Professional Hair Care Retailing

How Far Does the Multichannel Strategy Go for Salon Hair Care Brands?

The multichannel movement among professional brands has grown in recent years, but how different companies react to it varies. Some brands are turning into hybrid brands and selling mostly or a large part of their products through retail stores as opposed to salons. Many examples of such brands can be found among newer players on the market, such as Oribe (now owned by Kao), Alterna (among Henkel’s brands portfolio), or Living Proof (a Unilever brand). Among well-established marketers that have had a multichannel approach for many years is Estée Lauder with brands like Aveda and Bumble and bumble. In the United States, Aveda even has its own vertically integrated stores.

Some professional brands decide to turn to the retail environment, dropping, in part or entirely, their sales through the professional channel. This has been the case of the It’s a 10 brand in North America or, more recently, TIGI who has entered some challenging markets, such as Brazil and South Korea.

Most brands though see an opportunity in selling through various channels while trying to keep an image of a professional brand. Such brands are balancing their strategy between supporting hair stylists through training and dedicated products for professional use only and achieving higher sales to consumers through a presence outside salons—both offline in brick-and-mortar stores and online.

Other brands decide to stay outside the omnichannel movement and affirm their commitment to the professional channel (salons) only. These include Kevin Murphy, Eufora, and Keune. The three brands show robust sales performance, as their targeted strategy is appreciated by salons, especially independent ones.

The first edition of our new study—Professional Hair Care Retailing: Channel Analysis and Opportunities—took a closer look at two key trendsetting markets when it comes to a multichannel approach: the United States and the United Kingdom. This analysis has shown such market features as extraordinary growth of the online channel in the U.S. market (almost a 50% increase!) or the importance of department stores in the U.K. market (while sales are rather stagnant, the channel accounts for over 15% of professional hair care sales that happen outside salons).

In the upcoming second edition of Professional Hair Care Retailing: Channel Analysis and Opportunities study, we will focus on two other important markets: China and France. In China, take-home sales of professional products are minor compared to other markets, as their share in the total salon hair care market is below 10%. Nevertheless, e-commerce, which accounts for one-third of sales of professional products to consumers, is booming. Therefore, we will further explore the role of such resellers like Tmall or, but also smaller online and offline retailers. On the other hand, in France, in addition to the online channel, we will take a closer look at beauty supply stores like Bleu Libellule, which sells to both professionals and individual consumers. In addition, we will also dig into other brick-and-mortar stores, such as perfumeries, including Sephora, the most well-known perfumery chain in the world.

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