Spa Retail: Selling Hair and Scalp Care

When it comes to your spa’s boutique, remember the mane!



In 2012, the haircare product category totaled nearly $8 billion and ranked No. 25 on Nielsen’s Top 100 Retail Product Categories list. In short, if you are not currently retailing these hot-ticket haircare products in your spa, you’re missing out on a major opportunity for additional revenue.

Consumers of skin and body care are more likely to invest in achieving healthy, beautiful hair. So why send them elsewhere for their haircare products? Retail these items, and many clients will appreciate the opportunity for one-stop shopping. And adding hair products doesn’t have to be difficult or require you to hire any specialists. In fact, many of the same skincare manufacturers you currently stock offer haircare products that contain similar ingredients—and deliver similar benefits—to those you already use on your clients’ skin.

When adding any category of products to your existing offerings, however, several questions must be asked:

• How will these new products fit into your business model?
• How will you choose which products to carry?
• How will you go about making these sales?
• How will you display them in your current retail area?

Luckily, there’s no need to scratch your head in wonderment—DAYSPA has turned to haircare industry experts for the answers.

Weaving in Hair Care

If the closest you’ve gotten to haircare offerings is a five-minute scalp massage add-on, it may be time to consider a few updated options that can benefit both your clients and your bottom line.

“Skin doesn’t end at the forehead,” points out Repêchage executive vice president Shiri Sarfati. “For many spas, there was never a connection between the body and hair, but this is changing.” Sarfati contends that scalp-balancing hair masks and serums, applied in the treatment room or retailed, are rising in popularity among consumers.

Marc Zollicoffer, director of professional spa education and sales for Aveda, agrees that hair should not be neglected on a modern spa service menu. “Treating a client should be about the whole body, from scalp to sole,” he says. “The hair is an extension of the rest of the body, and a healthy scalp translates to healthy hair.”

Adding this dimension also expands your “spa appeal,” says Toni Wells, brand director for Number 4 Hair Care. “Hair care broadens your repertoire—and your conversations with clients who may be open to suggestions about using these products to improve their overall well-being.”

In the same way that you provide prescriptive solutions for skin care, many lines lend themselves to tailored solutions for common hair problems. For instance, “Our spa treatments are formulated to begin normalizing the specific hair, scalp or skin condition,” explains Teresa Brown, licensed esthetician and regional sales manager for hair- and skincare company Malibu C. “And each has a coordinating system for the client to use at home in between spa visits.”

Rooting Out a Line

Which haircare line should you adopt for your spa? To choose, start by examining the types of products you already support. Is yours a trendy spa, an organic spa, a medical spa? Depending on your facility type, you will naturally gravitate toward certain brands and ingredients. Choose a line that mirrors your existing business’ mission and style. (Start by looking at any hair lines offered by your current skincare vendors, which can save you money.)

Industry experts agree that spa owners would be wise to start slow, bringing in just one line that makes sense among your other product offerings. Highlighting a single line will also make selling easier for your staff. “Offer a pared-down collection,” advises Sarfati. “Combine an in-spa treatment with two at-home styling products—it doesn’t make sense to bring in 20 SKUs of products that you aren’t demonstrating during services. In other words, show and tell, and you will sell!”

Understandably, clients who are familiar and satisfied with a certain skincare line will feel more inclined to try that same company’s haircare products. And spa staffers need to be able to make that connection as well. “Our spa’s clients have become more ingredient-savvy in recent years, and our integrity is reliant upon our knowledge of ingredients in every hair, scalp and skin product we use and sell,” says Carmen Delgado, C.I.D.E.S.C.O, owner of Carmen Delgado’s Oasis Spa & Salon in Bloomington, Indiana.

While you may initially be tempted to offer a variety of haircare lines, Malibu C’s Brown cautions against trying to be everything to everybody. “Limit your brands to those that solve problems and are necessary for styling the hair after spa services,” she advises. “Focus on your core competency of providing wellness services that are solution-driven.”

Cutting a Deal

If your clients already trust your advice, you are in the best possible position to start a sales conversation with them. And for spa practitioners, these clients comprise a captive audience. Yes, it isn’t advisable to feed anyone a sales pitch while they’re relaxing in the treatment room—but it is completely appropriate to let them know which types of products you are using on them and why. This helps set up the sale, which should occur in your retail area, after the treatment. “When spas brand their staff members as wellness experts to address clients’ total-body wellness, it establishes a natural, open dialogue to address haircare needs,” Brown points out.

This type of communication is always the key to driving retail sales. “Upgrade your client’s service with a prescriptive scalp treatment and talk about what you’re doing and why,” Sarfati says. “Explain the benefits and ingredients.”

“Lotions can be a great place to start a conversation,” says Wells. “If the client enjoys a certain fragrance, recommend the hair products that go with it.” She also suggests placing “tip sheets” in the bathroom on how to create particular looks, listing the products needed to help achieve each.

Perhaps most importantly, treatment providers should pull products used during the service and meet the client afterward at the front desk. And if therapists are back-to-back booked? “Pull the products and have the front desk person close the sale,” Sarfati advises.

Keep in mind that, similar to skincare problems, many hair and scalp conditions, such as itching and flaking, cannot be normalized in a single service. “Prescribing products such as at-home weekly treatments that help provide lasting relief will keep clients coming back to us instead of seeking treatments elsewhere,” says Delgado.

Aveda’s Zollicoffer reminds that maintenance is key when it comes to taking care of hair—just as it is with the rest of the body. Says Zollicoffer, “If a doctor didn’t help a patient with back problems to self-treat the issue daily, it would be a challenge for the patient; part of our job is to effectively communicate the reasons for maintenance. For instance, the scalp needs to be massaged two to three minutes every day to maintain benefits achieved at the spa.”

Hands-On Hair

When it comes to haircare retail space, there are a couple of schools of thought. One is to carve out room specifically for hair care, featuring just a few products that complement your services. If your hair- and skincare brands are the same, though, experts recommend placing those collections beside each other. This can encourage sales from loyal brand fans.

Samples are a big trend right now, but sample packs given to a client on her way out the door won’t earn you the sale. Sarfati says the most effective ways to sample include setting up a testing station near the reception desk, and offering mini treatments that take less than 30 minutes. “Quick, mini services are the perfect way to introduce solutions and entice clients to book longer treatments and purchase products,” she says.

Consider displaying hair care inside the treatment room—and elsewhere. “Don’t forget to place haircare products in bathroom and shower areas,” suggests Wells. “And remind clients with signage that the products are available for purchase.”

However, Zollicoffer reminds, sales will still boil down to the conversations therapists initiate during treatment. After all, you and your staff are already your guests’ wellness and beauty advisors. Help them to extend their beauty regimen at home to their hair, and many will become even more loyal spa clients.

Liz Barrett is an Oxford, Mississippi-based writer and editor.

More in Business