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Thinking Outside the Box

Behind every successful 18|8 salon there are women pushing their partners through the door. Yes, you need to sell it to the men so they want to come and sit in your chair, but it also pays off looping in what we’ve found at 18|8 Fine Men’s Salons to be the all-time influencer.

Fifteen years ago, long before male salons and barbers hit the fashion big time, my partner Scott Griffiths and I were already working on a concept we believed was pretty unique. An alternative upscale haven that caters and understands the specific genetic styling and grooming needs of a man and his desire to never step foot in a salon filled with wall-to-wall estrogen, French fashion magazines, gossip rags and the smell of fried perms again.

While we originally started the endeavour to give men a place to escape the female experience, we realized that women still played a large part in our marketing process. In fact, research done this year by Gillette showed that 69% of men admit being influenced by women when making decisions about styling their hair.

After 10 years, we are convinced much of our success is down, in part, to women. They are our biggest fans. It’s women pushing their men our way that has fuelled our success. Perhaps there is an element of not wanting to be seen in their foils and their curlers. But we also know that women wanted to share the luxury of a day pampering themselves in a salon, they just didn’t want it to be their salon.

So we went all-out to woo them, too. Our advertising is a combo-approach – aspirational (something nice for the ladies to ogle and men to want to be) and fun. An example of how we play on the gender formula is a video staring a character that has grown within 18|8 a bit organically – Joe Curler, raising a hearty, cross-gender chuckle.

Comedian Joe Sib played the part well, nailing the mood and sentiment with his fat cigar and sharp suit. He lays into the concept of a woman’s purse ‘where sanctuary meets total chaos, a modern day Rubik’s cube’. It links the purse to the salon, suggesting men belong in neither; it’s simply not their domain.

While the obvious target of any men’s marketing campaign is the guy walking through our door, our unconventional take on marketing has helped to not only define what we are, but what we aren’t.

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