Expert Advice

The Power of Three

Patrick McIvor | January 22, 2014 | 10:41 AM

In December, right before the holidays, I was sitting in my office watching a TED Talk from Malcolm Gladwell about “Choice, Happiness and Spaghetti Sauce.” As I listened, my mind gravitated to ideas that Gladwell was sharing.

In the talk, he shared the story of how Prego in the 70's was able to finally be competitive with Ragu by giving consumers a choice of tomato sauce that up until then had never been offered, extra chunky. Through taste research, a group was discovered who didn’t see themselves in either choice, but when given a third option could find happiness. As the talk continued, my mind took off— there is a power in three.   

One, two, three— there is a power in three.

The ancient Egyptians used the power of three to build the pyramids and today modern architects use the power of three and triangles to build our modern skyscrapers. The power of three was used to build many of our historic bridges and is still used to build the bridges of our future. In the bible there are three wise men. There were the Three Musketeers, even though when you Google them you find four men in the picture. The three amigos got it right and Lionel Richie sang... once, twice, three times a lady— there is a power in three.

Our government has three branches and we were discovered by the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. Then there's the band Earth, Wind and Fire. Was water flat? There is a power in three. Our days are divided into, morning, noon and night, and even though a woman is pregnant for 10 months we still call it trimesters. And when she craves a sandwich it's composed of bread something in the middle and bread— there is a power in three. A stoplight has three colors, a story needs a beginning, middle and end, and our flag only needed red, white and blue.

For us as salon professionals, we know there are three primary colors and when you mix two of them together in equal parts you create three secondary colors— there is a power in three. Sports? Well, if you own a horse you want to win the Triple Crown. If you bet, you want a trifecta. In hockey, it's a hat trick. In baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re out. In basketball, on a good night you might have a triple double, and there’s no medal for fourth place in the Olympics.

The Power of Three

So why is there a power in three?

Well, it’s because two choices don’t seem to be enough and once we offer four there needs to be a fifth, sixth and seventh option. Think about it this way, if there is small, medium and large, people will pick one. But, once you add an extra-large, you need an extra-small and an extra-extra-large. If you’re serving ice cream, chocolate, vanilla and strawberry works, but what's the fourth flavor, chocolate mint chip, cookie dough, coffee?  Look at TV, for years it was ABC, CBS and NBC, but once FOX broke through, so did TBS, TNT, CNN and all the rest of the cable channels. There is a power in three even when you look at other business models.

For example; Toyota uses the power of three by creating Scion, Toyota and Lexus, Disney offers deluxe accommodations, suites and rooms, and Starbucks breaks their offerings into coffee, espresso and Frappuccino. This started to fascinate me, and I started to think about our industry and how we have broken ourselves into three different business models too. The value priced salon, salons that offer premium services with options to upgrade, and the luxury service salons that have one price that includes all the upgrade options at usually the top of the market pricing. When you look at the three options holistically, you see how that creates choices for salon guests that range from a $12 haircut to a $1,200 haircut.

This year, I am so excited to be traveling throughout the United States sharing ideas that use the power of three to build business, connect to our communities and go viral.  From three quick powerful social media ideas to three powerful business models that work for salons and three unique ways to address guests. So, look for me on the road with Goldwell/ KMS California and the Arrojo Team, and around the country sharing business ideas at our brand new MBE Program with Goldwell. Plus, because this is the power of three, there has to be one more big thing I'll be sharing, but it needs to be kept a secret a little bit longer. Be sure to check back right here and don't miss me on the road, because this is where you will find the third game changing idea this spring.

2014 is going to be an amazing year, I hope your year started well and I look forward to seeing you, getting a hug and sharing ideas together that work for all of us.

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