A Matter of Perspective, I Suppose
  • Maggie Franklin
  • August 24, 2010

As we all know — and often wish we could shout from the rooftops to the general public — not all nail salons are created equally. Not all nail technicians/nail artists/nail stylists/nailists/onychological enhancement specialists are created equally. There's a big difference between a $20 set of nails and a $60 set of nails.

Just like there's a big difference between a car that costs $15,000 and a car that costs $85,000. And there's a big difference between jewelry that costs $100 and jewelry that costs $10,000, jeans that cost $30 and jeans that cost $150, a purse that costs $25 and a purse that cost $1,200 ... and a cup of coffee that cost $1.50 and a cup of coffee that costs $4.45.

There've been thousands of conversations on our forums and articles in our magazines about how to market our services in order to raise awareness of these price-to-quality ratios as they pertain to our industry so that we can lure clients away from cheap nail salons and into the waiting arms of the caring nail techs who are ready to prove that our higher prices really are worth it in the long run.

Yet, from the same mouths, almost in the same breath, I also hear my breathren talking about choosing lesser brands of all manner of products from their nail art to their lattes with much of their reasoning based on price.

Sometimes I'm right there with ya. I'm not going to pay the same price for ¼-oz. of glitter when I can get ½-oz. for the same price. There are plenty of instances where I've been able to find products of similar quality at significantly different prices — in which case, I'm all about the savings. And then there are the times when I honestly cannot detect a difference in quality... and if that's the case, why would I choose the more expensive product?

Which is what wrinkles my brow as more and more people in my circle swear off Starbucks in favor of...ummm, well you know what you're drinking.

It boggles my mind that so many people claim that they honestly can't tell the difference between the coffee mega-brand's product and the fast food mega-brand's offerings. Really? You think it's just as good?

Not me. I keep finding the money for the more expensive stuff — because I honestly think there's a huge difference and the quality is worth the extra cost to me.

Which got me to thinking about all those conversations about convincing the target market for our products and services that there's a good reason to pay the higher price. But here we are, not practicing that same thinking in our own consumer habits.

A lot of people really can't tell the difference between an exquisitely sculpted set of pink-and-whites and a clear overlay on top of poorly fitted white tips. And that truth is terrifying, humiliating, and devastating to those of us who put our heart and soul into our work and charge accordingly.

Somewhere in Seattle there is a heartbroken barista with mediocre nails talking about how she just can't understand why people would drink inferior coffee just because it's cheaper. (Of course, she doesn't actually work at Starbucks because they won't let you have your nails done. But that's beside the point.)

How many nail techs are ordering their coffee while wearing exquisitely sculpted pink-and-whites and wondering why anyone would wear inferior nails just because they're cheaper?

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