Launching a new hair product line? Follow these proven steps to get your hair care brand startup seen!
Want to get your hair product sold in top hair salons and beauty product stores, or into the hands of celebrity hair stylists? As a new hair care brand, it will increase the success rate of your cold outreach tremendously if you can show brand credibility and a loyal customer base. Follow our guide to build brand awareness for your hair care startup and sell to hair professionals with ease!
Best Hair Care Startup Marketing Tips To Try in 2021
Design Your Product Packaging
If you want your hair care product to be sold in brick-and-mortar retail stores, it needs to fit on the shelf! The store can charge you based on the physical area your products take up, so keep this in mind when designing the size of your product.
Most importantly, regardless of whether you are selling your hair care brand online or in store, the products need to be eye-catching. Design your product to visually stand out amidst the sea of shampoo and hair conditioner bottles.
From the perspective of retail stores and hair salons, your product needs to be worth their space and on par with their brand image. It helps to bring sample products when you go for meetings, so that the store owners can visualize your product.
Prepare a Traveling Sales Kit
When you visit retail stores and hair salons to pitch your hair care product, equip yourself with all the necessary information to answer their questions. First impressions count, so go prepared!
A typical traveling sales kit can include:
1. Every type of product you carry, in both full size and sample size
2. Sales term (e.g. minimum order quantity, turnaround time, payment terms, shipping, exchange and return policy, etc.)
3. Line sheet
4. Product catalog with pricing
Pitch Your Hair Care Product to Salon Owners Directly
When you talk to a store employee, your product information will most likely not get passed on. You want to speak with the decision makers. This is typically the owner or manager of the salons. Leave a copy of your product information and samples with them, so that they can try the products. Follow up to see if they are interested in purchasing.
Find the Right Time to Pitch
Depending on the size of the establishment, your approach may be different. For bigger retail stores, you need to schedule a formal appointment ahead of time. For mom-and-pop hair salons, you can show up unannounced with your traveling sales kit. Just make sure that you pick a time when they are least busy, such as on a weekday morning. You don’t want to be a nuisance!
Target New Hair Salons
When you come up with the list of retail stores and hair salons you are targeting, categorize them by size, rank the priority level, and note which ones are new, or have recently undergone changes in management or ownership.
Since you are going to get better at your sales pitch over time, start with the ones that “you don’t mind not getting” as practice ground. Newly-opened, independent hair salons usually do not have a brand that they are locked in on, so it could be an easier sell. This way, by the time you get to the salons that you really want to feature your hair care products in, you will be a seasoned salesperson.
Come up with a Sampling Strategy
There are many different recipient groups that you can give samples to. Depending on the purpose of the sample, and who the recipients are, you may need to design the sample size and packaging differently. Therefore, it is good practice to plan out your sampling strategy before manufacturing.
Here are some common sample packaging sizes to consider in your sampling strategy:
- Foil packages are typically meant for one-time use. These are convenient for gifting to hair salons, retail stores, and hair stylists in bulk, because they can easily give these foil packages to their customers to bring home to try.
- Travel-size bottles generally last 2 to 3 uses. For retail outlets, these are good options to carry for customers who want to try the hair care product, or simply need it on-the-go. Another idea is to reach out to hotels looking for hair care toiletries. If you have many different types of hair care products, come up with a travel kit with a branded toiletry bag for sale as well as gifts.
- Medium-size samples can be tailored for a hair treatment cycle. For example, if your hair care products need at least 14 days for the results to show, design your medium-sized sample volume accordingly. This is helpful for paid trials and for new customers.
- Full-size samples are essentially the product that you are selling. When reaching out to celebrity hair stylists or hair salons, gifting them full-size samples will enable them to try your hair care product on themselves and their clients.
Build a Strong Social Media Presence
The more influence and credibility you have on social media, the more likely hair stylists, retail stores, and hair salons are going to take you seriously when you pitch to them, because they can see that you already have professional branding and a fan base.
If you’re posting generic photos and captions, no one is going to read them. Brands are all fighting for the attention of social media users, so if your content does not stand out, you’re missing out on the opportunity to establish a strong following and build your reach to convert future customers.
Put effort into your social media marketing strategy. Your social media accounts are powerful tools to communicate your brand philosophy, brand identity, products, and customer reviews. Think about the voice of your brand, what types of content you want to share, and decide on a brand color palette to make your social media feed look beautiful and cohesive. Once you have the content in place, engage with your followers by liking and responding to their comments, sharing user-generated content (UGC), and hosting promotional campaigns like giveaways and contests. Being on social media is only as valuable as you make it!
Collect Great Reviews from Your Customers
When you can show hair stylists, retail stores, and hair salons that customers already love your product, it makes your sales pitch so much easier.
How do you get real user reviews as a new hair care product brand? You can incentivize customers by giving them discounts or promo code towards their next purchase when they write a review. Feature their feedback and other UGC on your social media pages to make your customers feel valued and heard. This will in turn drive sales conversion, because the most effective way to convince potential customers is to show them that other people are vouching for it with their personal experience. In fact, 86% of customers read reviews before making a product choice, so make sure you repost stellar testimonials from happy customers.
Reviews can also come in the form of blog articles. It boosts your brand reputation when your hair care product is featured on lists such as “Our Favorite New Hair Care Products of January 2021” by Allure or “Top 10 Hair-styling Products for Men and How to Use Them” by Men’s Journal. Reach out to beauty bloggers and online editorials. When you introduce your hair care brand, briefly explain how your product is special, and why they should write about it. You can offer to send them sample products for a free trial too!
After the article is published, repost it to create social media buzz and increase the chances of other professionals in the hair industry noticing your brand.
Do a Paid Trial with a Hair Stylist
You can pay hair stylists to use your hair care product for a trial period. Give them enough time to experience the before and after transformation your hair product promises, so that they can give you an honest and comprehensive review. If they like your product, they might go on to recommend your brand to the salon they are working at, and their regular clients. Maybe they will even consider endorsing it and becoming your hair care brand’s ambassador!
When the hair stylist offers constructive criticism, be appreciative of their honesty and invaluable feedback. After you have improved your product, follow up again with free samples for the hair stylist to try again. The opinion of hair stylists carries a lot of weight, so even if they are not a fan of your product, you want to maintain a friendly work relationship.
Partner with a Celebrity
Develop a paid partnership with a celebrity and get advertisement to their audience! Partnerships can be costly, but you are paying for the celebrity association and instant media exposure. Hair vitamins brand SugarBearHair has paid partnerships with A-listers from Vanessa Hudgens to Kendall Jenner, and their brand has become a household name as a result.
Work with Social Media Influencers
When customers are asking for your hair care products, retail stores will definitely want to carry them. Make customers view your brand as both a necessity and a highly-desired commodity. In the age of social media, this translates to seeing their favorite influencers using your hair care products.
Depending on your marketing budget, there are many ways you can enlist influencers to help promote your brand. Especially for nano or micro influencers, they may be more willing to do barter collaboration, whereby you will send free product samples to the influencers. In exchange, they will post about your product and urge their followers to make a purchase, usually through an affiliated link or unique promo code.
Other influencer marketing ideas range from low-effort ones such as liking your post on social media, doing a shoutout and tagging your brand, to more extensive work like creating sponsored ad posts and product review videos. Try to identify influencers whose content style you like, and give them the creative freedom to post about your product, so that it feels more authentic.
Form Business Partnerships with Existing Brands
Research on other brands that share the same business values and ethos as you. Reach out to them to propose a brand collaboration initiative. The business partnership can come in the form of a special edition packaging, giveaway campaigns, product bundles, and more.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to limit yourself to partnering with other beauty product brands only. On the contrary, aim to find brands outside of your regular consumer circle, so that you can expand your reach to new, untapped markets.
From customer feedback surveys, to competitor analysis, gather quantitative and qualitative information about your hair care brand and products. These will help you determine your strengths and weaknesses, and guide you in making sound sales and marketing decisions. It will also help your product stay relevant. For example, if the majority of your social media followers belong to the age group of 18 to 25, target e-commerce platforms or retail stores that they will most likely shop at.
Build Subscription Services for Repeat Clients
Make a subscription service from the beginning to make it easy for your customers to repeat their order. Take it a step further by following up with a discount code after the purchase to remind them to re-order. Your product sales could easily double with refill reminders and auto-subscription.
Support a Cause
Donating time, product, or money to causes in need builds your brand’s reputation with potential customers. Starting small to partner with local charities is a great way to contribute while also building your brand reach. It creates visibility for your brand and can generate business leads and networking opportunities too.
Build Relationships with Celebrity Hair Stylists
Get your brand in the hands of celebrities and mentioned in the news by reaching out to celebrity hair stylists with gifts and samples. Like Meghan Thee Stallion’s $7 hair mist, your product can be front-page news if celebrity stylists likes it and uses it on their A-list clients. Many celebrity stylists also work with high profile salons which can stock your brand if they like your product and design.
Champion Your Product Niche
Hair care is a mature and saturated market, so you need to establish unique selling points for your hair care brand. As part of branding, emphasize what differentiates your product from others in all of your communication and marketing campaign. Ideally, consumers should be able to tell what is special about your product just from the brand name or packaging.
Launch a Pop-up Store or Event
Even if your hair care brand is only available online, you should consider in-person promotional activities such as sponsoring industry events, or getting a pop-up store in shopping malls. Having physical events can help generate social media buzz and increase your brand awareness. Furthermore, while e-commerce is popular, there are demographics that still prefer shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. This gives you an avenue to convert offline traffic to online sales.
Follow up with the customer
After you have successfully sold your hair products to hair stylists and salons, follow up regularly to ask for feedback. If the customer is not satisfied, be prompt in resolving the issue. They are essentially your extended sales team, so it is in your interest to make them number 1 fans of your hair care products. Do not wait to be asked to give samples, and offer discounts and promotional campaigns to help boost sales.
Nurture the Current Clients You Have
The initial group of followers you get are usually the most dedicated cheerleaders of your hair care brand. Look through the IG feed of the top users interacting with your posts. You might be pleasantly surprised to find hair enthusiasts and beauty influencers among them. DM these ardent fans, and offer discounts, samples of new products, and other freebies to encourage them to recommend your product to family, friends, and their followers. When they post about your hair care brand, reshare their UGC.