What She’s Buying

Today’s American woman may not be waiting for a frog to turn into a prince, but she is trying to find a way to turn her own self-deplored features into princess-like traits. Therefore, at-home beauty products that have a “transforming” benefit are at the top of her list.

Hoping to avoid treatments like Botox or plastic surgery, women are turning to retail products that promise similar results. Some easy at-home enhancements include lip plumping, teeth whitening, and spray tanning. In the nail salon, items that fit this philosophy include anti-aging hand lotions, nail whiteners, and nail strengthening/nourishing treatments.

Women are also looking for “healthy” items. The nationwide popularity of grocery chains Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are evidence that today’s consumers are looking for organic items both inside and outside of their bodies. In the beauty industry, there has been a shift from solving problems to preventing them. And the women are doing this in packs. “Girlfriend” spa parties are gaining ground, and health is at the center of attention with massages, yoga, and of course, healthy foods.

Another key market that has recently surfaced is high-end products that women can buy for their children. Today’s working mom tries to allay some of her guilt from not being home as often by buying her kids nice things — including salon and spa treatments and high-end, kid-friendly bath, body, and beauty products.


Applying It to Your Salon

  • Offer “transforming” retail products.
  • Focus on explaining how your services affect women's health and future for the better.
  • Work with a local yoga studio to co-promote each other’s services and throw parties together.
  • Sell kids’ products — even if kids aren’t part of your clientele.


Why She’s Buying

Most women (60%) shop for beauty products at an obvious time — when they run out. And even though they may be scraping the bottoms of their pots of face cream, 39% of women still want to try something new before they buy it. Lucky for you retailers, the top way women find out about these products is seeing them in a store.

When it comes to buying beauty products, the savvy shoppers of today are doing more comparison price shopping and more aggressively looking for sales now than just one year ago. Far more than half of the women surveyed (71% of mainstream women* and 53% of affluent women*) said, “I am more price-driven and cautious in my beauty-products spending now than I was one year ago.” Why? The No. 1 reason was concern over the economy.

But a shopper’s concern doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. Fifty-five percent of women shop for beauty products to relax and relieve stress. And 65% of the survey participants said they feel happy after purchasing a new beauty product.

*The Benchmarking Company describes mainstream women as coming from homes with a household income of $99,000 or less. Women whose household income is $100,000 to $249,000 are described as affluent.

Applying It to Your Salon

  • Advertise retail sales in local media — use the female consumer's desire for saving on products to draw them in to see your services.
  • Have samples to test — price-conscious shoppers are leery of purchasing expensive new products without trying them first.
  • Focus on how the products will make her life easier.
  • Make sure your retail displays are as stress-free to peruse as possible; items should be clean and logically organized.


Where She’s Buying

A woman’s household income is often a factor in where she buys. Mainstream-income women more likely (61% of them) have a favorite store they like to shop for most of their beauty products. Only 44% of affluent women rely on their favorite store for most of their beauty shopping.

Perhaps most telling for these women, though, is their favorite stores. Mainstream-income women heavily favor Wal-Mart as their beauty store of choice; a striking 44% of them count the mammoth retail store as their one place they like to shop for most of their beauty products. Only 11% of affluent women say Wal-Mart is their all-encompassing beauty store, which ties with Macy’s as their favorite. Other favorites include Target and Bath & Body Works.

As chain retailers catch onto this trend, it doesn’t appear it will slow down. Drugstores are now becoming exclusive carriers of European brands, too. In 2003, CVS became the exclusive U.S. retailer for Lumene, a well-known Finnish skincare and cosmetics company. That same year, Walgreens inked a deal with IsaDora, a high-end Swedish cosmetic company. In 2005, Rite Aid joined in and became the exclusive U.S. retailer for Swissological, a Swiss skin-care line.

Even Bath & Body Works, once the mall staple for lotions and soaps, now offers high-end or professional products. The retailer (which 5% of mainstream women and 9% of affluent women claim is their favorite shop for beauty products) now carries Lippmann Collection, Barielle, Tweezerman, Joey New York, and Murad products — among many others.

Applying It to Your Salon

  • Offer a variety of beauty products, so you can be clients’ one-stop beauty shop.
  • Stress to customers how easy it is to buy this from you now (so she doesn’t have to make a late-night run to a retail giant later when she runs out).