Earlier this year, the market-research firm Packaged Facts released a report containing an interesting nugget: While salon services grew at just three percent from 2002 to 2007 to reach $13.7 billion, the sale of hair products and accessories grew almost three times as fast at eight percent, adding another $1.1 billion to salon revenues.
Not only are women purchasing more salon products than ever before for home use, they’re skipping the salon altogether, says Nir Kadosh, co-owner of Brooklyn-NY based Amika, which wholesales a variety of hair products nationwide, including ceramic straighteners, curlers, gift sets, styling sprays, shampoos and more. “It’s absolutely a big trend that women are choosing to buy their own products rather than go to a salon,” he says.
Getting it straight (or curly)
What types of products do women spend their money on when they head to the mall? High-tech straighteners and curlers lead the pack.
Premium high-tech styling tools are available from many companies, including Corioliss, Amika, TOL Products, Cortex, HerStyler, Wetline Pro and ISO International, and are designed to give high-quality salon looks without damaging the hair.
Amika’s straighteners and curlers, for instance, sell for $150 to $250 retail, with a 700 to 1,000 percent average markup. “With our far-infrared technology, the heat doesn’t go directly on the hair, so you’re not frying the hair from the outside,” Kadosh says. “Instead, it brings out the natural moisture and oils from the inside, for a shiny look.”
At Growing Rich, which operates 12 carts in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, “the wet-to-dry model is very popular,” says Udi Brosh, from Growing Rich’s Baltimore headquarters. Unlike straighteners that are designed to be used on dry hair, the wet-to-dry allows users to save time by skipping the drying session. Brosh reports that straighteners with animal print designs are selling very well.
Corioliss, in Beverly Hills, CA, has developed “a new technology that allows a straightener to be used for other purposes besides creating a pin-straight look,” says Director Sabrina Schueppl. “It has a floating plate system and can be used to make flips or curls, or to add body.” Corioliss has more than 200 carts in US malls.
“Right now, it’s all about animal prints,” Schueppl says. Corioliss’s line of straighteners includes zebra and red leopard designs. Animal prints and other eye-catching color schemes are key selling points, she says, so much so that this year the company plans to introduce a “skin replacement system” for straighteners so users can change the tool’s look to suit a mood or season. “We got the idea because a lot of times, when people with a black straightener saw our pink one, they wanted that one,” Schueppl says. “Now, people won’t have to change the straightener to change how it looks.”
Last year, TOL Products, based in Sun Valley, CA, launched its Jos√© Eber concept, named for the famed Beverly Hills hairdresser and partner in the project. About 50 Jos√© Eber carts have opened so far, and sales have been brisk for Eber’s clipless curling iron. “Traditional curling irons cause a crimp line in the hair, and the hair gets burned where it was pressed along the barrel,” explains Ed Ball, executive vice president at TOL. Using the clipless model, the user “applies just the right pressure,” to avoid a crimp line or burning, Ball says. Eber also offers a straightener and wet-to-dry iron.
Elite Extensions, a retailer based in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, sells a wide range of hair extensions on 20 to 25 carts in Las Vegas and California. “We carry more than 60 different colors and extension lengths,” says co-owner Madaar Osman. “They range from half-synthetic/half-human [hair] to 100 percent human hair,” depending on what the customer wants. “We also have a new exclusive line, Remy, that features the finest hair that’s available in the industry.” Extensions run from $175 to $750, with human-hair extensions pricier than their synthetic counterparts.
“The human hair is by far the most popular, even though the price is higher,” Osman says. “When the ladies try it on and feel how natural the hair feels, they usually buy the product.”
Corioliss also offers a line of extensions with $250 to $300 price points that clip on and can be matched to virtually any hair color. Today’s woman demands flexibility, so “extensions come in 20 to 22 inches . . . and can be attached at the root line or cut-depending on the wearer’s preference,” Schueppl says.
Uniquely colored or dyed extensions have also hit the market recently. Funny Extensions, made by Silly Stuff, headquartered in Monument Beach, MA, wholesales a range of hair accessories, including two-toned, re-useable extensions that appeal to a variety of age demographics and can be sold year-round. The company has a start-up package that “instantly turns a kiosk or counter into a salon,” and includes DVD demonstration-video displays.
In Orlando, FL, wholesaler Hot Lockz has easy-to-apply dyed extensions in 20 vibrant colors and three distinct styles-straight, curly and braided. Using a clamp process that requires just a few minutes of training for salespeople to learn and doesn’t involve glue or weaving, Hot Lockz can be applied easily and quickly by salespeople without prior hairstyling experience.
Bringing them back
Many retailers offer “traditional” hair care products such as shampoos, serums and sprays designed to be used in conjunction with the styling tools they sell. This not only allows retailers to boost add-on sales, but to draw customers back to the cart when the consumable products run low. Now more than ever retailers are stocking products that are eco-friendly, organic or all natural.
Amika’s hair care line features organic olive oil and Moroccan argan oil, which repair hair damaged by blow drying, explosure in the sun and other hair stressors, rebuilding hair cells and promoting shininess.
“Deep conditioning at a salon costs anywhere from $80 to $150 for one time,” Kadosh says. Amika’s deep conditioner provides four or five treatments, at a suggested retail of $120. Amika also has a styling spray, hair cream, shampoo, conditioner and hair serum, plus a deep-conditioning hair mask, which Brosh reports is a big seller at Growing Rich carts.
Brosh’s customers who purchase a hair-styling tool receive a VIP card that allows them to return to the cart to have their hair styled for free. “We have two employees at the cart at all times, so one can work on a customer’s hair,” says Brosh, who notes that the free-styling promotion serves two purposes. The strategy brings the customer back to the cart to purchase additional products, and allows cart personnel to demonstrate how well the products work.
Some of Amika’s cart retailers take appointments to do customers’ hair (after they buy a straightener or other tool). “This eliminates the need for hawking people,” Kadosh says, adding that customers can return to have their hair styled an unlimited amount of times within a year of purchase. Each time the customer comes back for styling, “You have someone coming in who says, ‘Oh yeah, I bought that [straightener or curler], and it works great,’ which sells more products for you.”
Osman says Elite Extensions treats each of its carts as if it were a salon. “We hire hair stylists that are very experienced and licensed, and who work well with our clients,” to develop personal relationships just like millions of women have with their salon stylists, Osman says. “People feel more comfortable buying extensions from a stylist rather than a
regular sales associate.”
Many retailers round out their product selections by offering a range of unique and attractive decorative hair accessories that make traditional barrettes look so yesterday.
Pomchies, located in Phoenix, NV, wholesales washable, multicolored hair-ties that resemble cheerleading pompoms. Made from swimsuit material and available in 400 colors (with no minimum order), Pomchies have already caught on with the tween set. Best-selling colors include In the Pink, Party Girl, Fiesta Light, and color combos that match school or sports team colors. Bright colors are always a hit with the younger girls, says Pomchies’ owner Heather Logan.
Scottsdale, AZ-based Hair Diamond specializes in hair extensions and its namesake product, Hair Diamonds, includes accents that feature Swarovski crystals, faux gems and mock marble. The product can be sold individually or in sets ranging from 12 to 50 pieces.
Silly Stuff’s line is called Blinx-Bling and also contains Swarovski crystals. Products in the line include crystal wire extensions, crystal hairbengles (jewelry that dangles from the hair) and Beady Shifters hair beads.
Luminence sells crystal tresses, strands of Swarovski crystals and individual crystals that can be applied anywhere, but it’s the company’s Glowby that’s getting a lot of attention these days. A fiberoptic hair extension of sorts that glows; the tween set especially wears them to parties, proms and events-or just to look cool every day.
A new entry to the market this year is High Country’s Zhoe Accessories line, which includes unique double combs, quattros (they’re a headband, ponytailer, bracelet or necklace), TwistAbouts hair ties, and a variety of clips, barrettes, etc. Based in Rock Springs, WY, the company’s founder, Bridget Frame, created the new line, available in several collections: the Desert Collection, Coffee Bean Collection, Island Getaway Collection and the Tuxedo Collection for an upscale look.
Bringing it home
As the economy tries to find its footing, it’s no wonder that women are turning to specialty retailers for unique products that give them the salon-styled look without the salon-styled price tag. Plus, with many carts and kiosks offering extensive hair services-even free styling on a repeat basis-shoppers have a reason to come back again and again. Thanks in large part to the availability of so many new hair products and accessories, the market for specialty retail hair concepts is likely to grow significantly in the months and years ahead.
Jos√© Eber/TOL Products
Zhoe Accessories/High Country
Diva Designs USA
Michelle & Scott’s Wholesale Import
Rhinestone Jewelry Corp.