Between sales-shy stylists and clients who cling to their same ol’ product routines, humans prove stubborn creatures of habit, even in the salon setting. But a successful sampling program can shake up those dynamics. “I can’t stress enough how important sampling is,” asserts Kelly Ehlers, founder of Hello Salon Pro. “You can open a new world of possibilities, developing affinities to products that someone never would have known before.”
Ehlers admits that hair-oriented sampling creates a “slower burn” of sales boosts than instant-gratification products like makeup, as clients may need to use a hair product repeatedly to appreciate its effects. Still, according to Jennifer Weiderman, VP of marketing for Sexy Hair, data shows that distributing samples does lift long-term sales. “Once customers try and like a product (especially if it was used during their service), they’re more willing to buy the full-size version,” Weiderman notes. “It’s also a great way to reward clients. Everyone likes to get something for free that’s recommended by her stylist.”
Even better, sampling encourages long-term loyalty while cementing a personal connection with clients—often rare in today’s interaction-averse world. “Starting a sampling program opens the door to conversations with your clients about the latest and greatest products,” Ehlers explains. “Showing this dedication and care can mean the difference between gaining a lifelong customer or a one-off appointment.”
How can you run a successful sampling program? Follow these expert tips:
Know your stuff. When introducing clients to new products, it’s all about educating yourself (and them). “Staying in tune with the latest trends and product innovations can make a real difference in your success,” Kelly Ehlers notes. “Passing on that info to your clients shows that you really care and are knowledgeable about the work you do.”
Tap your contacts. Samples can be purchased at pro beauty stores, and therefore factored into a salon’s advertising budget. But, Jennifer Weiderman adds, vendor reps may also occasionally distribute them to encourage trial of new products. Ask around!
Use parting gifts. Weiderman advocates this sampling approach: Use the full-size product on clients during the service (bonus points for talking it up during use!); then give out the mini as a parting gift at the end of the appointment. You can even follow up with a short email survey to get feedback on their product experience.
This story first appeared in the March issue of Beauty Launchpad magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
[Images: Getty Images]