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Consumer Behaviour: Reactive or Proactive?

September 9, 2011

In an economic downturn, shopping behaviour and spending habits can change drastically. And although no one can be absolutely certain about the future, it doesn’t require a crystal ball to foresee that consumer behaviour will continue to shift for some time to come. For those businesses that are unable to respond with willow-like flexibility, mired down in their business-as-usual approach, they risk a long, slow, painful demise. Waiting for the storm to pass is really no strategy at all.

Rather than being reactive, hoping to stay afloat on simply a song and a prayer, “A-list” salons have a plan in place and are ready and willing to modify their business model when need arises. They watch their business closely, tracking figures, trends and fluctuations. By keeping their finger on the pulse of their business, “A-list” salons are able to monitor subtle changes in their client’s behaviour and adjust their offering accordingly.

Information is Power

If your salon/spa business is like many others in the country, experiencing a 10-15% drop in business, are you able to identify where the damage is being done? Are your regular clients coming less frequently? Are they spending less on retail or cutting back on services? If they have stopped purchasing retail products from you, are they purchasing them somewhere else or have they switched to a cheaper alternative? What percentage of your clientele is now coloring their hair at home? If you don’t know where the problem lies (ie: what changes in consumer behaviour are impacting you business), how can you expect to devise a strategy to fix it?

In addition to tracking your clientele’s purchasing patterns, it is also essential that you have a solid grasp of what your client base looks like. Where do they come from? What age group do they belong to? What are their expectations? How brand loyal are they? What are their likes and dislikes? Of course, everyone thinks they know their salon/spa clientele intimately, but you would be surprised how easy it is to be off the mark. If your positioning is built upon an idea of who your average client is, and you have tailored your service menu, retail offering and salon environment to please this fictional character, you want to be absolutely certain that your perception matches the reality. Knowing what makes your salon guests tick will not only help you compete more effectively in the marketplace, it will also keep your customers far more satisfied.

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