Could a New Word Invigorate Salon Retail?

by Cyndy Drummey | September 1, 2007

I’ve been wondering whether we ought to come up with a new word for “retail.” The concept of nail technicians selling products to their customers for use at home hasn’t really taken hold and hasn’t paid off for nail technicians the way the industry had hoped. Most people tend to believe the reason retail isn’t bigger in nail salons is because nail techs don’t/won’t/can’t sell. Others believe that because most nail techs are booth renters, it’s difficult to stock and display a decent array of products, a necessity to entice customers. I’m wondering whether calling “retail” something different might help nail techs and salon owners overcome whatever obstacle is preventing them from profiting from retail sales, which could be a source of at least 20% of their income.

What if, instead of calling things like cuticle oils and nail strengtheners “retail products” and suggesting that you “retail them,” we call them “take-home products” that you “recommend”? Is that more palatable? If you think of non-service products as “take-home” – truly products that support the salon service while the customer is at home – do you think you’d be more inclined to recommend them to your clients? If you didn’t feel like you were selling, would you be less reluctant?

How about this; Instead of retail or take-home, what about saying you offer “service-extension products”? That implies that using these products extends the salon service, right? Or “professionally recommended home-care products”? “Manicure-protection products”? “Hand care maintenance kits”? I’m not trying to come up with clever euphemisms; I’m trying to get you to look at an old concept in a new light. Sometimes that’s all it takes to shift old perceptions. Maybe if you look at things differently so will your clients.

Instead of “selling” products, what if you “suggest” or “advise”? What if you tell a client that you guarantee your work or you guarantee results only if she follows your recommended “home care regimen”?

With the proliferation of take-home products – heavenly scented body butters, cutely packaged cuticle oils, strengtheners for any nail type – you have to think it would be easier than ever to get clients interested in these products. It seems that the manufacturers are doing their part in getting you great products, efficient displays, and marketing materials. Retailing products, er, recommending take-home products, is a direct path to increasing your income. I strongly recommend/urge/implore you to think about it in new terms 

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