Learn what salon pros want, need and expect in hair color education and advanced education overall. Get analysis by salon segment. Review essential feedback on what the salon community values most and benchmark key education practices and preferences.

Some results are surprising. Others reinforce commonly held beliefs about salon education habits. All should help salon pros and color brands work together to grow technical skills, improve education platforms and drive color success.



Work in almost any area of the professional beauty business and you soon learn that advanced education is essential to enduring salon success. Stylists and colorists want to learn new techniques, trends, services and product knowledge, and also need to know how to market and communicate this information to clients.
Some states require continuing education to maintain a license, but even in those that don’t, most salon pros crave and seek classes, resources, how-tos and other education experiences.

While education across every service and category is important, MODERN SALON research backs up the belief that hair color education is the most popular and important category, with 83% of all respondents to our 2016 survey gauging it as valuable. High demand for hair color education goes hand-in-hand with these compelling color facts:
• Respondents say 61% of their clients receive hair color services, more than any other service.
• More than 80% of salon business owners report that more than half of their revenue comes from hair color services.

Now that we’ve established why hair color is central to any meaningful conversation about advanced salon education, let’s take a quick look at who is providing the information we’re analyzing:
Licensed: All participants in MODERN SALON’s 2016 Process survey are working professionals.
Salon title: About one-third of survey respondents identified their primary role as salon owner, another third as a stylist/colorist working as an employee in a salon, and the final third as renters/solo artists.
Color clients per week: 15 on average overall, with owner/managers averaging 17 per week and younger salon pros and renters at 13 per week.
Pricing: Average price for single process color service is $67.



What motivates salon pros to keep learning? The number one reason is also the most practical one—to improve personal skills and advance careers. Rounding out the top four motivators, all cited by more than half of salon pros:
• to inspire me
• to learn about a new line, product, service or technique
• to increase revenue/improve business performance

Priorities shift a little depending on how salon pros work or how experienced they are:
• Younger stylists (younger than 35) want to be “certified by a brand” and “to meet new peers,” reflecting a desire to build credibility and community.
• Those 35 and older typically want “to address specific client needs,” which indicates an interest in developing expertise and specializing.
• Renters place greater value on “learning about a new line” or “staying connected to the brands I work with,”
reflecting the reality that they are on their own, working independently.
• Owners are more likely to focus on increasing revenue and improving business performance.

When it comes to finding out about salon education options, traditional channels like industry magazines, websites and education calendars are still the top resource, but social media is also key.

Those under 35 are even more likely to learn about education by “social media, friends in the business or my manager,” while those 35+ give more weight to brand and distributor sales consultants as sources. Renters and owners also cite promotion from the source or event itself as more important, with renters naming their DSC and/or beauty supply store directly, and owners relying more heavily on communication from the manufacturer.

Before actually committing and registering for a new education experience:
• Commission-based stylists are more likely to talk to a friend or past attendee.
• Owners are more likely to talk to someone involved with the producers of education.
• Renters are more likely to make the decision without talking to anyone.

Finding sources for education seems to be easier than following a steady pattern of attendance. While 63% of
respondents say they attend in-person education (meaning in-salon or at a destination) at least twice a year, behavior beyond that is sporadic. For instance:
• 24% attend “as needed”
• Only 5% say monthly or more

Younger and commissioned pros attend in-person education more regularly than veteran stylists, renters or owners.

Regardless of where it happens or in what format, the content is what matters most, according to respondents asked to rank aspects of both live and online education experiences.

Top 3 topics: When asked specifically which colorrelated content and educational topics are most valuable, respondents identified:
1. Advanced color techniques (75%)
2. Balayage/highlights (66%)
3. Color Correction (62%)

The topics of Gray Coverage (a classic) and Fashion Colors (very current, contemporary) still drew interest
from the overall group, but on a much lower tier (29% and 25% respectively). Bonding/additives did not draw strong response on its own (8%), but related content would likely already be included in Advanced Color Techniques, Fashion Colors and as part of Color Correction (damage prevention).

When this same question is broken into age groups and segments, we see more of the younger than 35 niche
seeking Balayage/Highlights and Fashion Color education (trend-driven), with renters and those older than 35 wishing for more Gray Coverage classes (solutions-driven). Both results parallel the needs of each group’s likely core clientele.

The PROCESS 2016 research confirms that salon pros prefer to keep their education close to home and with a tight-knit group of peers. Specifically, 64% of respondents say small groups (of 25 people or less) of in-person education are what they most desire and appreciate for advanced education.

The leading source and preferred environment for this type of education is in the salon, followed by color company events, then industry trade shows, and beauty supply store classes or distributor shows.

The drop to the second most preferred learning option is significant, with only 13% of the total choosing online
(although this source is still important—read on). Renters, however, have an uptick in digital, which reflects that they are used to doing salon activities on their own.



What else do salon pros want from their most preferred, in-person, learning environment other than small groups? The content should be great, hands-on experiences are ideal, printed materials are valuable, and accessible, affordable programs would be nice, they say.

PROCESS survey respondents were asked to rank five aspects of live education experiences. Content scored highest, followed closely by the presenter, then venue/location. Peer group (other attendees) and things like
receptions and parties were deemed far less important.

Salon pros love education content that keeps it “real,”meaning hands-on demos, workshops and step-by-step
instruction. When asked to select the types of materials or resources salon pros find most valuable in live, how-to education, the PROCESS group replied:
1. Live models: 68%
2. Hand books/swatch books/work
books: 64%
3. Mannequins: 54%
4. Test/certificate of completion: 32%
5. Swatch book exercises: 21%
6. CEU credits: 9%

As much as salon pros love in-person and in-salon education, those opportunities can be limited—only 15% of respondents say in-person education is “readily available.”
How far is too far? The perception of availability of live education is linked to the fact that most professionals are not willing to travel very far for a one day event, but they are willing to travel for a multi-day event. Owners and younger stylists are more likely to travel more than 250 miles.
• Team efforts: Commission stylists and younger stylists are more willing to attend an event if a friend goes with them. Doubling up is less important to older stylists, renters and owners.



Online may not be the preferred learning situation, but industry websites, social media, and manufacturer websites are still key sources. Access and affordability (two challenges with in-person education) make it easy to connect.

Trends show younger generation salon pros gravitating more to livestream, social media and apps, and those 35 and older more apt to turn to manufacturer websites as digital options. Owners are still more willing to stock books and DVDs for their learning libraries, too. These patterns will likely keep evolving, however, as technology and society continues to do so.

Salon professionals do take advantage of online education, but frequency and habits vary, similar to in-person
education. As with in-person, the content or topic is the key driver for online education, with younger stylists more influenced by the presenter and renters by accessibility. Other factors include:
How often online? Renters are more likely to go online 2-3 times per week, and those younger than 35 are more likely to be going online for education more than once a week. Owners and the 35+ crowd are more prone to having no regular schedule and only go online when they have time or as needed.
Where online? “At home” is the most popular place to go online for salon education, with renters more likely to say “primarily” or “exclusively at home.” Commission stylists report going online equally between home and work; owners are more likely to go online primarily at work.
What time online? Salon (63%) are saying, “Whenever I have free time.” For those younger than 35 and for the commission stylist group, that free time is later at night. “Whenever I stumble upon it in my social media news feed,” they say. The 35+ group is the opposite, with more going online at the beginning of the day. Owners burn the candle at both ends, and are more likely to go online at the beginning of the day and late at night.
What platform online? There is equal preference for smartphone, tablet and computer as the preferred online education platform. Younger stylists and commission stylists are more likely to view on a smartphone, older stylists, renters and owners are more likely to view on a computer.
How long online? Answers vary but it is clear few want to spend more than one hour doing online education at a time.
Content Online: How-to, step-by-step education is the clear choice for online content, with 91% naming it
in their top three, but second choices vary by group. Younger stylists want more inspiration, while those 35 and up want even more step-by-steps (with images, not video). Renters are not as keen on trend presentations
online and more owners are looking for business tips.
Online Educators: Color company representatives are by far the preferred online educators. As second choices, stylists and colorist are more likely to prefer an industry icon or celebrity (inspiration) while renters and owners are more likely to prefer a successful peer (practical ideas, benchmarking) as online instructor.
Print from Online: Printable materials to download are the most valuable resource online education can provide, according to survey respondents. Commission-based stylists are more likely to want a certificate of completion.



Stylists and salon owners expect a lot from their hair color brand partners, and quality education—technical
(how-to) and product—is a must-have, in both in-person and online options.

Two-thirds of respondents say availability of good color education is an important consideration when choosing a color company—one third of professionals say they would not work with a color company that did not provide education.

When asked to select three types of education that are most important for color companies to provide, the responses are almost identical for both in-person and online platforms:
1. How-to, step-by-step tutorials
2. Product knowledge
3. Trends
4. Inspiration
5. Business
6. Personal Development
7. Promoting Myself Through Social Media (slightly ahead of Personal Development when ranking for Online Education)

When asked if points for education are a valuable benefit from color companies, stylists and salon owners who
knowingly receive points say, overwhelmingly that yes, they are important, with about 40% saying about half or more of the in-person education they received from their color brands was paid for with points. But a full one-third of professionals were not aware if they had access to points through their color company or not. (Renters were less aware, owners were more aware.)

The top way professionals stay connected to their color companies is through the brand website, but many
professionals connect in multiple ways. The most popular are:
• Visit website: 51%
• Follow on social media: 39%
• Receive company emails: 35%
• Attend company events: 39%
• Download app: 24%
• I am not connected: 18%
• Direct mail from
the company: 16%

Those younger than 35 are more likely to follow brands on social media and download a company app; more owners and those 35 and older mention direct mail more often; renters rank higher in email as a main connection. When asked how they would prefer color suppliers to communicate regarding education opportunities,
65% overall say email is the best way.

Because hair color education is such an important part of color companies’ relationships with their networks of salons and colorists, many have invested in staging all-out color education gatherings, often at dazzling destinations and with a full roster of top educators, competitions and other experiences. 
• Half of professionals have attended a major color company event in the past five years.
• Almost two-thirds of professionals say it is important that their color companies host a major event.

As connected and reliant as salons are upon color brand partners for education, three out of every
four professionals are scouting opportunities to learn more about hair color and are willing (eager, even) to take classes with brands they are not currently using.
• 61% sometimes take classes with color brands they do not use in the salon.
• 14% say they often go outside their core color lines to explore

These last points can be viewed as good news for all involved in the hair color education formula. As
long as salon pros keep a creative, open color mind and are willing to look and stretch outside of their comfort zones, then they and the variety of professional hair color brands have a chance to constantly connect with and learn from each other.

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