What Matters to Clients as Salons, Spas, and Wellness Businesses Reopen
By Amaya Becvar Weddle
The coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has transformed consumer expectations for beauty and wellness businesses. Across the globe, as salons, spas, and other wellness businesses look to reopen after months of shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders, they face many unknowns. What will the business look like with social distancing in place? Will it be possible to be profitable with such constraints on capacity? Will employees be anxious about coming back? Will your customers be ready to return in the midst of this pandemic?
We surveyed Mindbody app users to learn what’s important to them when they look to book services at their favorite salons, spas, and wellness businesses once again.
What types of beauty and wellness businesses are consumers comfortable returning to?
We asked what types of businesses consumers are most comfortable going to when they reopen. Consumers are most comfortable with the prospect of returning to hair salons; 64% say they’re comfortable returning. A majority (54%) are also comfortable returning to wellness businesses (acupuncture, chiropractic, acupressure, etc.).
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?
For the most part, consumers want to go back to the beauty professional they used before the coronavirus. In fact, 79% said they’re planning on doing so. Minimising risk and protecting client health is important, though; 36% of consumers will choose to go to the beauty professional who creates the safest environment. Only 5% say they’ll go to “whoever will take my appointment first.”
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 once it reopens. 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 sanitisation 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 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.
To mask or not to mask?
Seventy-nine percent additionally want to see employees wear protective face masks at beauty businesses. Consumers are slightly less concerned with face mask requirements for fellow clients; 74% say it’s an important factoring in deciding whether or not they will visit a salon or spa.
Getting the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) has been difficult for businesses. We spoke with salon owners who reopened in Georgia, and they urged businesses that are not yet open to put effort into sourcing PPE, hand sanitiser, and necessary cleaning products as soon as possible.
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.
Which beauty and wellness services are consumers most eager to book?
Hair salons and barbershops are already seeing pent up demand with customers clamoring to get on reopening waitlists. Unsurprisingly, haircuts are the most in-demand service (the at-home attempts just aren’t CUTTING it) with 38% saying this is the first beauty stop. Hair coloring is also in high demand; 19% say this is the first service they’ll be getting. Forty-five to 64 year-old consumers are particularly keen on having a professional tend to their color straight away. Great news for barbers and hair stylists!
When it comes to wellness services, consumers are looking to get a massage first. Chiropractic care comes in second, suggesting that perhaps all that working from home has had less than stellar ergonomics. Despite these being high-touch services, consumers are looking forward to getting them as soon as possible. Coronavirus or not, many think it’s time to get BACK!
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 newfound 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 maximise 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 hair stylist visit them at home, and 52% are interested in having a massage therapist visit come to them.
What will consumer spending look like in the wake of COVID-19?
While the majority (59%) expect their beauty spending to stay the same, 9% expect it will increase when they start visiting beauty businesses again. Twenty-eight percent expect their spending will decrease. Of those who expect to spend more, 56% attribute the increased spending to being overdue for certain services. Top reasons for spending less are ongoing COVID-19 concerns (28%) and being able to handle some services at home without a professional (24%). The top services consumers plan on continuing to handle at home are makeup, facials, and manicures and pedicures.
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? About 26% of consumers typically book hair services after their appointments, at the business, so it’s likely those will need to be rescheduled. What’s the most common way consumers are looking to reschedule? For hair services, it’s text message (22%) and online via a website (21%).
Other stats on booking methods:
- Facials/skin care: Text (9%), website (24%)
- Massages: Text (12%), website (29%)
- Waxing/hair removal: Text (8%), website (18%)
- Nails: Text (8%), website (13%)
Notably, the phone is one of the lowest channels, with only about 6% of consumers saying they use this channel. 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 eager to return to salons, spas, and wellness businesses. Make sure you prioritise 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 maximise profit with virtual consultations and at-home experiences.
Mindbody. “COVID-19 App User Survey.” May 2020.