Are Nail Salons Beauty Salons?

by Staff Writer | November 1, 1993

Where your yellow pages listing runs isn’t necessarily up to you. While some yellow pages publishers allow nail salons to advertise under the beauty salon classification, others restrict them to the nails-only section.

Nail salons have long been excluded from advertising under the beauty salons heading in yellow pages directories because they don’t fit many publishers’ definition of what a beauty salon is.

 “It’s just a historical thing. Beauty salons were hair-only before. It’s just recently that salons have expanded into other services,” says one yellow pages publisher.

Yellow pages publishers are constantly revising and expanding their classifications, always making sure they are up to date with the terms and expressions consumers use to define a product or service category. At the same time, they have to be careful that the expanding classifications don’t force businesses to advertise under many headings, which drives advertising costs up. They also take care to ensure that all businesses under a classification offer similar services.

But research done by the National Yellow Pages Monitor, which tracks yellow pages usage in major metropolitan areas, shows that the beauty salons-beauty services heading in Pacific Bell’s directories is referenced about 36,000 times a day---its ninth most-referenced category. The manicuring heading, on the other hand, is referenced about 970 times a day---Pacific Bell’s 182nd most-referenced category. Knowing this, what nail salon owner wouldn’t want to be listed under the beauty salons-beauty services heading?

Some publishers insist that allowing nails-only salons to advertise under the beauty salons heading forces beauty salons to compete with businesses that don’t offer the same services. At Donnelly Information Publishing, for example, a business ad copy has to be at least 75% related to the classification title, so nails-only salons don’t qualify as beauty salons.

 “Our heading policy states that there cannot be conflicting ads within a classification. It would be like a beauty salon going into the manicuring classification,” says Paul Curtis, senior marketing services manager at Donnelly Information Publishing in Orange, Calif.

Donnelly’s policy is standard among yellow pages publishers. Other publishers, however, have amended their definition of beauty to include nails, based on consumer usage. “We’ve decided that beauty is generic term, and if someone is in nail care and wants to be under the beauty salons heading, we allow it. We’re looking at how the market defines beauty,” says Joan Callander, strategic planner marketing for U.S. West Direct, which publishes directories in 14 states.

According to Callander, heading definitions are based on terms a consumer associates with a product or service. To determine consumer definitions of products and services, U.S. West Direct conducts market research. For example, to determine what terms consumers use to define nail services, U.S. West Direct showed consumers a photo of someone’s nails being serviced and then asked them where they would look in the yellow pages to find a business that offers that service. According to Callander, beauty salons ranked first, followed by manicuring. Based on these results, nail salons were allowed to advertise under the beauty salons heading in addition to the manicuring and pedicuring and fingernail headings.

Pacific Bell SMART Yellow Pages revised its policy about five years ago, at about the same time as U.S. West Direct. According to Bob Finer, advertising sales manager of Pacific Bell SMART Yellow Pages in Oakland, Calif., inorder to advertise under beauty salons-beauty services, salon owners had to be licensed cosmetologists, and at least 50% of the ad copy had to be related to the beauty salons heading (whether it related was determined by the yellow pages publisher). However, today Pacific Bell uses the heading beauty salons-beauty services, which is open to any business that offers beauty-enhancing services.

At the same time, Finer is quick to say that salons that advertise under the manicuring heading have an advantage over those that choose to go under the beauty salons heading because there are fewer listings under manicuring and ads are generally smaller.

If you are a nail salon owner who doesn’t have a choice as to what heading you can advertise your business under, prepare yourself before you wage war with the publisher. “Every publisher has the right to make decisions, but to present a good case I would look at what other yellow pages are doing,” advises Callander. “The salon owner might make the argument that the industry has changed and the old restrictions no longer apply.”

It may also help your case to demonstrate what other yellow pages publishers’ policies are. The overriding concern of the publisher is to ensure that its directory is easy for consumers to use. If you can prove that the consumer definition has changed and that other yellow pages publishers have recognized the change, you stand a good chance of the publisher reviewing its policy. When you point out that nail services generate $4.6 billion per year (according to the NAILS 1993 Fact Book), yellow pages publishers may just change the policy and welcome your business.


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