Consumer advertising by professional manufacturers is bringing welcome attention -- and credibility -- to salon brands.
What is Tweezerman doing in Redbook? And why is OPI running a sweepstakes with Glamour? The answer from them, and from many other professional nail product manufacturers is simple: to get more consumers into your salon.
A few months ago, editors from many of the big con¬sumer magazines mingled with OPI executives at the posh, newly renovated Beverly Hills Hotel, and waited to hear about what some of the upcoming trends in “nail high fashion” would be. Many of than were familiar not only with the OPI brand, but also with Orly Inter¬national, Creative Nail Design Systems, Tweezerman, Seche International, and other professional lines.
Professional nail products are in the spotlight with a growing visibility, even to those who have never set foot inside a salon. Part of the reason is that man¬ufacturers are focusing more of their efforts and advertising budgets on con¬sumer advertising. “For years, profes¬sional hair products and cosmetics have been advertised [in the consumer press],” says Lynn Hayes Granger, vice president of marketing and advertis¬ing of Orly International (Chatsworth, Calif.). “Nails were always the Orphan in consumer publications. Now, as more and more advertising comes out, nails are becoming more visible.”
The trend of expanding into the consumer marketplace through adver¬tising is coupled with an increasing number of editorial stories and columns that mention and even recommend certain professional prod¬ucts. Robert Yates, vice president of marketing of Creative Nail Design Systems (Vista, Calif.), says his company hasn’t even start¬ed a consumer ad campaign yet, but they average about five to SL’C editorial mentions each month. “There are more nail articles now than there have been in 20 years,” he says. The com¬bined effect of advertisements and sto¬ries related to nail salons and products, the manufacturers hope, will cause more salon-shy consumers to get their nails done professionally.
An Uphill Battle
Theirs is not an easy task, since the average consumer knows little or nothing about professional nail prod¬ucts. To make matters even more challenging, the manufacturers must gear their advertising campaigns to¬ward educating the consumer about professional nail care. Tony Cuccio, president and CEO of Star Nail Products (Valencia, Calif.) maintains that most women are afraid to visit a nail salon for a variety of reasons ¬justified or not. “We have to get people who have never tried [artificial] nails to try than,” he says.
Star Nail Products’ most recent ad campaign, depicting women from around the world, deliberate¬ly used models who weren’t really models. The ad, which currently runs in trade publications but will most likely be a part of the compa¬ny’s future consumer campaign, is supposed to show real women with real-looking nails. Once women see how natural today’s artificial ex¬tensions can look, Cuccio reasons, they’ll be more willing try a salon.
Tweezerman has been advertising in consumer magazines since 1992, when the company first placed ads in Allure. Today, the Glen Cove, N.Y.-based com¬pany has 1/3-page ads in Allure, Redbook, Self, and Elle for its slant tweezers and cuti¬cle nippers. To president and CEO Dal La Magna, the move into the consumer marketplace was a way to give nail technicians and salon owners a bit of a nudge. “We kept trying to tell salons they need¬ed to do more retailing, but it was a slow take,” La Magna says. “By showing the consumer the quality of our products, we encouraged than to walk into a salon and say, ‘I want to buy a nipper’ which in turn made the salon owner stock than.”
Enhanced retail sales is a goal for OP1 Products as well. “We wanted to go light to the consumer and establish brand recogni¬tion,” says Suzi Weiss- Fischmann, executive vice pres¬ident for OP1 Products (N. Hollywood, Calif.). To date, the company has placed ads in Vogue, Allure, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Redbook. The distinctive OP1 nail lacquer bottles have ap¬peared in many editorial pieces as well. “The con¬sumer editors are starting to look to the professional trade for trends,” she says. “They don’t think of us as a small cottage industry anymore.”
. Captivating an Audience
The recognition from the ad campaigns comes slowly, and with a substantial financial in¬vestment. The ads themselves must be compelling enough to reach a jaded audience. La Magna, however admits he was stumped at first on how to grab readers’ atten¬tion. “For the longest time I could¬n’t figure out how to promote grooming implements in a cool way,” he says. Professional readers want to know how a product will work. A consumer, on the other hand, wants to know how some¬thing will make her feel or look bet¬ter. Tweezerman ads in consumer books still lean toward the practi¬cal - such as how you’ve finally found a pair of tweezers that really work. The “coo]” part is the image of the tweezers. La Magna says, “One agency came up with a very dramatic shot of our tweezers, and we’ve used it ever since. Now, I don’t mind spending $10,000 on an Allure ad!”
Price is certainly one of the biggest stumbling blocks when a manufacturer considers a con¬sumer advertising campaign. Hayes says that her consumer advertising budget is about four times the amount of her trade ad budget. To make the price tag even more stag¬gering, consumer ad placements, like any advertising, must have a certain level of frequency to be suc¬cessful. La Magna learned that les¬son the hard way. When he first ventured into the consumer marketplace, it was with a New York Times Magazine ad that cost $20,000. “We figured we could make it a direct response ad to re¬coup some of the investment,” La Magna recalls. The ad drew a dis¬mal five responses. The expensive lesson he learned was that ads could not be dropped here and there: You either make a substan¬tial commitment or you don’t.
To make budgets stretch as far as possible, manufacturers are doing other kinds of consumer advertis¬ing besides magazine insertions. For example, Creative has devel¬oped colorful point-of-purchase displays for salons that carry their products. Yates considers this a perfect salon advertising tie-in with all of the editorial coverage they have received. “If a reader sees our name in an article, it might not mean anything. But when she walks into a salon and sees it, she starts making the connection. We’re achieving great visibility this way.” OPI is participating with Glamour in a sweepstakes that will be distributed to salons that are members of Club OPI. But what¬ever the medium they choose, all of the professional nail manufactur¬ers feel it’s necessary for the indus¬try to build more consumer aware¬ness of professional products and increase the number of consumers who get their nails done regularly.
Pooling resources is another small-business idea that is catching on in the nail industry. Early in 1996, the American Beau¬ty Association (ABA) is planning a special newspaper insert in the Chicago Tribune. This 12-page insert will include advertorials about the beauty industry, as well as indi¬vidual manufacturer and salon advertisements. “The insert will not only alert consumers to the mes¬sage about professional nail, skin, and hair care, but additional copies will be available for distribution in salons as well,” says Vi Nelson, a spokesperson for the ABA. If the program is successful, similar pro¬grams in other city newspapers may follow. Says Nelson, “Individ¬ually we are small companies; to¬gether, we can have a big impact.”
Advertising Benefits All
Increased exposure in the beauty magazines is sure to bol¬ster the credibility of the compa¬nies who appear in than, but does it really help the salon owner or the nail technician? The ads bring people in, says Hayes, because the products cannot be purchased over the counter in a drugstore; salon is the only place they can b purchased. Once inside, the con SUll1er will be more likely to invest in a manicure or pedicure. Even if the advertised product is no carried at the salon, nail technicians can suggest other product that might work, or consider adding lines that walk-in customers request frequently. The main objective is to persuade consumers that good nail care is as essential as skin and hair care and to get than to think about salon visits. Consumer magazines, with their many beauty tips, seem to be the perfect vehicle to carry this message.
OPI’s plan is to work in tandem with salon owners. Its consumer advertising draws attention to the nail care industry - but the salon owners and nail technicians must keep them there. “Our ads have: toll-free number to call if a reader is interested in a product,” say. Peter Samerjan, owner of Samerjan 743, OPI’s advertising and public relations agency. “When someone calls, they are directed to the nearest Club OPI salon.’ Since OPI started its consumer advertising campaign with the re¬ferral service, membership in Club OPI has doubled.
While there will always be hot competition among the nail product manufacturers for market share, they all seem to want the same thing from their consumer advertising investment: to increase salon traffic. And if that goal means digging deeper in their pockets building business for other compa¬nies as well as theirs, and always striving for ways to make tweezers look cool, then so be it.