Standing out in the crowd and growing as a business has become just as much about the ability to embrace the fear of the future as it is about the luxury services on offer. In Bali over four insightful and eventful days, Kérastase armed their loyal clients with the best of both, writes Cameron Pine.

From May 4 until May 8, in one of Bali’s most luxurious locations, Alila Seminyak, Kérastase  welcomed not just Australia’s leading ambassador salons but leading salons from across the ditch, to curate a succession plan for an even stronger business partnership in Australia and New Zealand.

For leading salons it’s often considered there’s not much you can change about your business. But after an invaluable series of days with Kérastase, it’s easy to see why it remains the most asked for salon retail brand globally. It’s not just the luxury levels of thinking from day one and parties at iconic sunset venues like Bali’s Tropicola, it’s about the balance of perspective and being a leader in an age where leadership is so easily mistaken for management.

Creating an innate balance where salon services, customisation and retail collide – the formula for growth was not just considered an offering of luxury but a method of mindset, with this year’s speakers focussing heavily on mindset to send ambassadors and salon owners home with a new level of thinking. A level of thinking that could master any challenge.

To shape new thinking you have to instil confidence, something the luxury haircare brand empowers their salons with by the bucket load. Touching not just on the ‘why’ you should be, but the ‘how’ of setting our minds for positive change, all touch points of the business were engaged from ambassador to owner.

Opening the formal proceedings, Kérastase national sales manager Lara Woolley spoke of the crucial element of business survival today; understanding the consumer.

“In business today we are all in a race for the future, a war for talent and a race to perfection,” Lara said.

“Salon guests are visiting less often, we are presented with a new generation of digital natives and we are competing for share of voice in a world where people are overloaded with content,” she said.

Not surprisingly, Lara confirmed the average person scrolled to the top of mount Everest with their thumb every year , confirming just how far our addiction to technology is heading.

Commercial director of PPD Olga Zanetti followed on with consumer insights and trends, and having started her career in marketing, Kérastase and its consumer footprint continues to be a brand she holds close to her heart.

“There’s no denying consumers are visiting less frequently but the good news is spend is on the rise with an average of 4 per cent more per visit than the same time last year,” Olga said.

With positive factors still driving our industry there continues to be opportunities for services and creating a closer bond with the client just by using the right tools every visit.

“Preventative damage is what’s really driving her to spend,” Olga said. “But less often visits have resulted in 1 per cent growth across our retail which is a good benchmark to see where you are at,” Olga said.

Despite the number of visits being down 1.7 per cent the total salon market is up 1.2 per cent and in-salon services with a brand like Kérastase remains key.

It’s no surprise that L’Oreal group brands have great access to consumer research data from organisations such as WGSN and Mintel that give invaluable insight into how things like shifting economic power, technology, population change, environmental shifts, changing values and overall trends affect salon visits.

There are 10 main global consumer trends driving what’s happening in shopfronts and salons right now; age agnostic, back to basics for status, conscious consumer, digitally together, everyone’s an expert, finding my JOMO (joy of missing out),  I can look after myself, I want a plastic free world, I want it now, loner living.

Moving from FOMO (fear of missing out) to the opposite mindset as information has overloaded our generation, it has also empowered a new breed that are happy to miss out.

It’s also all about wanting it now – a work life balance no longer exists. Today,  it’s called a work life blend and we are all on 24/7.

“When I’m opening a website it need to download straight away, if it takes two extra seconds or its not loading I’ve gone somewhere else,” Olga said.

Olga set the mood for a mindset that is very similar to the approach many of us have with technology, yet it’s surprising how many salon websites still aren’t device friendly and super-fast on mobile.

“I am happy to pay more if it helps me reach my goals quicker and most consumers are the same – it’s important we make this achievable – digitally there’s a duality where traditional and technology are blending.”

Traditional and Digital Blend – Figital

Competition is fierce and we are not competing against other salons, we are competing against restaurants, day spas and other service industries. Passive ageing is a new prose (40 is the new 30, 50 is the new 40).

“We don’t want to age, we don’t want to change, we just want to extend the good looks that we have,” Olga said.

Traditionally, the Kérastase consumer is in the 40 plus category, affluent, without kids, or they’ve grown up and left home. The brand is now putting a heavy focus on millennials and the younger generation who has hair health high on the top of their priority list, including alliances with trans international supermodel Andreja Pejic, who shares a lot of values with this generation. It’s all about a plastic free world of being responsible, sustainable and sharing diversity on social.

We will also start to see more superfoods transcending between beauty and hair with Kérastase  being one of the first brands to introduce a beauty regime into hair,  or being influenced by skincare for hair.

Olga also spoke about consumer insights per social group; Gen Y (a holistic approach to beauty) Generation X (all about preventing ageing) Baby Boomers and beyond (all about the skincare centric regime).

Generation Z on the other hand goes to Youtube for inspiration and information and will continue to be a focus for Kérastase throughout 2019 and beyond.

Salon research shows that 90 per cent of women going into the salon aren’t  recommended retail and as such the industry continues to miss out on further opportunities. It’s the aim of Kérastase to not just acknowledge but change this figure through the guest experience – to have a conversation with every consumer that walks through a salon door and increase the number of product purchases.

The newly launched Blond Absolu range targets the 18-34 year old market and comes with a strong online and digital strategy, compared to the traditional Kérastase consumer that is traditionally older than the average haircare consumer.

Nailing the market and future areas for development, Kérastase  is adapting to meet the needs of the consumer who wants it all. The first guest speaker of the conference was Sally Healy who explained to guests the key elements that made up the mentally well workplace and key HR metrics. “A positive culture starts with shared values – younger generations are into values and are wanting to change the world,” Sally said.

Sally then went on to encourage every guest to nominate two values they wanted in their salon and define a story around this to let the brand do the work.

“Involve younger generations in team values and decision making so they will be right beside you,” she said.

Sally spoke of the numerous ways you could attract the type of team that you wanted.

Sally advised of the importance of having a second interview with everyone as prospective staff can often be well rehearsed with saying what you want to hear, but not necessarily being able to back it up.

Tina Winchester then spoke in more detail about mental health and some of the signs and symptoms we can look out in the people around us. As the director of Mentally Well Workplaces, Tina used the approach of understanding rather than trying to change a culture when there were limiting mental health factors. “It’s not about them and us, it’s about all of us,” she said.

Anders Sorman Nilson is a true futurist and uses emotion and universal realisations to explain the differences between digital and analogue – for Anders it’s all about winning the digital minds and analogue hearts’ of tomorrow’s customer.

“We are all getting digitally hacked at exponential rates but the perfect blend of analogue and digital is to move friction seamlessly,” Anders said.

The cost of friction (time wasted in a business or waiting to pay or checkout) has true costs to business.

In a decade of disruption Matt Church spoke about finding true heart, courage and positive acknowledgement to everything we do.

“The best achievements come through encouragement, not through competitive demand,” Matt said. To learn is to sometimes forget what we know and Matt spoke about how sometimes we had to unlearn before re-learning to embrace the new . He talked the audience through brands that had reinvented concepts and charged more for a cheaper product, proving that with consumers, convenience was king.

One of the most talked about speakers in Australia and now globally, Amanda Stevens is known for her concept of selling to women. For her presentation, she focused on the future of the customer experience.  She said understanding the consumer was all about mastering the business of being busy and finding happiness in an uncertain world where health and true connection was the new wealth.

She stressed the importance or removing anything that was going to prevent  people coming to you, including Zip Pay and Afterpay.

“Within a tyranny of choice you need as many ways to touch consumers as possible and the key to true connection is to find commonality through celebration, customisation and connecting your customers to each other to create a network of loyalists for your brand,” she said.

Leadership influencer and body language and vocal intelligence coach, Louise Mahler, hit hard with some home truths about body language that  all do subconsciously. As an expert in psychology and face to face engagement, she had the entire audience realising their retail consultation, greetings and body language were all needing some serious work.

Making her way through the room the day before she spoke on stage, Louise was most likely reading the guests, making connections and watching body language in the room to perfectly tailor an interactive session. She managed to get several guests on stage and show just some of the many subconscious things we do when we don’t have confident body language.

Overall, there’s no denying that the state of play is more complicated now, whether it be recruitment in the age of Tinder, trying to create a true brand voice in a crowded market or finding what you can master in a decade of disruption. One thing everyone took away this year, and it wasn’t just one actionable anecdote from a speaker, it was a perfectly curated success formula marrying the best line up of speakers to create true change across mindset first.

Where guest experience is key, team empowerment is met with a myriad of challenges and the future and next steps can be blurry and instilled with fear, Kérastase  enabled you to detoxify any business blockages for and even stronger 2020 and beyond.

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