What Matters to Clients at Salons, Spas, and Wellness Businesses in the COVID-19 Era
By Katherine Wernet
The coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has transformed consumer expectations for beauty and wellness businesses. Though many salons, spas, and other wellness businesses have reopened after months of shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders, they continue to face many unknowns. Will it be possible to be profitable with such constraints on capacity for so long? What if beauty and wellness businesses have to close again for stay-at-home orders?
Through a series of surveys, we’ve tried to remove at least some of the unknowns about what clients are thinking. Read on to learn what they care about most when they’re looking to book services now.
How many consumers have booked beauty services during the pandemic?
For the most part, consumers have returned to salons and spas. In October, only 27% of Americans said they hadn’t received a beauty or grooming service since the pandemic began.* As a point of comparison: in the previous year’s Mindbody Wellness Index, 9% of Americans hadn’t gotten a service in the past year.
What types of beauty and wellness businesses are consumers comfortable returning to?
Back in May, we asked Mindbody app consumers what types of businesses consumers they were most comfortable going to when they reopened. Consumers were most comfortable with the prospect of returning to hair salons; 64% said they were comfortable returning. A majority (54%) were also comfortable returning to wellness businesses (acupuncture, chiropractic, acupressure, etc.).**
This year's Mindbody Wellness Index corroborates that comfort in salons; haircuts (39% got them) and colors (21%) are by far the most popular services during the pandemic. Businesses offering massages and nail salons are the next-most popular spots. Nineteen percent of Americans have received a massage since March, and 19% have gotten manicures/pedicures.
If your business is closer to the bottom of the graph, fear not! We’ve got some specific insights below about what can make your customers feel safe in returning (and protect all involved).
Will clients return to your salon, spa, or wellness business?
In May, we also asked Mindbody app users which beauty businesses they were planning to go to when the reopened. For the most part, consumers wanted to go back to the beauty professional they used before the coronavirus, but safety played a significant role. While 79% said they were planning on returning to the professional they saw pre COVID, 36% of consumers planned to go to the beauty professional with the safest environment. Minimizing risk and protecting client health is key to retaining existing clients and attracting new ones.
Among Mindbody app users who have not yet booked a service (as of September), safety becomes even more important. Forty-three percent say they’re looking to book with the safest professionals. Only sixty percent plan on returning to their pre-COVID spots. Salons and spas have a major opportunity to highlight their safety and take on new clients who are long overdue for services.***
What’s the most important action businesses can take to make clients comfortable?
Just what makes customers feel safe, though? We asked how important changes at a beauty business would be to a consumer’s decision to visit that business. Following rigorous cleaning guidelines is the most important measure that beauty businesses can take to help clients feel safe; over 90% of consumers following rigorous sanitization guidelines is an important deciding factor in whether or not to visit a beauty business once it reopens. Consumers also rate reducing the number of clients allowed in the business at once (no more walk-ins) and changes to the physical layout to follow social distancing guidelines in the top three attributes for post-coronavirus changes to businesses. And it’s definitely time to toss the communal magazines.**
Almost eighty percent additionally want to see employees wear protective face masks at beauty businesses. While getting the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) has been difficult for businesses, it’s crucial. We spoke with salon owners in Georgia, and they stressed how difficult it can be to source PPE, hand sanitizer, and necessary cleaning products.
The importance of a low-touch journey in the wake of the coronavirus
Consumers are looking for low/no touch in their in-store interactions. Sixty-nine percent believe eliminating the waiting room is an important safety measure post COVID-19 (just another reason why you’ll see salons and spas forego waiting rooms in the new normal). In addition, 55% say virtual check-in over the phone is important, 71% say developing processes to support contactless payments, 57% say enabling them to pre-pay for service and tip are important safety measures at beauty businesses.
Should your salon, spa, or wellness business go virtual for consultations?
Virtual consultations allow beauty and wellness businesses to make the most out of their constraints. While new to many clients and businesses alike, we’re sure to see increasing demand for them. Even now, 22% of consumers are interested in virtual consultations regarding skin care, and 14% of consumers are interested in virtual hair consultations. A quarter of consumers say they’d like virtual beauty classes or tutorials.** As these virtual experiences become more commonplace, consumers will be increasingly comfortable with a hybrid of initial consults and in-person services (allowing salons, spas, and wellness businesses to maximize profitability). Some businesses are even using these virtual consultations as a way to allow staff to catch up with their customers and answer any questions on COVID-19 changes and precautions. When the client arrives at the business, staff members can get right into the service—without losing the human connection.
Are salons, spas, and wellness businesses coming to their clients’ homes in the new normal?
In-home services are also on the rise, driven by consumer demand. Thirty-two percent of consumers are interested in having a stylist visit them at home, and 52% are interested in having a massage therapist visit come to them.**
What’s the best way to get clients back?
How can you make it even easier for clients to book appointments with your salon, spa, or wellness business? Re-booking is crucial. There’s no reason your stylists or service providers shouldn’t offer to re-book clients before they head out the door. After all, they’ve just been treated to a great service and had an excellent experience.
There’s a big opportunity for salons, spas, and wellness businesses to increase re-bookings at the business, too. About 13% of consumers typically re-book hair services at the salon following their appointment. Re-booking numbers are even smaller for waxing and hair removal services (7%), facials and skin care services (6%), massages (6%), and nail services (4%).***
If clients do make it out the door, make sure it’s easy for them to rebook on their own. Booking online is popular across all services—particularly for massages. Making sure your salon, spa has a website that’s easy to navigate and book directly from.
Texting is increasingly popular, too. Twenty-two percent of hair services are booked over text. Make sure texting is an option for your clients (and keep it streamlined for your team).
Other stats on booking methods:
- Hair services: Text (22%), website (18%)
- Facials/skin care: Text (12%), website (19%)
- Massages: Text (13%), website (22%)
- Waxing/hair removal: Text (12%), website (21%)
- Nails: Text (8%), website (12%)
Be sure you’ve got your business optimized as your customers look to get on your books.
It’s going to be different for a while, but the numbers don’t lie—consumers are returning to salons, spas, and wellness businesses. Make sure you prioritize making customers feel your space is safe. Prepare your entire team to answer their questions and let your clients know what the new protocols are. It’ll make the decision to return all the easier for them. The salons, spas, and wellness businesses that will thrive in the new normal will create low-touch journeys for clients on-site and maximize profit with virtual consultations and at-home experiences.
*Mindbody. “2021 Wellness Index.” October 2020.
**Mindbody. “COVID-19 App User Survey.” May 2020.
***Mindbody. “COVID-19 App User Survey.” September 2020.