I think the retail side of the salon business is dramatically shifting. In 2008, salons sold over $2 billion in professional beauty products to their clients. The majority of these sales are coming from the top 20% of the salons that are located in metropolitan areas and have the capital to buy inventory. These salons are skilled at retailing and have the software systems and shelf space to make it profitable.
The other 80% of the salons out there are mainly booth-rental salons and independent hairdressers generally have less resources, inventory and expertise when it comes to retailing products. They are trained to be hairdressers and rightly so. Over 95% of clients visiting a salon buy a hair product within 24 hours of visiting a salon. So there are millions of dollars of sales walking out the door and into the grocery stores, CVS, and Target mass retailers looking for beauty products.
I think its a real shame that hairdressers are missing out on a potentially great secondary income while the mass retailers and consumer product giants benefit. In 2008, Proctor and Gamble, Alberto Culver and L'Oreal aggressively bought professional salon brands. See the link below. Interestingly, they are also buying the larger distributors as fast as they can.
What's going to happen is that salons are going to wake up one day to find that all their "professional brands" are now bought up by one these giant companies and they are no longer exclusive to the salon. You can't blame P&G, Alberto Culver and L'Oreal really because the independent hairdressers are not providing an efficient sales channel. These companies want to be able to rollout sophisticated promotions nationally and track inventory and use aggressive marketing techniques to track everything. With 1.3 million hairdressers in the USA this becomes a logistical nightmare.
What the beauty industry needs more than anything is to unite and create a viable sales channel that professional salon brands can use to quickly get to market and benefit the local hairdresser. Right now, salons and hairdressers are being taken advantage of by big brands. That needs to stop!