You don’t need an entire remodel to improve your salon’s esthetic. Just update your retail merchandising, and you’ll have not only a trendy, pretty physical space but also a reliable revenue generator.
That’s the happy outcome Penzone Salons + Spas in Ohio discovered in preparing to rebrand in 2018. Aiming for fresh ideas and artistry in retail merchandising strategies, Penzone’s aptly named Retail/Service Innovation Team asked for guidance from a local merchandising firm, Alchemy Styled. Four years later, the system they implemented together is running like clockwork, reliably ringing up sales and keeping the salon looking fresh, fashioned, and fabulous.
Time Frame for Display Changes
One concept hasn’t changed in display planning: seasons provide a natural schedule. Salons seasons aren’t necessarily calendar seasons, though. The Penzone team targets April, August, and November to focus on the three big selling seasons of Spring, Back-to-school, and Holiday.
The process begins two months prior to each of those dates. The whole staff gets involved through either a survey to gather ideas and feedback, an in-person event, or both. Then the various teams get to work:
- The Inventory + Warehouse Team curates a collection of products and sources display materials, negotiating wholesale agreements with any new accounts.
- The Training Team sets up sessions to update staff on pertinent product knowledge and technical skills.
- The Marketing Team develops a launch strategy to align in-salon efforts with social media and email communication.
“We’ve found the most success in setting one location as a pilot, with the other five following after one week,” explains Associate Marketing Director Alecia Beardsley. “This week-long gap allows our team to source necessary fixtures, adjust signage, and continue to reinforce internal messaging so the team can knowledgeably speak to the innovations once the set officially launches.”
Recent merchandising themes have included “Trending on TikTok,” “Microbeauty Moments,” and “Summer Essentials.” For economical and sustainability reasons, the team reuses a core set of true-to-brand fixtures, vessels, and frames, repurposing the materials and introducing new products so that each campaign appears fresh.
“For holiday, we layer an extra creative aesthetic,” Beardsley adds. “This bridges the visual experience guests have in the salon with campaign artwork they may see in print, email, or social.”
One goal of merchandising is to introduce new brands or feature products you specifically want to move while your nearby salon shelves hold all of your standard items. The seasonal displays should complement the fixed ones and add new revenue—not compete with or cannibalize your top-sellers.
“Our core offering of hair, skin, nails, and massage remains consistent,” Beardsley says. “Our hero products maintain their intentional positioning on our floors. However, our changing floor sets call attention to what is new in a very shoppable way, encouraging our guests to supplement their tried-and-true beauty routines with trendy products and new brands.”
Penzone sets a goal of the “drop-in” items on the display to account for 5% of all salon and spa monthly sales.
“This amount could be perceived as inconsequential,” Beardsley concedes, “but it’s allowed us to be relevant and to capture additional sales.” The company eclipsed the 5% goal not long ago with a seven-month “Hair Therapy” campaign to “show your hair the love.” Mixing an assortment of new with trusted special-care hair products, the campaign pulled in a monthly average of 12% of retail revenue.
Holiday 2021 provided a perfect test of the methods Penzone had put into place. The team kicked off the campaign early—October 22—with the launch of an Ultimate Guide to Gifting.
“To remain both relevant and competitive during a time when every brand was competing for attention, we launched our holiday campaign before Halloween to give ourselves extra time to convert guests who shop early,” Beardsley recalls. “We curated the guide to make thoughtful gift-giving easy.”
Images of items with various price points accompanied straightforward messaging about giving self-care gifts for the season. Signage and TV screens carried the in-salon messaging to support the digital campaign across social and the salon’s website.
Just three days later, on October 25, the salon staged its Super Early Cyber Sale to continue the momentum and reinforce the message for guests to buy early. Available only online and via the salon’s app, the offer was a $20 e-gift card for every $125 in Penzone gift cards purchased. The e-gift card could be redeemed January 2-March 31. Beardsley reports that this cyber sale made up 11% of the 10-week season’s total gift card revenue and exceeded the prior year’s sales by roughly 16%.
Halloween and Thanksgiving came and went, and then in the first week of December Penzone hosted a Holiday Sip + Shop Event that offered holiday hair styling, a lipstick bar, popup shops brought in by local boutiques, a local simple syrup tasting along with a complimentary custom cocktail, and exclusive early access to the salon’s Merry Merry Bonus Day offer, which was the same bonus gift card offer that the cyber sale had initiated.
“The purpose of this event was to bring our community together and host them in our Salon + Spa,” Beardsley says. “The added bonus was the more than $3,500 we made from ticket sales, retail sales, and gift card sales!”
To wrap up the holiday campaign, Merry Merry Bonus Days ran December 7-11, again offering a $20 bonus with every $125 purchased in gift cards. In high traffic areas, the team added floor decals that encouraged guests to buy for friends and family.
When the total numbers came in, sales for holiday 2021 rang up a 28% increase over the Covid-strapped year of 2020 and a 12% increase over 2019’s pre-Covid numbers.
“Each individual promotion contributed to these campaign totals, making this campaign a huge success,” Beardsley marvels. “We’re looking forward to creating a refreshed, yet similar, campaign in 2022!”
Guiding Light for Guests
Penzone’s focus on retail isn’t new.
“We don’t remember a time when we weren’t consistently updating our retail offering,” says Debra Penzone, President and CEO of Charles Penzone, Inc. She notes that guests have always looked to the Penzone brand as a beacon of all things beauty, and coordinating the thrice-annual schedule makes sure there’s always something fresh on the floor.
“We’ve found this process pushes our innovations forward while also piquing the interests and curiosity of our guests,” Penzone adds. “It helps us introduce products in a way that is strategic and coordinated. We’re thrilled to dedicate space in our salons + spas to be a guiding light, helping our guests improve their lives from the outside in.”
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