"Attractive displays that send a strong message are inviting and enticing for your clients,"--Carmen DePasquale
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"Attractive displays that send a strong message are inviting and enticing for your clients,"--Carmen DePasquale

When it comes to designing merchandising materials for his upscale hair care line Ecru New York or directing product displays for his 27,000-square-foot salon and spa team in Morris Plains, New Jersey, Carmen DePasquale has his eye on retail trends, both inside and out of the industry. 

“We’ve always had a philosophy of bringing the retail industry’s secrets into the salon space,” he says. “We follow retail trends very closely and in our own salon, we execute how the trends will translate in the professional space.”

The retail industry has taken some dramatic turns lately, and the rise in e-commerce has traditional brick–and-mortar stores scrambling to get more traffic into their stores, and getting those shoppers to pay attention to what they are selling. In today’s world, salons have a big advantage over those retailers as traffic already is flowing through their doors in the form of clients who are a captive audience while they are getting their services done.  

“Clients come in to look and feel better, and it’s the job of salons and spas to deliver an ultimate experience,” DePasquale says. “When a client feels great about herself—whether it’s her gorgeous waves, her bright new highlights or her renewed skin—she’s in the mood to go shopping. Too often we let that client walk right out the door and use all that feel-good energy to shop elsewhere.”

Ecru New York teaches its salon customers to continually face those clients with small product messages. The most successful way of doing that is suggesting a beauty problem, and showing how the salon has the solution.

Carmen DePasquale, founder and CEO of Ecru New York
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Carmen DePasquale, founder and CEO of Ecru New York

“The focus tables and retail shelves should always tell a story—whether it’s about how to prevent damage in the summer to how to control those unruly locks. You need to give them a reason to pick up a product—so group three products together and talk about how they work together to defeat frizz,” DePasquale recommends. “A good manufacturer will help you do that, and your product story should be different every time a client comes in.”

Of course the product story should also be told when the client is in the chair. DePasquale says having their stylists detail what they use on the client’s hair and what benefit it offers is part of the ‘“Client’s Right to Know,” and the service provider should be educating guests as opposed to selling to them. 

“But you can’t rely on that message coming only from the stylist, your displays need to communicate and, in our salon, so do the TV screens,” DePasquale says. “Instead of putting on The View our TVs are constantly educating the client about the products we carry.”

Owners should seriously consider bringing on a retail coordinator to build the displays that spin those stories. 

“You wouldn’t open a salon without having a stylist or a colorist, so you can’t expect to really make money on retail unless you are bringing in someone with expertise who is responsible for it,” he continues. “You don’t have to start with someone full-time, get someone to come in on Saturdays.

Your artists are worried about their clients, they aren’t going to worry if your shelves are dusty or you’ve run out of marketing materials.”

Of course, there will always be clients who choose to go home and mull over the products they saw and heard about in your salon, and having an e-commerce option gives salons a fighting chance to maintain that sale. 

“The internet isn’t going away, so salons need to find a way to participate in e-commerce,” he says. “Our people suggest and offer products in the salon, but they also show how clients can buy it from us online,” DePasquale says. “SalonInteractive makes it easy for salons, because they’ve taken the packing and shipping issues away, but salons can still retain those e-commerce sales.”

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