This past weekend, yours truly attended the ABA’s in Toronto. It is “the hair show” to go to. It is the place to be to find out about the latest techniques in color placement and cuts, this year courtesy of non other than Guy Tang. It is also the place to be to find and purchase products…or so I thought. For those of you familiar with my Salon Tales and my private Salon Consultations, you are well aware that I am a firm believer in the importance of retailing products in the Salon. This past weekend, I had an unusual experience, a recollection that I cannot seem to shake, and quite honestly baffles me. Today’s tale is for the distributor’s, managers and sales reps.
At the ABA’s, every distributor and company has their own booth or booths, displaying their product lines, demonstrations of products, color placement and cuts are around every corner, and every booth has a cash register for the sole purpose of purchasing said products. One of my fellow attendee’s, who shall remain nameless, loves the Peter Coppola Infusion Anti Frizz Cream – a lovely lightweight, moisturizing cream that locks out frizz and keeps your hair smooth, sleek and shiny until your next shampoo. (…it is also a beautiful shade of pink and smells heavenly). So, I took her over to the display, picked up a bottle of it, noticed there was not a price displayed, so I took it over to the cash register and asked “Excuse me. We would like to purchase this product. Do you happen to have the price?” to which a Sales Rep. came up to the counter and asked me what I was doing. I let this gent know we wanted to buy the product and were wondering the cost. “Oh, that product is not for sale. It is display only.”. “So, I can’t buy a bottle?” I asked. “No, it’s display only.”, he took the bottle and walked away. Yes, you read that correctly, I was at a trade show, that promotes products for Salons to use and purchase and I was not able to purchase said product. …also, not once did said Rep. offer me any information on the product, he just walked away. Poor soul, if he had asked, or tried to speak to me he would have realized that I manage a shop with over 25 retail lines and the women I was with had a lot of purchasing power and many, many Salon connections, all over the province. I started looking around at the other booths and seeing the same thing – all product lines were displayed, but not all the products displayed were available for purchase. This got me thinking… a lot.
In our industry, many times than not, Salon owners, managers and stylists are blamed for the lack of retail sales. While this may be true in some circumstances, I have a question – how do distributor’s expect Salons and Stylists to grasp the importance of retailing products when the distributor’s themselves aren’t retailing/selling the products? Yes, we were at a trade show, and yes, it was just one product. Take a moment and look at the bigger picture. One person purchases a product, loves it, tells her Salon about it, they bring it in and next thing you know, every client has tried it, had it in their hair and the potential of 5 – 10+ bottles a week are being bought from the distributor and purchased by clients at the Salon. Plain & simple. It also had me wondering, how many other people had the same experience as yours truly, and how many potential sales, present and future were lost, to never be recovered? This is not how retailing is supposed to work. Retailing starts with a conversation, that turns into an explanation of the product, which turns into the value of the product being understood, which ends with a purchase. How do I know? This is how I have personally introduced new lines and new products to the owner of the shop, the Salon’s clients and the Salon & shop’s customers. Everyday.
I didn’t like “look but don’t touch” when I was 5, I really don’t enjoy it now.