Industry News

The State of Men's Hair: Reflections on ABS

Ivan Zoot | March 25, 2013 | 5:27 PM

I spent two days on the floor of the  2013 America’s Beauty Show in Chicago.  This was the first time in 23 years that I have not set up a booth and worked this show.  It felt a bit weird.  Sort of as though on Friday when I would have been setting up and Saturday, the opening day of the show, I was missing out on something.

I hit the floor early on Sunday and again on Monday.  This time I was an attendee.  I was there as a licensed cosmetologist and a licensed barber.  Yes, I did some work as Mr. Marianna.  I visited with vendors and had some important meetings.  Then I was there to stalk the floor and learn what I could in the world of men’s hair.  Following are my observations about the state of men’s hair in the professional beauty industry, in no particular order, just my observations.

Clipper graphics have moved on.  Graphics are still popular, but they are no longer a guy trend.  Clipper graphics have now become predominately female.  I observed many women and girls with graphics.  Most of the graphics being demoed on the clipper stages were being parked on the heads of females.  Fewer guys had visible graphics.  Ever fewer still were sitting for a new one.  The trend has clearly peaked, and moved on from the guys.

The State of Men's Hair: Reflections on ABSGuy hair is getting longer.  Fades were over in the urban ethnic markets more than a year ago.  This trend is catching up in the general market.  All of the collection cuts at American Crew featured longer tops.  The Cowboy collection was much longer overall.

There is more to guy cutting than just clippers - The dominant tools of longer men’s looks are shears and razors.  There is still plenty of clipper work to be done but guy haircutting is definitely a three tool game.  Rougher interior textures are becoming more popular and the texture created by razor cutting is seen frequently.

The Guy product game is full. We do not need more products.  We need to do more with the products we have.  There are plenty of guy specific products to choose from.  I do not think I saw a single new men’s product.  If one was there, the manufacturer failed to make an impression.  There are many opportunities to re-imagine the use of what you have at your fingertips.  It does not matter if you are working with a men’s specific brand, guy products from a broader line or even just guy appropriate products from a general brand.  I will have more on this in a separate blog, coming soon.  Stay tuned.

Brands need to do a better job of connecting with the stylist community.  There is so much noise.  Literally, shows are too loud.  Figuratively, the communication channels are crammed with information, most of it of little real value.  Brands need to figure out how to connect with their tribes in meaningful ways. Shotgun blasts to the entire industry resonate with no-one.  Laser beams projected at YOUR tribe can have real impact.  From my years on trade show floors I am aware that if a show has 20,000 attendees over a weekend I typically directly impacted only a fraction of them.  Perhaps on a good weekend between 10 and 15% (optimistically).  Brands need to find ways to use the social media connections that they hammer 365 days of the year to create real engagement on the three days of the show.  One manufacturer that I follow posted a facebook message and told followers to show the post at the booth on their phone to receive a FREE gift.  It should go beyond couponing.  Wouldn’t it be cool if a manufacturer posted all of their models before shots from the prep room on Saturday to social media so that when they present work on stage on Sunday and Monday followers can really see the differences?

I enjoyed my time at ABS.  It was a more tiring day on my feet as an attendee that it ever was all day as a presenter.  Attending is much more work.  I have six classes over three days at Premiere, Orlando.  Check in with me after that show to see how I am feeling and if that theory still holds up.

Happy clippering.


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