Beauty professionals know that marketing their own private label line of products can be a big money-maker. They also know that private label products are professional-quality, and therefore good for the client to use at home. A salon that has its own line of products enhances its image — beauty professionals know that too.
But for the client, a private label line means a lot more than paying higher- than-drugstore prices to obtain a good product. Private label lines are valuable to the client because she knows the nail technician or esthetician has done the research that she doesn’t have the time, money, or energy to do herself. The beauty professional has spent years perfecting her technique, and in the process has tried many more products than the average client knows are on the market. It’s her job to be familiar with at least dozens of products, and if she’s passionate about her work, she’ll be on the lookout for new products that work and look better.
“I always feel there are better products out there,” says Harrold Laxman, president of Harrold’s Salon on Fifth Avenue in New York City. “When we test a new product, we give it to a few of our manicurists, then get their own and their clients’ reactions of the quality — how it comes out of the bottle, its durability, and its shine. We wouldn’t sell a bottle of nail polish off the shelf if it didn’t have the quality to justify a repeat sale.”
Testing products is only the first step a nail technician or salon owner takes before offering a private label line to clients. She will have also learned how a manufacturer handles delivery and backs up products and taken advantage of any education or marketing assistance offered. She may have spent hundreds of hours developing her line — deciding what she and her clients want, finding the appropriate manufacturer, learning to use the product and educate her clients, choosing a name for the line, and designing the labels.
It’s just like when a patient goes to the doctor — she trusts that the doctor will prescribe an appropriate medicine in the dosage that she needs. In the same way, the client trusts the nail technician to offer her products that will make her look good and feel good about her self-image. A private label line is a symbol of the beauty professional’s commitment to serving her client.
This commitment, in turn, means that the beauty professional’s reputation is on the line when she offers private label products. Ultimately, she will be held responsible for the line’s success or failure, so it’s important she understand exactly what her clients need (and that can be another few hundred hours of research).
Clients who return to the same nail technician every two weeks for nail services have come to trust her. When they see her own line of products, they believe in the products because they believe in the nail technician. Consequently, the products have greater value to the client. The beauty professional’s image is not only contained in the salon, but also in the bottles, jars, and tubes she sells.
FINDING THE BEST
Many salon owners developed their own private label lines as a result of their search for an excellent product. Eimsuk Arminio, owner of Eimsuk Arminio’s Nail & Skin Care Gallery in Downey, Calif., was looking for a polish that dried fast and didn’t chip. When she found one, she put her label on it and it’s been successful ever since. “My techs use it and they love it,” says Arminio. “Clients are impressed that their own shop has its own polish line. And if they like it, they can only buy it here — we have the market.”
Margaret Paiso, a client of Arminio’s from Downey, Calif., says, “It’s like a trip every time I come in. There’s a variety of decals and polish in a lot of colors.” A private label line that changes seasonally can create client curiosity — they wonder what’s new each time they come in. But they will continue to buy the new offerings only if the quality’s good.
Another reason salon owners develop a private label line is to compete effectively. “When we started 17 years ago with brand name products, we didn’t want to compete with the five and dimes carrying the same things,” explains Laxman. “We wanted to provide an excellent product for our clients.”
“I’ve been a makeup artist for 22 years. In that time, I’ve been forced to use single lines even if I didn’t like all the components,” says Amy Regal, skin care consultant and spa manager at Bloomie’s Face & Body in Farmington Hills, Mich. Her Maquiage line of make-up, skin care, and nail care products is sold at Bloomie’s and in six other salon locations. “I shopped and experimented to find the best products. Most women when they shop will buy one company’s lipstick, another’s blush, and a third’s eyeshadow. That’s the way I tried to create my line,” Regal says.
Regal is very selective about her Maquiage products, including nail polish. She looks for good polish that doesn’t chip and is available in seasonal colors. “I want a private label product that can compete with what clients see in the aisles of beauty,” she explains, “so I’m also very particular about polish and lipstick packaging.”
SELECTED FOR THE SELECTIVE
Clients perceive that the private label line is selected especially for them, say beauty professionals. “We thought a private label line would be more personal,” says Andrea Mazer, a makeup artist at Hair Designs by the Best in Buffalo Grove, Ill. ‘They couldn’t go to Walgreen’s and buy it. Our clients are very opinionated and they love it.”
While the beauty professional has a good idea of the quality of her products, most clients are thinking about how it looks on them. Adrienne Eisenmann of Buffalo Grove, Ill., says she uses the Hair Designs by the Best private label products simply because they look good. Other clients, like Gloria Holzman of Southfield, Mich., say that the professional endorsement of the products makes them valuable.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A PRIVATE LABEL LINE
To ensure your customers will be happy with your private label line, you’ve got to be happy too. The following tips will help you select a line that’s best for you and your clients.
- Look for consistency in product quality and packaging. If the product’s performance varies or the printing on the box is blurred, the line—and you—will develop a reputation for unreliability.
- Make sure that if the manufacturer discontinues a product, a replacement is available.
- The manufacturer should offer support material, samples for you and your client, classes, and plenty of information about the line.
- Offer a discount to salon employees who purchase the private label line. If they use it, their clients are likely to use it as well.
- Do more than think positively — speak positively. You and the other salon employees should recommend the line to every client you see.
- Don’t be afraid to demand a lot from your private label line. Insist on excellent products with eye-catching packaging. Your line has to compete with every other line on the market. Make sure it stands a good chance of succeeding.
- Ask the manufacturer about discounts and special offers, and find out what costs the salon will have to absorb — filling or bottling, labeling, silk-screening, etc.
- Be sure the manufacturer backs up its products. Find out whether the company offers product liability insurance for private label products.
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