Nearly 3,000 hairstylists and beauty professionals travelled to Vienna, Austria in September for the 2019 Global Zoom event. Laura Dunphy had the chance to attend and chat with Cory Couts, global president of KAO’s salon division (including Goldwell, KMS and Oribe), to discuss industry changes, along with KAO’s exciting plans for 2020.
Congratulations on an amazing event, Global Zoom 2019. And Amsterdam is a fabulous choice for next year!
Thanks. It was really good, wasn’t it? We were able to showcase the couture collections, creative awards, KAO Salon Global Experience—a whole new branding for everything.
Can you elaborate on the KAO Salon Global Experience?
The name Global Zoom is being retired, and it will now be the KAO Salon Global Experience. The roots started with Trend Zoom, which was a photo-based competition and, of course, there’s a live competition element, but zoom is a photography associated word and we’ve grown beyond that.
[Attendees] are not coming in saying ‘that was a good show.’ They’re not saying ‘ good competition’, overall, they say, ‘That was a great experience.’ So it just makes sense to call it the KAO Salon Global Experience.
How’s the past year been for you? What were the big accomplishments over the last year?
A big accomplishment for us over the past year was obviously Pure Pigments, which we spent a lot of time on last year, and the entire Elumenation story. We re-focused a lot on Elumen with the introduction of Elumen Play, which has been huge for us. People are loving the product. Making a semi-permanent colour isn’t the hardest thing in the world, but making a semi-permanent colour that gives you shine and fades to tone is not easy. So we wanted to make sure that whatever we provided in semi-permanent was worthy of the name Elumen.
What kind of changes have you seen in the salon world?
I think there are some things that haven’t changed. So if you take a look at the things that haven’t changed as the base, the in-salon experience and the need to have a really great consultation, and the need to have really great skills is the baseline that hasn’t changed. What has changed is possibly your work environment, or how you get customers. So, obviously, in social media, you have the opportunity to get more customers in the door. My fear is that people are getting more customers in the door, but if they’re not working on their consultation and skills, they’re going to be turning and burning. I’m just hoping that the hairdressers now that are really active on social media and getting people in are also thinking about retention and keeping the customer. How we get customers has changed. The working environment is changing and, in some cases, the way hairdressers and customers are buying their product is changing. The secret will be, how do we address all of these different things, and still keep the hairdresser in the salon in the centre of everything. And this is another place where I think we have a point of difference is that we’re constantly asking ourselves, ‘How is the salon going to win?’ We always say, ‘We win second. The salon has to win first.’
Are you sensing a bit of a stylist shortage out there in salons?
There’s always been a shortage of good people. Part of the challenge is the reputations hairdressers have in certain countries, culturally. So if you take a look at Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and Canada, people really regard hairdressers pretty highly. In Germany, there’s still super low pricing for salon services in general and there’s not culturally an esteem that goes along with hairdressing. That makes it harder to attract people in the industry, because the pricing is low, which means pay tends to be lower. It would be nice if the manufacturers, magazines and everyone got together to create more of a promotional campaign to show kids what it’s like. We’re not telling enough of the stories of the people who become really successful.
What keeps you up at night?
When I think about what keeps me up at night, and I tell my team this all the time, I never worry about the competition. I only lose sleep over what we could be doing better. We’ve identified that we’re good at relationships, we’re good at innovation, and we’re good at adding value to salons. And we just keep doubling down on that intersection.