Retail sales are more than a great way to boost revenue-offering products to help your clients maintain their new style is just part of good service. How do you decide what lines best support your salon brand? We asked an award-winning salon owner, a distribution executive and a leading salon industry marketing professional:

What is the best process for evaluating a new retail line?

Mickey Binion

Chief Hair Designer and Owner,
Voce Salon, Lexington, Kentucky

THE DIZZYING VOLUME of new product lines on the market makes choosing one a daunting task. Besides the obvious need for a product to be effective, there are several points to consider in determining if a particular product line is for you.

The right line will reflect your salon and its clientele; it should complement your current offerings and fall in line in terms of cost and target market.

At Voce, we also closely examine product features like fragrance, ingredients and packaging, and consider the product's ease of use. How complex is the application or how much time is involved in using it-is it something a client will use at home?

The best retail product information comes from your stylists and clients, so solicit feedback. Think about how the manufacturer markets the product and how you will market it to your clients. We always try to determine what kinds of education and support we can count on from the manufacturer when we introduce a new line.

For me, the key question is, is it better or is it simply new? If you aren't careful, you can duplicate your current offerings and end up just trading dollars for dollars. More isn't always better. Sometimes it's just more.

Robert Yates

Senior Vice President of Marketing,
John Paul Mitchell Systems

WHEN WE LAUNCH a new product for retail, we focus on the needs of the hairdresser. We ask ourselves if this product is something hairdressers really need in their arsenal of products.

We speak to our top salons and solicit their feedback via our company website and through e-blasts. Our educators are out working in the front lines and, as such, are in a perfect position to determine the expected response from our best salons. We use this input to gauge the demand the product will generate.

Ultimately, reorders give us the measure of a new product's success and future sales potential.

Lastly, we turn to beauty editors to validate a product's worthiness and its position in relation to our competitors.

Perspectives: Evaluating a New Retail Line
Cynthia Heisser

Senior Vice President,
Ultimate Beauty Companies

WHEN I AM EVALUATING a new retail line, there are a few fundamental questions, which must be answered:

• How much support (marketing literature, promotions, education sessions) will we receive from the manufacturer?
• Do I truly believe in the performance and integrity of the brand enough to stake my personal reputation behind it?
• Is there a consistent commitment on behalf of the manufacturer to do whatever it takes to grow the line?

After I meet with the manufacturer, I consider whether the brand fits today's salon culture as well as current and future market trends. For example, we know stylists are more conscientious about organic products and services.

I place a lot of value on doing individual research. Whether it is simply "Googling" the brand's history and reputation, asking for feedback on our UBC Facebook page, or asking existing customers.

We make our product decisions after considering the performance, concept and culture of the brand. Because we value our customers, they value us, and I refuse to give them brands that are not exceptional.

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