The Goods Luxe Life
Nail leader OPI has gone carriage trade with its new Designer Series nail lacquer line, which contains diamond dust for a 3-D shine.
Says OPI Executive Vice President and Artistic Director Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, “Brand identity is huge now; people are attached to the names. We enter the prestige world of couture, and nails are accessories that complete a look.” The polishes are highly saturated with pigment for exceptional color intensity, so a client can see the difference. Weiss-Fischmann recommends designing a luxury manicure around the new polishes, complete with extras like paraffin treatments and a neck and shoulder-massage, which can add $15 to $25 to your usual manicure tab.
Luxury tools are also making news. FHI’s Heat flatiron, for instance, carries a suggested retail price of $400.
The company’s Artistic Director Les Haverty says, “This is the Cartier of the flatiron world.” It certainly sports every technology advance: a ceramic heating system with far infrared and nano technologies to maintain condition, maximize shine and operate as antistatics and antibacterials.
Luxury can be an attitude as well as a product. For example, L’Oreal Professionnel positions its Platinium lighteners as the core of what it calls “luxury blonding.” They recommend that salons charge an additional 15 to 25 percent on Platinium blonding because of the luxury feel of the hair after treatment.
Clair Reeves, director of marketing, hair color for LP, says, “Offering luxury services within a salon menu is equivalent to a restaurant offering a range of wines, from mid-price to premium. Customers appreciate the opportunity to trade up.”
Also taking an unconventional approach toward the luxury niche are Sebastian marketers, who tapped skin care technology to develop their soft-style Evokativ line.
According to Dianne King, Sebastian’s vice president of marketing, “Consumers are using the salon experience as a way of pampering themselves, as a treat. Once someone has a high-end experience, it’s very difficult to go back.”
In fact, for the new luxury hair care products, it’s often all about the ingredients. The luxurious ingredient in Alterna, extract of caviar, restores the hair’s moisture, strength and elasticity.
According to Alterna vice president Melanie Koroyan, “More middle market consumers, those earning $50,000 plus, are sophisticated, broadly educated and well traveled and they are trading up to higher levels of quality for goods and services. Luxury products can demand a higher price point as they offer better quality, taste and aspiration.”
Anthony Molet, executive vice president of the Ales Group, USA, marketers of the Phyto line, says there is “a current upswing in demand for luxury goods.” The company bases its upper price point recommendations on Phyto’s high concentrations of active botanical extracts. Glass packaging minimizes the need for preservatives and symbolizes the “pharmaceutical identity” of the brand.
Rick Kornbluth, CEO of Graham Webb, which makes the exclusive Prive notes, “Premium pricing allows a manufacturer to add costly ingredients that are otherwise difficult to include. Prive's products feature very exclusive customized botanical blends. Exclusivity is key. We deliberately make Prive avallable only to high-end salons that are the best in the industry—which has also been key in managing diversion.”
But in a Wal-Mart world, will savvy clients pay extra for a staple like shampoo?
Bill Topolinski, L’anza’s vice-president, of marketing, maintains, “Premium salon products are about superior quality and exceptional performance,” as opposed to being an indulgence. L'anza's CP Anti-Aging line uses nutraceutical plants that provide high doses of vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants, minerals, enzymes and other phyto chemicals to enhance hair health.
Product claims that can be measured and are supported by research offer salons a solid platform for premium pricing. Pureology’s new color care line, Nanoworks, promises enhanced color vibrancy, intense shine, dramatically improved condition and maximized color retention—all based on the measurable results of its nano technology as well as its proprietary AntiFadeComplex.
Jim Markham, founder and CEO, maintains, “The emerging luxury consumer has arrived. It is all about value and performance, not price. I love the luxury niche because salon colorist, stylist and ultimately the consumer greatly value what Pureology does.”
At the end of the day, carrying a premium-priced line may be more about service than products.
Says Angie Tullis, vice president of business development for Tigi Linea, which debuted the upper bracket
S-Factor line, “Your client is the only one who can determine what she is willing to afford. Don’t offend her by assuming she cannot afford a luxury item.
“How many times have you zipped through the drive-thru for a ‘cheap’ dinner so that you could afford something that you consider a luxury? Your clients do the same thing; you just have to give them the opportunity.”