Great new marketing concept bridges beauty and retail worlds!

Professional salon and spa products have long had a challenge; the manufacturers exist to sell products, and of course they’d like to sell more and more of them.  But many manufacturers of professional beauty products have always treaded carefully so as not to alienate the salons and spas, and licensed professionals, who use the brands in service and recommend them to clients.

Today’s Women’s Wear Daily reports that a deal has been struck between Bumble & Bumble and Sephora, enabling the prestige retailer and the salon powerhouse to share clients, and further the reach of both companies.  Beginning this fall, Bumble’s professional hair care products will be merchandised at 10 Sephora locations across the country, with half of these stores receiving an interactive touch screen which will feature product and brand information.  But the really interesting part is that the displays will list nearby Bumble & Bumble network salons who will redeem a $20 gift card, for use on hair services only, that the client will receive upon the purchase of 2 full-sized Bumble products at Sephora.

Sephora is, at least for now, not planning to offer beauty services to their clientele, so this solves a problem for them; they gain a professional line, and the participating salons who carry that line receive a new feed of clients.  This is not the first cross-promotional initiative that Bumble has engaged in; last year, Bumble opened Bb. StylingBar at the flagship Bloomingdales in NYC, where customers could walk up and get a blow dry, or learn about Bumble products.  Bumble reported a 17% increase in new clients at their nearest salon within one month of the opening of the styling bar.  Bumble will in the future be offering both the styling bar, and a version of the Sephora concept called, to salons as well.

This idea shows that both companies are willing to think outside the box and assume some risk with their reward; salon clients might start shopping at Sephora, but conversely, Sephora clients may re-purchase the products at the professional location instead.

So, we'll see what the results are.  With only 10 Sephora stores nationwide participating, out of almost 1000, both companies will be able to evaluate the outcome before rolling the program out to more locations.  Cheryl Santucci, director of beauty and retail for Mario Tricoci Hair Salons and Day Spas, commented that the program may drive service sales, but salon and spa management have to train their staffs to make sure that they are selling the products to the consumer the next time.  So, as is so often the case, get your sales training plans in order.  No doubt, skincare will be next.

I'd love to know whether you think this is a great idea, or a scary one, for the salon and spa industry.