By Scott Nichols, salon GM and consultant
Many of us reading this article can probably say they bought a new TV in the past few years. The big excitement in recent years is the 4K TVs that will give you the best picture imaginable. Today’s prices are much more affordable than what they were when the first came out. For a few hundred dollars, you can now watch TV in 4K, compared to the thousands of dollars they used to cost when they first came out.
When the 4K TVs first came out, there was a small customer base for them, but now since they lowered their price, their customer base grew substantially.
This reminds me of many tanning salons when sunless booths first came out. There were salons that would sell one single session for nearly $60. Today, you can find tanning salons that sell that same session for only $10. But, is lowering the cost of the session to build your customer base a good thing? That’s the question!
Taking a long, good look at your customer base and ask yourself these questions. Are you looking to grow your customer base because it has been stagnated for the past few years? Is your average customer age growing per year due to the younger generation not coming in? What is your plan today, right now, to building a new customer base? Lastly, is your marketing geared toward one demographic specifically – so you are missing out on a certain age group, or are you using the same marketing for someone that is 18 and someone that is 55 years old? In both cases, it won’t work.
Let’s first start off with our customer that is in the 18-24 age group. This customer may be in school, yet looking for a job, may have more than one-part time job or is finally looking to start a career. None of these situations screams money. What it does scream is student loans and lower part-time paying job. Tanning salons need to decide – do I go after this market, or do I just concentrate on the 25 and up age group?
If you decide to market towards the 18-24 age group, you must know and understand that they are a different customer than everyone else that walks in your salon. You need to market to them differently, price certain packages and memberships to fit their pocket book and finally make it all about them, because they like to feel special.
Just like the 4K TV, if you are trying to sell them a tanning package or membership and they saw it half off last month, they will wait to buy it or go somewhere else. The big problem with this is something will pop up on their phone, and as much as you want to think that we are still on the top of their mind – you’re not. Having a program specifically toward this age group is a must. When they come in, they want to be in a tanning bed or do a sunless booth within the 30 seconds of walking in your front door. You need to have your “student program” ready for them to buy right away.
The best thing you can do is to find a way to get this age group in your doors. It is a great investment in the future of your business.
Problems can occur with the age group 25 and up when they see special pricing for someone else. I want you to know this is okay if you handle it correctly. This demographic is fine with paying more when there is more value in what the customer is buying. For example: Let’s say you are selling a college student a sunless session for $10 but are going to charge someone that is older $20 for that same session. In this situation, the older customer might get upset and think, “why does this person receive a discount and I don’t?” A great thing you can do is add value such as free moisturizing spray during your session or discount on some products.
Just know that lowering your price for everyone is not the best answer. Having lower prices and having more people tanning will kill your margins. Find ways to market towards each age group to fit the needs the customer wants along with fitting your needs as the salon owner.
Getting to know your customer is a great thing to do. Times are changing and so are your customers. Put yourself in their shoes and take an unbiased approach to what they are thinking. Ask yourself the simple question, “if I was this person, would I buy this package or membership?” If the answer is troubling or confusing, then it is time to change your pricing to meet that demographic. Work hard on getting that customer in the door but work even harder to get them to return. This industry is still alive and, your salon can do well!