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Euromonitor International analyst Virginia Lee attended America’s Beauty Show (ABS) and America’s Expo for Skin Care & Spa held in Chicago from March 28-30, 2009. The co-located shows featured exhibitors from the salon hair care, skin care, spa and nail care markets. The shows hosted industry founders such as Paula Kent Meehan (founder of Redken, the Global Salon Business Awards and the BEST Foundation), Horst Rechelbacher (founder of Aveda and Intelligent Nutrients), Lydia Sarfati (founder of Repêchage) and Jan Arnold (co-founder of CND), as well as leading hair stylists Kim Vo (Bravo’s “Shear Genius”), Nick Arrojo (TLC’s “What Not to Wear” and Orlando Pita (on QVC for T3). Key issues discussed at the show included ways to retain clients in a weak economy, sustainability, and natural and organic products.
Like many other industries across the United States, the salon industry has been impacted by the weakening of the economy. In an interview, ABS CEO Paul Dykstra said that salon clients are going longer between appointments. Clients who used to come into salons every four to five weeks are now coming in every six weeks. Cosmetologists Chicago, owner of ABS, surveyed salon professionals in December 2008 and found that 60% of respondents said their 2008 business was either the same or better than in 2007. However, color services have remained consistent and are sustaining hair salons, according to Dykstra.
A casualty of the recession has been retail sales at spas and salons. Value sales of salon hair care declined by almost 6% to reach US$2.7 billion in 2008, according to Euromonitor International. Fewer salon visits and increased product diversion to mass retail contributed to the sales decline.
Many speakers offered business-building tips during this time of economic turmoil. Sarfati of Repêchage suggested adding a facial bar to expand awareness of spa services and increase retail sales. The facial bar offers mini facial services in the middle of the spa providing a view of spa services often hidden away in a room to consumers. Georgia Sturges, director of education and training with DDF Skincare (acquired by Procter & Gamble in January 2007), suggested offering value propositions that add to existing treatments instead of offering discounts. To maintain loyalty among existing clients, she suggested offering reward programs and series-selling, as well as escapist, evening events.
The show also hosted its second annual Salon Spa Sustainability Summit. Salon sustainability is based on three principles: people (social progress to support and protect ourselves and our communities); planet (active and involved concern for the environment); and profit (continued economic development to sustain our business). Speakers included Rechelbacher, Ted Ning, executive director of LOHAS, Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, Clodagh, internationally known design leader, Max Simon, an authority on stress reduction, self-esteem and life purpose, Mary Bemis, editor-in-chief of Organic Spa magazine, and owners of three eco-conscious spas.