Gender fluidity in fashion and beauty has been on industry radar for a couple of years. Now, gender-neutral pricing is hitting the salon industry. We break down what it means for your business.
Last year, Fady Assaad, owner of Hair Junkie in Ottawa, was one of the first beauty business entrepreneurs in Canada to implement a gender-neutral pricing strategy. What was the motive behind the change in price structure for his successful salon?
“For years, people complained about the laundry business. Why should a woman’s blouse be more expensive to clean than a man’s shirt? It’s the same thing for hair,” says Assaad. “If the client is spending more time in your chair, they should just be charged more. It’s that simple. So, hair length (and not gender) is now the deciding factor in our pricing strategy.”
Because Hair Junkie is also a Summit salon (where there are up to five stylist levels), pricing also reflects these levels of expertise. For example, a cut for short hair can vary between $30 to $65, depending on the level of the hairstylist.
A Welcome Change
In Toronto, Dat Salon also implemented this new “genderless” pricing strategy earlier this year. And there, too, pricing is set according to hair length and a combination of years of experience and talent/skills. “My stylists suggested this in the summer of 2017, mentioning that as a young and trendy salon, we should think of implementing gender-neutral pricing. I looked into it and decided it was a great idea, but wanted to wait until January 1 to have the changes take effect,” says owner and hairstylist Dat Tran.
“The idea was to create more equality for our clientele,” he says, “of being able to accept and implement current changes that are happening in our environment. The reaction from our clients has been very positive.”
Same thing at Hair Junkie, where existing clients love the fact that they can now drop in for a super quick 15-minute free (yes, F-R-E-E) fringe trim, which is billed at a $10 flat fee for “soon- to-be-clients.” “We also noticed a lot of clients still rock those undercuts but don’t want to pay for a full-priced haircut when they just need a clipper trim, so we added that to our services menu at the rate of $10 to $20, depending on the stylist’s level,” says Assaad.
The Bottom Line
But beyond pleasing forward-thinking clients and millennials, has the gender- neutral pricing strategy been a positive one for the salon’s finances?
“Of course, with every change comes the possibility that people won’t understand and question it,” says Assaad. “And honestly, we don’t want to work with an unhappy client, either. We launched our new pricing policy during Pride week in August 2017, and that immediately magnetized a younger crowd. We capitalized on that on social media and it was an excellent move that brought in new people.”
Tran echoes those sentiments. “Our team is definitely making more money. It’s easier to adjust the price when you are looking at hair length and the work involved in creating the coveted look,” he says.
Assaad adds that his stylists’ time slots are filling up with bookings for undercuts, bangs and beards. “It’s often a lot of clean-up work that doesn’t require a full haircut. These $15 services are great because you can add more clients between more elaborate haircuts or colour services.”
“Opportunities are always there. You just have to be different and keep changing,” says Assaad. “Bad bosses drive good staff out of the salon. Grow your people, lead by example.”