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Kerastase National Ambassador Forum

Mastering the ‘new luxury’ is as much about knowing where luxury was born and exceeding expectations – Kérastase certainly luxuriated guests at Nusa Dua’s The Mulia, where the business of luxury was an endless state of mind, writes Cameron Pine.

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A luxury leader took a leading stance on the business of luxury, immersing salon owners and ambassadors with gifts and the extra touches that define luxury and a year of evolution for Kérastase. Managing Director Sandra Kelly promised a new level of working with individual salon business, as she addressed more than 80 salon owners and ambassadors at one of Bali’s most luxurious hotels.

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Maurice Meade salon

Among a somewhat unparalleled luxury environment it was an astute time to ask what luxury really is. “The most important element here is that the definition of luxury is ‘a state of great comfort’. Just because it is expensive doesn’t mean its luxury,” Sandie shared.

“What we often forget is that luxury is the notion of emotion –the most important part of luxury,” Sandie said.

It was a fitting launch presentation among a highly awarded environment that took home the forever elusive title of ‘best spa in the world’ as voted by conde nast traveler. There was certainly luxury on a grand scale at The Mulia.

“I reassure you that we understand what Kérastase means to you and we are giving you what you need to grow your business faster. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the market, out in salons and learning what the brand means to you, It’s not just about the products, when we deliver luxury we should be delivering that to you in every aspect of the experience,” she said.

Where once luxury was reserved only for the ultra-rich, it is, for a brand like Kérastase so much more about the brand value that lies in every single consumer experience – allowing guests to experience the luxury opportunities of a true consultation based brand in their own way. Essentially the definition of luxury has changed and so have the demands on salons who stock luxury brands.

“Mostly we don’t remember the days. We remember the moment. The definition of luxury really has expanded and is so many different things and you need to ask yourself, ‘are you delivering luxury at every touch point?’ Touch points that sometimes don’t cost a thing,” Sandie said.

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The Plantation Grill

Before introducing a completely customized program delivering indulgence to salon owners and ambassadors, Sandie spoke of a complete brand upgrade and modernization in 2016 further promising a pioneering level of strategic innovation for salons and an inherent heartbeat to the luxury customer and the new levels of engagement.

Forming the majority of these promises was the reassurance for conference salon owners and ambassadors that the global leader would work more closely with salon’s individual requirements rather than push products that don’t grow their business. Superior education based around the customer experience and not just product on top of digital acceleration will further realize a retail revolution for the brand throughout 2016.

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Phoebe McDonald, Michelle Blake, Tayler Johnstone, Shannon Williams, Andrea Bryceland and Kristian Tognini

Just like any brand facing diversion and distribution challenges, Sandie let word on brand expansion stating, “We have no plans to expand our distribution. We are at our maximum but will continue to grow with our existing customers. Our promise to you is more clients and more profit for your business. Your ultimate education partner,” Sandie said.

“We need to get back to who we are and we are ‘the’ luxury brand. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being just a product supplier. We want to deliver the ultimate in luxury to you in 2016 and we hold ourselves highly accountable for this,” she said.

The millenials now make up a much more significant portion of the market – it’s not just about the product, they demand more from their brands and thus a new level of salon experience is required. One just like the 7 steps of luxury enveloped in the Alana Kristian Kérastase flagship salon that opened in Rose Bay late in 2015.

“It used to be about classic and craftsmanship and hand-made but the pleasure involved is so much more with emotions, sensations and experience,” Sandie said.

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The Mulia

This brought guests to their first speaker – Zoran Lozevski – co-owner of Alana Kristian – an elevated experience and buying environment for the guest was dissected for all to see.

Zoran believes that while Australia is advanced in terms of services, we are severely behind the United States when it comes to customer service.

Zoran gave an in-depth view into the complete curation of the space – an integral insight into the complete salon journey with Kerastase and how the salon has grown transaction volume by more than 55 per cent, just since adding the new 7 touch point customer journey as well as an astounding 90 per cent improvement on new clients in the last quarter of 2015.

It was then time to welcome a speaker that feels like family to the L’Oréal group – the charming and forever insightful Paul O’Brien. Paul’s ability to fuse the metrics of business and his sales experience with the philosophical nature and factual evidence underscoring human behaviour was invaluable to the group.

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“You don’t build a business – you build people and then the people build the business,” Paul said.

From strategies and skills to deliver the best service to customers to a discussion around a book called ‘obliquity’ which Paul cites as a summary of some of the best enterprises that are run by enthusiasts who pursue excellence over financial success – ultimately financial success follows.

“Sassoon wasn’t motivated by the pursuit of money, he was motivated by excellence and innovation that is ultimately about making money.

When 1620 consumers were tested under laboratory conditions, 63 per cent said they felt their heart rate increase when they thought about receiving great customer service. The majority of these people also said it triggered the same cerebral reaction as feeling loved.

The takeaway? When it comes to customer service, it’s not about what consumers think. Great service is about feelings.

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Selfie moment: Sundarra Dinner Jimbaran

Paul gave some of the most powerful anecdotes and figures around digital marketing, sales and the scary beast that is a P&L. Did you know that emails with social media sharing buttons increase searches by 150 per cent?

On the topic of sharing and caring it was then time for the leader in mindset and attitude, Terry Hawkins. No stranger to a hairdressing audience, Terry – the creator of Pit man and Flip man – the dichotomy of a positive person who looks at the bright side and one who is negative and ‘in the pit’, Terry managed to connect with Kérastase guests with a level of emotion that lasted the entire conference.

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“You’ve got 30 seconds to inspire someone and I don’t believe in motivation,” said Terry. Terry’s incredible sense of energy and entertainment came back to understanding the precious 40 minutes she had to ignite salon owners in a far reaching way. Preceeding a more in-depth presentation the next day with both salon ambassadors and owners, for Terry it’s up to us to set ourselves up for the day, just like her book suggest ‘why wait to be great?’

“Two things that are the most influential – our own people and the pressure we put ourselves under. We live in an anxiety state.”

After a very successful career in Australia, Terry relocated to America 6 years ago and after tears and nights under the covers so her children didn’t hear her crying it has since become the best thing that ever happened to her. Evolving from ‘people in progress’ Terry’s philosophies have become global – from transforming the planet through retail and into customer connection and showing companies how they are ‘bleeding money’, it all starts with engagement.

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Wayne Chappell and Kristian Tognini

“You are the only industry where we get the chance in a sliding door moment to get in and massage someone’s heart,” Terry said.

“A moment with salons and at the basin is a cellular feeling. Hire on personality and grow the business on process. Put the process on a pedestal, not the personalities,” Terry said.

With the most captured audience of the entire conference program, Terry’s ability to command the attention of leading entrepreneurs to realize how they have the power to completely ‘wake people up’ and ‘enlighten them every single day’ but also integrating the way people learn into more factual traits such as auditory, kinesthetic or visual. “You need to feel the love through the hands.”

“If you don’t play the right people and you have to beg them to step up and play ball it’s like pushing shit up hill the whole time. Be careful who you get in bed with,” she said.

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Terry Hawkins

Speaking of getting into bed after an action-packed day, there was plenty of after conference hours fun to be had, with guests being transported to iconic locations in Seminyak, Jimbaran and Uluwatu for dinner as well as a free night – it was important element of the program to enjoy the surroundings.

Kérastase then integrated the program with both salon owners and managers/ambassadors, starting the next day and sessions with discussions on the old luxury and the new luxury consumer and integrating more Terry Hawkins goodness into the hearts and minds of leading salon experts. “The captain of the brain is the conscious mind, everyday it’s a choice,” Terry said.

“The enemy of best is good – it’s just like fine – the best can always be amazing. Your past does not hurt you – your past cannot hurt you – it’s the meaning you place on your heart that hurts. Change the meaning and change the biological response and you will change the future,” Terry said.

Michelle Blake is the master of consultation – her methods and processes are proven to produce the best colour consultations and business increase around colour in the market globally. Her ‘five step five minute’ luxury consultation is recognized in hairdressing salons globally.

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Sarah Knight, Sandie Kelly, Phoebe McDonald and Alex Shadbolt

Michelle helped salons to create an environment where the best consultation could take place from the minute the customer enters the salon. She also touched on retail and the best moments to sell, when the client is at their emotional peak.

“The backwash journey is the area the client loves the most, the pressure is off and everything we hear is a direct reflection of how we feel so this is when we build the retail journey,” Michelle said.

From texture, diffused shapes, to like-minded personal interaction and leading global salons that employ her techniques – Michelle was as intricate as she was elegant about what attracts people to salons.

Rules of attraction run far deeper than the salon fitout too, style consultant Bronwyn Fraser talked about how important it is to dress for your salon brand and the old adage that ‘first impressions are everything’.

“Wardrobe appropriation is a big thing when 93 per cent of someone’s impression of you is visual,” Bronwyn said. From seven style personalities to dressing for body shapes, Bronwyn had everyone covered ‘literally’. “Always have a hero in your look – something that stands out,” she said.

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Retail tactics ambassadors could take back to the salon became a big part of closing speaker

Tracey Hughes’ presentation – right off the back of Sandie Kelly informing salons that their most successful stockist of Densifiqiue hair loss program is in fact leading Melbourne hair-loss clinic – Epworth Dermatology, and Professor of Dermatology at the University of Melbourne Rod Sinclair. Rod has sold $90,000 in Densifique sales from one location – a massive missed opportunity for many salons.

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The most awarded educator globally, Tracey Hughes took a nod away from traditional education techniques and told her story – one that meandered through the Evolve salon collapse, onto a personal struggle and into what has kept her inspired to develop herself and in-turn the industry.

“Looking at sales we need to look at the four building blocks of what it takes to own a salon and the teamwork required to run a memorable and awarded salon business,” Tracey said.

Tracey asked questions around retail as well as gave solutions to increase retail sales at the salon team level. She asked if salons had considered adding another dimension to servicing their clients by allowing for a follow-up between salon visits and giving them the option to purchase online through their own domain.

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Tracey Hughes

Practical exercises encouraging everyone to create their ultimate 30 second ‘elevator pitch’ tied back to the notion of selling. “Humans greatest fear in life is public speaking, so an elevator pitch is what you need to perfectly describe every aspect of your business,” Tracey said.

Based around the word ‘Inquire’ – Tracey spoke about every letter being an integral part of the customer retail experience and how to capture retail from every guest, nomatter their expectation.

“If you can’t sell yourself, you can’t sell anything,” Tracey said.

I learnt something about luxury this month. Just when you think you know it all I stayed at one of the leading hotels in Bali – new luxury with a modern edge but despite the grand elegance, the most important element is that of human interaction. What I realized during this time is that luxury is about so much more than a grand scale elegance. It’s about people – lucky for us we’ve got human connection by the bucketload.

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