November 5, 2020 Published by

The Professional Beauty Association presented part two of its virtual Executive Summit, further exploring its 2020 theme of “The Road to Reinvention.”

The summit, which continued the organization’s pivot to a digital format due to COVID-19 restrictions, featured deep insights on “Beauty in the Age of COVID,” presented by Denise Herich, co-founder and managing partner of The Benchmarking Company.

To assess the patterns and behaviors of the beauty industry through the age of COVID-19, The Benchmarking Company interviewed over 13,000 consumers and over 450 salon professionals. Key findings included:

• 40% of women respondents are pampering themselves more to reduce stress.
• When it comes to what she wants from Beauty and Personal Care Brands, 89% said free delivery of products; 45% want kits for specific beauty needs; 45% desire self-curated beauty boxes; 40% want curbside pick up; 40% want DIY kits to achieve customized looks; and 32% want subscription refills for basic personal care products.

• They’re spending more time online—and online shopping—than pre-COVID, but spending the same or less on beauty.

• 42% of stylists have clients coming in less frequently than pre-pandemic; 82% of consumers report their salon is still in business, 5% said their salon is no longer in business, while 13% don’t know.
• 37% shared that when they return to the salon, they will want to have their service done as quickly as possible so they’re not lingering there, and 28% expect that fees will increase.
• 10% of stylist respondents have permanently lost their jobs and 11% are still out of work, due to state or government mandates. 79% say they’re back at work, but 59% share they’re working fewer hours and 73% report their earnings have dropped, compared to pre-COVID-19.
• 34% shared that the pandemic has made them reevaluate their career choice.

Key takeaways for recovery planning:
1. Clients will continue to shop online first, faster in-person second.
2. Think outside of the box: Clients will go to the salon less frequently and when there, want a high-touch experience.
3. Be prepared for permanent changes in consumers’ habits.
4. Personalization is expected in services and products.
5. Clean+safe is everything. Keep your protocols visible to ease clients’ concerns.

Following The Benchmarking Company’s presentation, an insightful panel discussion focused on consumer behavior. Panelists included Yene Damtew, Aesthetics Salon owner; Bertrand Fontaine, president of SalonCentric, A Division of L’Oréal USA; Stefan Mund, regional head, Henkel Beauty Care Professional North America; and Christina Russell, CEO of Sola Salon Studios & The Woodhouse Day Spas. These pros openly discussed pressing topics about the challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, including what they’ve done to reinvent their business models and how they plan to continue growth opportunities while preparing for an unsure future. They shared valuable insights regarding consumer behavior in their respective fields, and on why reinvention has become a necessity for stability and growth during the pandemic.

Said Stefan, “COVID-19 has not changed consumer trends and future behaviors. Rather, it has accelerated changes in our industry six or seven years. I see the crisis as an opportunity for us, when we remain authentic and consistent across all channels.”

Key takeaways from the panel:
• Leaders must be authentic, consistent, vulnerable, transparent and flexible during times of uncertainty, both internally and externally.
• Regular and frequent communication with customers about the changes being made at your brand, distributorship or salon is key. Keep them in the know about your safety measures, use marketing to share how you’re operating, and highlight your focus on safety and cleanliness.
• The biggest challenge for the industry is to make sure your salon or brand has a consistent message across all channels.
• The industry needs to be ready to move technology to new levels—the beauty industry has always been behind in technology, but now it’s important to catch