Carrie Mellage, Kline's Vice President of Consumer Products presenting in a Cosmo Talks session.

Big Data? Big Deal. Is it Really That Important?

The answer is a resounding “yes” based upon the insightful and passionate discussion that took place among the panel of industry experts that convened last week at Cosmoprof North America to address the topic of data. Jerry Densk, L’Oréal Vice President of Consumer and Market Intelligence; Rick Kornbluth, CEO of Kevin.Murphy; and Sydney Berry, CEO/Co-Owner of Salon Services joined Steve Sleeper, Executive Director of the PBA, and Carrie Mellage of Kline to share their experiences using data to manage their businesses.

The session began with everyone in the room agreeing with Mellage, Kline’s Vice President of Consumer Products, that the professional salon industry is lacking in terms of data when compared to other industries. While there are some resources available, there is still a way to go. Throughout the course of the program, it was stressed a number of times that it is necessary for the industry to work together and finally understand that it really is okay to share data. As Kornbluth said, “We are at a tipping point; we have to help the industry.”

One source that is currently available in the United States and United Kingdom—and used by all the panelists—is Kline PRO. It is transaction-based and provides in-depth data on salon services and retail products. To give attendees an idea of what type of data are available (along with how that data can be used), Mellage shared insights from the just-released Q1 2019 Kline PRO database.

Where have salons created value?

Source: Kline PRO USA Q1 2019

Source: Kline PRO USA Q1 2019

Growth can come from increases in service count, prices, or both

Source: Kline PRO USA Q1 2019

Source: Kline PRO USA Q1 2019

Next, Densk shared with the audience how, in today’s retail environment, it is vital to look at the whole market. In addition to Kline PRO and Kline’s Salon Hair Care Global report, he utilizes several other sources to provide him with a 360° view that includes salons, distributors, mass markets, and e-commerce, giving him a way to help his brands make decisions that are fact-based. Being able to recognize trends and set goals is key to developing the right products. What Densk does is a combination of art and science—it takes both qualitative and quantitative data to be successful. He stressed that what is needed most is transparency—“more transparency from everybody, and everybody grows.”

Berry, meanwhile, offered her perspective as an independent distributor. “Data is everywhere, just not in our industry,” she said.  To illustrate her point, she held up a recent Wall Street Journalarticle that showed how data helped a college basketball player improve his trajectory, leading to a higher three-point percentage and, ultimately, a lucrative NBA contract. Berry’s message was that to survive and fend off threats to the industry, the latest being Amazon Pro, we need to help each other. “We are a necessary industry,” she said. “We are not a commodity—we are a touchpoint. We need to raise the boat together, or we will all drown.”

Kornbluth also used a sports analogy to relay the importance of data in decision making. He referenced the movie Moneyballand how, in 2002, the Oakland Athletics turned to statistics (on-base percentage) as an indicator of success instead of using scouts’ intuition to draft a team. Through the use of data, the general manager was able to put together a team that clinched the American League West title. The moral of the story is that you “can’t make decisions without knowing what works.” Kornbluth and Kevin.Murphy use data as a fundamental element in running the hair care company. Data is key in product innovation and development, in helping distributors succeed by sharing benchmarks within their network, and in education and support to the stylists so they, in turn, can “prescribe” products to their clients.

The remainder of the time was filled with amazingly perceptive and thoughtful questions from attendees. Queries ranged from the representativeness of the Kline PRO panel to understanding how to help stylists recommend products to clients and what the future holds for the industry. Sleeper closed the session by commending those in attendance for appreciating the need for data; he also encouraged them to “be ambassadors [and] beat the drum” for all channels of the professional salon industry to unite and not operate in a silo. Said Sleeper: “When we’re all in, we all benefit.”

To gain access to some of the most interesting data snippets from Q1 2019, request the Kline PRO USA Q1 2019 Fact Sheet.

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