Retail

Cosmetics Retailing 101

Afraid of offering makeup in your salon because you aren’t sure how to sell it? Think it’s hard enough selling nail polish to your clients, let along trying to sell them lipstick and eye shadow as well? Think again. There’s more than one strategy to add to your current retail offerings – and your pocket.

If you’re looking for a way to boost your income and kick start a retail program, you might want to give cosmetics a try.

Simply put, it makes sense to offer color cosmetics on your retail palette. After all, makeup is often an impulse item. It’s not unusual for women to go into a department store looking to buy one thins and ending up with something unexpected – like a new lipstick or blush – just because that gift with purchase was too hard to resist.

Enticing your nail clients to walk away with a bottle of polish and a bottle of foundation is not as hard as you may think. After all, who better than an expert on nail color application to inform your clients of the hottest makeup shades around? That’s why we’ve put together this list of retail strategies to try. We talked to manufacturers and salon owners who’ve had success and asked them for tips on moving color purchases.

1.      Throw a party. These can be successful in retailing to both existing clients and new prospects. “Set out a couple of hours to entertain a group with a size that you and your staff can handle,” says Joan Komorowski, who heads JOAN, a marketing and public relations firm in Redondo Beach, Calif. Provide manicures, makeovers, and other services. Give party-goers goodie bags with samples and gift certificates as they leave. “This will help drive them back into your salon,” she says.
2.      Change retail displays often. Randy Currie of Currie Hair Skin Nails in Glen Mills, Pa., says he changes the salon’s displays at least every month or two. By keeping things fresh and interesting, your clients will be more inclined to buy that new lipstick.
3.      Keep your displays clean and dust free. Nothing gives off a better impression than having clean, spotless displays. If there’s any dust on your products, client might wrongly mistake that for makeup that’s been sitting on the shelf for too long.
4.      Keep up with the trends. Stock up on various beauty and fashion magazines to keep abreast of what shades are hot and which ones are not. Instead of tossing them out after you’ve read them, Komorowski suggests posting magazines showing the latest looks and products next to the items you carry. Show celebrities wearing the same makeup shades next to the items you’re trying to promote.
5.      Offer makeovers. If you have a staff cosmetician or esthetician who does skin care, a makeup application can be the finishing touch. Mary Mercado, director of marketing for Worldwide Cosmetics in North Hollywood, Calif., suggests offering once-a-month demos. “Have clients put in their makeup requests beforehand,” she says. That way, the makeup artist will be ready to go on demo day, and your clients will be more likely to purchase the products and shades they requested. If you don’t have someone in house, invite a makeup artist in for a day to do free makeovers.
6.      Implement a recycling program. A few cosmetic manufacturers have programs where for every six or so empty lipstick tubes returned, the client gets a full-size lipstick in exchange. It will provide an incentive for clients to keep coming back to your salon if they get something in return.
7.      Take it back. Many times clients will buy a color that looks great in the package but looks hideous once they apply it at home. Make it known that if a client is not happy with a shade, you’ll be more than happy to take it back, either for an exchange of a refund.
8.      Choices, choices, choices. If you have the budget, invest in more than one makeup line. Clients are more likely to flock to your makeup area if they see that you have a variety of shades to choose from. Rosemary Weiner, owner of The Brass Rose Salon & Spa in Blairstown, N.J., offers her clients two choices: a private label line and a line of mineral-based eye shadows, foundations, and blush.
9.      Get your staff involved. How can you sell makeup if you know nothing about it? Make sure all of your staff members are well versed in all the cosmetics you carry. At Morgan Perris Salon in Westmont, Ill., salon manager Sharon Vietoris says she holds staff meetings when new makeup shades arrive. “That way everyone is on the same page with what’s new,” she says.
10.  Do a little detective work. Copy the successful strategies of other retailers. Visit you local Macy’s or Target – wherever your target clientele makes their cosmetic purchases. Take a notebook with you to jot down any ideas you may want to use in your salon.
11.  Try the conservative approach. Not too sure about retailing makeup because you don’t know if it will sell? Then start off slow. Instead of investing in a complete makeup line, simply feature a line of lipsticks. As you track sales and see how well they are received by your clients, you can then decide whether or not to add eye shadows, pencils, and blush to you inventory. Several nail color companies offer lipsticks to coordinate.
12.  Price products accordingly. Before you start selling, make sure your price your cosmetics according to the type of clients you attract. If your salon caters to an upscale crowd, then you can afford to charge a bit more for a tube of mascara. But if working single moms make up the bulk of your clientele, then you’re better off putting a reasonable price tag on your products if you want them to fly off the shelves.
13.  Offer your staff incentives. Currie says contests among employees are a great way to boost sales. For example, reward the person who sells the most retail in a month with a gift certificate for a local restaurant. Weiner offers her staff commission on all retail products sold and even provides them with a “helpful hints guide” to make it easier and more enticing for them.
14.  Provide a hands-on approach. “Provide tester units in the waiting room so that people can shop while they wait,” says Komorowski. “Also, make sure you position a mirror nearby so they can see the results.” Make sure you also have plenty of tissue, cotton swabs, and makeup remover on hand. Better yet, help the client sample the products. Use a small spatula or cotton swab to apply a small sample of the product to her hand. While you have her there, be sure to suggest – and let her sample – various flattering shades.
15.  The prettier, the better. “Packaging is the key to getting clients interested in purchasing a product,” says Peggy Bellafiore of Action Bag & Display in Wood Dale, Ill. With that in mind, make sure you invest in a makeup line that offers attractive packaging and displays. You can also add to the look by placing the makeup in small, colorful bags or by simply adding decorative touches such as ribbon and confetti to your cosmetic area. And don’t forget about sending clients home with their purchases all wrapped up in pretty tissue paper – or better yet – in a bag with your salon’s logo on it.
16.  Let there be samples. Everyone loves free samples. After all, what better way to try a product and see if you like it or not? After you’re done polishing your client’s nails and before she’s out the door, offer her a sample of a lipstick that would go perfectly with her polish shade. If you’re wary about handling out a full-size tube, offer clients trial sizes.
17.  Have a complete set ready to go. Nowadays, it’s a proven fact that women are busier than ever. Make their lives easier by offering complete make-up kits containing the essentials: eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara, blush, lip-liner, and lipstick. “Put together a weekend look, a nighttime look, and a day look that are ready to go,” says Valerie Celia, vice president of marketing for Jessica Cosmetics International in North Hollywood, Calif. Place the kits in bags, zippered pouches, or anything else that will keep them all together.
18.  Give your display area a theme. We’ve already mentioned that you should update your displays frequently. But it’s also important to go with a theme. For example, if your salon is introducing the latest fall collection, add a few fall touches such as yellow and orange leaves throughout your display. It it’s summer, give your display a beach theme complete with shells and sand. Many cosmetic with shells and sand. Many cosmetic companies already offer themes with their seasonal collections, so you also have the option of reflecting that theme in your display area.
19.  Keep your makeup visible. The worst thing you can do when it comes to retailing makeup is to keep it hidden away. Renee Skrocki, owner of The Salon at VIP in Riverview, Mich., has a retail area that can’t be missed. It’s right next to the front desk and clearly in view when a client walks through the door. Weiner keeps her makeup close to a window where passersby can clearly see the merchandise.
20.  Believe in the product. Sure you may know each ingredient in that container of blush, but how can you really recommend a product if you haven’t tried it yourself? “Wear what you sell,” says Currie. “Our makeup artists and front desk staff wear the cosmetics we retail.” And the great thing about wearing one of the shadows you sell is that a client may mention how much she likes the color. Then you can tell her that you just happen to have it for sale in the salon.
21.  Get in the spirit of holiday giving. The holidays are all about giving, and they’re also about making sure you promote your wares. During this busy time of year, offer your regular clients a free lipstick and work with them to help choose the perfect color. “They’ll love the free product and enjoy the personal attention they receive,” says Komorowski. “After all, no woman can have too many lipsticks.”
22.  Keep hot makeup shades within reach. If you notice that a particular shade of lip gloss is selling well, make it more visible. Place batches of lip gloss throughout the salon: nest to the front desk, next to your nail station, next to the wash station. The more visible a product is, the more a client will want to buy it. Then as you’re doing her nails, start talking about makeup and casually mention how popular that product is with your other clients.
23.  Choose cosmetics that go with your clientele. Before you decide to include makeup in your salon, it’s important to keep in mind that you have to cater to your clientele. Are your clients mostly in their 20s? Are they older women who are looking for age-defying products? Before you make the investment, take a client survey and see what kind of makeup and shades your clients lean toward. After all, if your clients prefer brown eye shadow and you buy purple, chances are, it’s not going to sell.
24.  Gift certificates make great presents. What can you get the person who has everything? A gift certificate for a makeup session complete with take-home products is a great gift to give. And once the client has taken home the makeup, chances are she might return to buy another tube of that exclusive, sold-only-at-your-salon mascara.
25.  Join a cause. You’ve seen and probably purchased items that say the company will donate $2 for every product sold to a charitable organization. Mercado suggests salons do something along the same lines. It attracts more clients to buy a productif they know that a portion of their money is going to charity. And the salon has the satisfaction of knowing it’s doing a good deed.
26.  If it’s a new, make it known. Once that new makeup collection comes in, make sure to let you clients know. “Always put a ‘new’ sign on all the latest colors,” Komorowski says. “This encourages people to try them.” Not only that, your clients will also know that you’re constantly giving them new choices and don’t just stock the same shades you started off with.
27.  Offer product descriptions. If you’re not blessed with a big staff and you don’t have the time to show off your makeup collection, you can leave it up to shelf talkers and other promotional materials to do the work. Manycompanies offer pamphlets and brochures that describe their makeup lines. Put a few of them next to the products. Or, write up small description cards and place them next to products that may need a little more explanation on what they are and how they’re used, such as face glitter and cheek tint.
28.  Give the slow movers more attention. It’s natural to pay more attention to a product that’s selling well, but you shouldn’t ignore slower moving merchandise. If that eye shadow isn’t selling as well as you’d like it to, the key is to make it more visible to your clients. Currie stocks his best sellers down low and reserves the prime, eye-level spots for less popular items. Also, try these less popular products out on your clients so they’ll be more inclined to buy.
29.  Put together a gift basket. Next time someone’s looking for a gift, offer him or her a basket filled to the brim with cosmetics. Have some already made and display them throughout the salon, and let your clients pick and choose what products to put in the basket. Make sure you have a few extras out during holidays.
30.  Keep track of sales. It may take a while, but it’s worthwhile to develop a system that’ll help you accurately keep track of you sales. Then you know what’s selling and what’s not, how much people are spending, and so forth. If a particular shade of lipstick isn’t doing so well, then you know you shouldn’t reorder it.
31.  Put your own name on the shelf. Many companies offer entire cosmetics lines for private label – for you to put your name on. Kennie Rogers, owner of Brittanis’ Cosmetics in Chula Vista, Calif., says private label cosmetics give a line a special, exclusive touch. “The salon owner develops the line herself, and it’s based on what her customers want,” he says. Everything can be custom made, right down to the displays.
32.  Don’t do it all yourself. Whether you decide to go private label or feature a well-known company, don’t pick out the items yourself. Make sure to include your staff when it comes time to select new colors or add a new line. If you decide to feature your own label, let your employees pick and name their favorite lipstick shade. Then they might be more inclined to sell their namesake.
33.  Hold a clearance sale. Weiner’s answer to slow-moving merchandise is to hold a tent sale outside the salon every so often. Discount the items and even if you can’t hold on an outside sale, you might want to occasionally hold a clearance sale inside.
34.  Offer coupons. Jennifer Pealer, owner of Jennifer & Co. in Mentor, Ohio, not only features coupons in newspapers and newsletters, she even offers discounts on her website. You can also hand out coupons in the salon, especially if you have a new item you’re trying to promote.
35.  Keep you makeup area well stocked. If you really want to attract clients to your makeup selection, the it’s always best to have a well-stocked area. If too much product is missing from a display and it looks empty, a client isn’t as likely to approach it.
36.  Do your research before investing. When choosing either a brand name or private labeler, investigate what support services will be provided, including suggested retail prices, minimum order levels, educational materials, and promotional assistance.
37.  Offer gift-with-purchase programs. When was the last time you bought a lipstick just so you could get the free gift accompanying it? Offer a free makeup bag with a $25 purchase, a free makeup session with a purchase, or even a buy-one-get-one-free promotion to keep them coming back for more.
38.  Advertise what you sell. Whether it’s placing an ad in the local paper or even sending out your own newsletter, make your clients aware of what you sell. Currie includes new products and promotions in his newsletters, and he says it’s a good way of giving them personal attention.
39.  Concentrate fully on makeup. If you have the budget for it, hire someone who will focus solely on makeup. This person can be in charge of applying the makeup, and she can also focus on day-to-day sales, promotions, merchandising, and inventory control. Whenever there’s any down time, have her walk around the salon and ask clients if they’d like a complimentary touch-up on their makeup.
40.  Donate makeup to charity. If that orange eye shadow isn’t a big hit with your clients, you might consider donating it to charity. “The colors that don’t sell well we give to charities,” says Vietoris. Put together a gift basket or two filled with the items and donate them to a local charitable auction or organization.
41.  Stock up on seasonal items. During the holidays, certain makeup shades seem to make an appearance. Come Christmas and New Year’s, think about featuring glittery face powder and eye shadow. When Halloween’s around the corner, offer dark, fun shades of lipstick for clients to use with their costumes.
42.  Offer the complete package. Incorporate makeup into a service. For example, Morgan Perris Salon offers a wedding package that not only includes nails and hair, but also features a makeup session. Clients will be more willing to purchase the makeup you used on them if you show them how to apply it.
43.  Provide clients with frequent buyer cards. Reward clients who make frequent cosmetic purchases by offering punch-out cards. “People actually use them, and it drives traffic back to the salon,” says Mercado. Have a buy-10-get-one-free deal. Once the card is completely filled, present the client with a full-size tube of lipstick, eye shadow, or let her pick any product she’d like.
44.  Work with your distributor. Distributors can play an important role in your retail success. Distributors can be helpful in setting up special events and sales promotions. They can also help out with point-of-purchase merchandising materials and incentive contest prizes.
45.  Have fun! Have faith in what you sell and be patient. Results will come, although they may not happen overnight. Use your imagination, creativity, and your selling skills, and you’ll be on your way to retailing success.

Keywords:   cosmetics     marketing/promotions     retailing  

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