The relocation of the Gene Juarez Bellevue salon in 2017 was the opportunity the company had been waiting for to update and re-energize our long-established brand. Bellevue, sitting across the lake from Seattle, has become a magnet for Millennials, and that’s a demographic our group needed to attract if it was to continue to grow. But it had to be done without alienating our established clientele.
But how do you create a Millennial-facing business in a build-out? For us, in Washington, the solution was to bring the New York loft salon to the Pacific Northwest. It might not work for every salon group, but the principles of how to broaden appeal to younger people are the virtually the same wherever your future or soon-to-be-refurbished business is based:
- Design for the consumer you have in mind, not the clientele you have. As a 47 year old brand, the challenge we face is that Millennials, and younger, do not want to go to the same salon as their grandmother. We may no longer appeal to some of the long standing clients in Bellevue, but by focusing on the clientele we wanted rather than who we had, we made sure we created a business that will grow rather than age.
- Expect the unexpected and budget accordingly. Depending on what sort of market you are in, make sure you have a contingency if there’s an overspend or unexpected delays. I factored in 20-25% additional funds to draw on in a crisis, which meant I didn’t have to compromise on what I knew would appeal to younger people.
- Prioritize flow through the salon to benefit your staff, many of whom will be Millennials, to make it convenient for them. If you can make them feel they are valued and the salon is as much for them as it is for clientele, you are going to have a much happier team.
- Incorporate as much new tech as possible. Millennials love technology because it’s all they know. Auto check-in, automated check-out, interactive devices in the retail area, anything that brings the fast-moving, high-tech world into the salon.
- Design the retail space from a retailer’s viewpoint not a salon owner’s. Follow the likes of Sephora or Blue Mercury, where the shopping experience is as important and relevant as the services, so you can compete with online – a channel this age group is uses frequently. The space must be interactive, using technology to inform the client and with products the consumer can pick up and feel. The lighting must be planned out at the design stage and be specific to the area, to show off the products properly and encourage browsing.
Our bid to capture a new audience has started to worked for us, but I’d still be interested to know what others have done to ensure their salons have youth-appeal. While still honoring their existing clientele.