd in Chicago, go to or call 888-254-9810.