This opens up a huge challenge for salon owners and their teams that create "marketing" campaigns to get more guests, and get more business from current guests. How much do we really know about salon guests, their demographic profiles and what they think about their salon experiences?

Here's a fact. By next year, the Gen Y group (also know as Millennials) will be our largest population group. That's right, bigger than the Baby Boomers. The implications are staggering for salon owners trying to plan how to communicate to and market to salon guests. We decided to find out more about how these demographic shifts would impact a salon's way of doing business. Early this year, we began an ambitious research project for the professional beauty industry. 


At a client conference last year in the Dominican Republic, one of the workshop sessions focused on the Gen Y universe with regard to how to hire, train and grow them as employees in the beauty business. The crux of the workshop message is that this new generation, the first to mature in the digital age, is different than the Gen X and Boomer generations.


And that's when it hit us. No one is looking at the Gen Y group as salon clients, guests or customers. Our initial strategy was to conduct a Gen Y survey and that idea lasted for a couple of nanoseconds until we realized that the first questions we would be asked would be, "How do the Gen Y guests differ from the Gen X and Boomer populations that we are used to serving?" Anecdotally, most salons know the difference and there are multiple studies discussing Gen Y buying habits and patterns. What we wanted to find out is whether all the general knowledge applies to the beauty business.


The results of this survey are what we call SILVER BULLETS that will help owners prepare for the future. This is proactive marketing. The results will help the salons better develop business strategies adaptive to the Gen Y cohort while protecting the investment in their Gen X and Boomer clients.


Use your marketing silver bullets to help you shift resources toward higher quality results. 


From the research, we'll give you a tantalizing example. You all know that social media is the hot marketing topic. Every blog promoted creating a Facebook page, and salons were no different from most other businesses in setting these up. Because we are told everyone is really into Facebook, no doubt every salon guest would be giddy about her salon's Facebook page.


Here's an early look at the question, "Does your salon actively use social media?" (Consider both Facebook and Twitter.) In all three generations, more than 70 percent said they didn't know if their salon had a Facebook page, and more than 80 percent said they didn't know if their salon had a Twitter account. Additionally, in all three generations, the second highest response was "Yes, but I don't pay attention." What?! They don't pay attention? We thought that having a Facebook page would revolutionize a salon's marketing. Maybe this research is indicating that either social media is not a driving force in the beauty business or we are doing something wrong in applying it. 


There is no doubt that the consumer is changing and we did find some significant differences between generations that will impact salon marketing. These differences will have an impact throughout the organization.


This research project is more than just proactive marketing. It sets the stage to put marketing in the center of your business, and we offer these four insights at this mid-year review:


Recognize the changing nature of the market and its impact on your organization. this requires pragmatic vision to see what is happening in the external environment and how it is likely to impact your salon.


Know that marketing plays a central role in corporate citizenship. This is where champions are born, so seize every opportunity to support the business.


Adapt to the changes that surface. You may have to scrap some existing plans and programs. Once you accept the need to act, everything should be re-evaluated. That's why we encourage our clients to write their plans in pencil, be nimble and agile.


Spread the word throughout your salon and help them understand the implication of these shifts. Then get everyone involved because involvement leads to buy-in. 


We will be presenting our research findings on Sunday, July 18th at the Professional Beauty Association's annual Symposium. We see it as an opportunity to introduce our own strategic silver bullets and help salons and manufacturers be ready for the invasion of Gen Y.



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