Crisis Talks: How to Survive a Recession

January 26, 2023

Elena Lavagni, of Neville Hair & Beauty, offers advice on how to cope with the looming recession… 

The Great Recession of 2008 and the current risk of a recession in 2023 have a lot in common, but they are also quite different –particularly when it comes to hairdressing salons. In the last recession, the main challenge for salons was to adjust to a decrease in spending, as consumers had less money to spend due to the high rate of unemployment. This time however, the challenge is much more complicated and involves changing consumer attitudes, an online-driven market, and the implications of the post Covid-19 pandemic.

To survive a potential upcoming recession, salons need to stay innovative and ahead of the trends, as well as adjusting to the demands of their customers. Firstly, we need to acknowledge that consumer attitudes and spending habits have fundamentally changed. Prior to the pandemic, our industry was witnessing a large shift away from indulgences and luxuries towards products that promise wellness, health and convenience. After the pandemic, these trends are emphasised, as people turn their attention to self-care and look for at-home services, hence the emergence of self-employed stylists and home service apps.

To stay competitive and adapt to the changes, salons need to focus on aspects of their service that cannot be achieved at home – such as professional treatments, difficult colouring techniques and blow-dries without using tools. The industry needs to encourage a general return to old-fashioned hairdressing crafts, a time when the hairdresser was the expert, not a beauty editor, or an influencer! More importantly, we need to stop giving trade secrets away on Instagram as a desperate plea to gain more followers; the people that choose to follow advice on how to blow-dry their hair at home are not going to be your clients in the future.

Next, salons need to adjust to the demands of the digital landscape. As many consumers now shop and book services online, the expectations for salons are raised. To ensure that salon customers continue to return, owners need to focus on creating an online presence, invest in a digital marketing strategy and offer a seamless booking system; businesses must be present on all platforms. In order to build loyalty and engage with clients, salons must also invest in video content and virtual consultations.

Finally, salons need to stay ahead of the competition. The industry is becoming more competitive, with more self-employed stylists, salons and home-service apps entering the space to serve the growing demand. To succeed in thriving, salons need to continuously monitor their competition; they need to be able to adapt quickly and creatively. This could involve focusing on niche services and using new technology, or partnering with influencers and brands to attract more customers. Thinking outside the box is the buzzword, but you need to stay relevant in hair and beauty.

The potential upcoming recession poses unique challenges for salons, but there are ways to make it through. To survive the downturn, salons need to be aware of the changing consumer attitudes, adjust to the demands of the digital landscape, and stay ahead of the competition with innovative strategies.

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