It’s been called the ‘Love Island effect’ – with the popular reality show creating a huge increase in demand for male hair and beauty products and services.
And the facts speak for themselves:
- The UK male grooming market was worth £500 million in 2019.
- One in 20 men now wear make-up.
- Male hair removal is increasingly popular.
- Online searches for male make-up, skincare and moisturisers have increased by as much as 175%.
This alone is a huge salon marketing opportunity for your business to become more gender-neutral.
Add to that the potential to attract new hair and beauty clients from across the vibrant LGBTQ+ and non-binary communities and you could be looking at some seriously exciting salon growth over the next year or so.
So how can you grab some of this profitable salon action?
I’ll take you through some of the main things you need to think about:
Look out for the Learn & Grow icons and follow the links for more detailed information and ideas on related salon marketing topics.
#1 . Will gender-neutral marketing work for your salon?
If your salon is currently a female-only space with all-female team members, going gender-neutral and opening up to a wider client base will involve some major changes.
1. Your salon team
Some of your team may not welcome change.
For example, will they be happy to provide waxing services to men?
And if not, do you want to risk losing valuable beauty therapists?
Do they have the technical expertise skill set to offer certain services? Some hairdressers, for instance, may not feel confident about cutting certain styles.
2. Your salon clients
And how about your current salon client list – might they be put off if they have to start sharing their ‘girly me time’ with male clients?
So talk to your team and your clients so you can make informed decisions about the best way forward for your business.
#2. Create gender-neutral salon marketing materials
Male grooming, non-binary and LGBTQ+ hair and beauty are hugely exciting markets – and growing rapidly. You’ll enhance your business and your reputation by getting involved and committing to equality and diversity.
A good place to start is with your list of salon or clinic services and pricing:
1. Non-binary salon treatment/services menu
This should be completely gender-neutral – make sure none of the services/treatments are associated with a particular gender. Ditch any references to ‘ladies’ styling or ‘male waxing’ – which can now sound a bit tired and old.
2. Gender-neutral salon price list
Your price list should also be completely gender neutral.
For hair salons, base your prices on the type of hair your client has and whether the style is long or short (above the jaw or below the jaw prices could be charged). You can also take into account the stylist’s level of experience.
Generally, when working out how much to charge take into account:
- The type of service or treatment to be carried out.
- The products you will use.
- How much time the service or treatment will take.
By taking this approach you will ensure that all your clients are treated equally.
#3. Gender-neutral to attract new salon clients
Armed with your newly gender-neutral price and services list (don’t forget to share it on your website and social media as well as in-salon), you now need to get your new clientele through the door.
Let’s look at some thoughts and ideas to get you started:
- The look and feel of your salon.
- The language you use in-salon and on your marketing.
- Referrals from family and friends.
- Working with local influencers.
1. Gender-neutral décor and imagery
Take a deep breath and look around your salon. Does it look really girly? Does it shout ‘women only’? Is the décor pink and fluffy?
If you want to attract more men and clients from the non-binary and LGBTQ+ communities they need to feel comfortable and at home as soon as they walk through your door or see your online marketing.
Here’s how in-salon:
- Opt for neutral tones in your salon or clinic décor.
- Could you create a more neutral area or zone within your salon?
- Choose a cross-section of imagery for the walls and offline marketing materials to reflect your target market.
- Think about your in-salon music choices to ensure your new clients are not put off as soon as they walk through the door.
- Make sure your reception and waiting area are gender-neutral with reading materials and video displays that will appeal to your new target market – not just women.
- Gender-neutral product displays near the door will make it clear that your salon is not a women-only space (see more on retail products below 👇🏼).
- Have some treatment and service areas that are away from windows for those clients who would rather not be on view to the outside world.
- Ensure your window display appeals to men and the LGBTQ+ communities with gender-neutral colouring, images and product displays.
Here’s how online:
The key is to focus your social media marketing on your ideal target audience whoever that might be: female, male grooming, non-binary, LGBTQ+ .
- Use a mix of gender and non-gender emojis on your salon social. Wondering whether emojis are right for your social marketing? Head to this blog (with examples).
- Ensure that the content you are posting on social media showcases all your team (female, male, non-binary and LGBTQ+).
- Include testimonials and reviews from men talking about the treatments/services you offer.
- Think about the imagery you use on your salon website and social. If you want to appeal to a wider target audience then you need to include relevant imagery.
View this post on Instagram
- If your target audience includes the LGBTQ+ community then again, choose relevant imagery and content for your posts.
View this post on Instagram
Learn & Grow
Do you have a marketing plan for promoting your beauty or hair business on social media?
2. Non-binary language – written and spoken
Don’t assume that your clients can be referred to as ‘him/he’ or ‘her/she’ (these words are called ‘pronouns’). It’s easy to cause offence so tread a little carefully.
You can use gender-neutral pronouns such as ‘they’ or ‘them’ when referring to an individual to avoid causing upset.
It’s probably best to be upfront and simply ask your clients to let you know if they have a preferred way of being referred to – for example, ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘they’ or something else. Some individuals prefer to avoid pronouns altogether and just be called by their name.
This will help to ensure they feel comfortable throughout their salon appointment.
If clients need to fill in treatment or contact forms, avoid having a ‘title’ section where they must choose between ‘Mr’, ‘Ms’, or ‘Mrs’ if you can.
3. Salon referrals from family and friends
Think about it: if your current client list is mainly female, they’ll have partners, relatives and friends who are male and/or from the LGBTQ+ community.
So turn your existing clients into ambassadors for your salon – it’s free and very effective.
You can also use your recommend a friend scheme to encourage your new target market into your salon.
Learn & Grow
Make your current clients ambassadors for your salon.
4. Working with local gender-neutral influencers
This is another low-cost and highly effective way of marketing your salon business.
Do a bit of online research and find how who your local LGBQT+ micro-influencers are. These are experts in their chosen niche – whether that’s hair, beauty or a combination of both – who are trusted by a loyal local following. Local, loyalty and trust are more important than follower numbers when choosing someone to work with.
Make sure you would be happy for your salon or clinic to be associated with a micro-influencer before approaching them. Look for someone who:
- Shares your gender-neutral values.
- Uses high-quality gender-neutral imagery and posts regularly.
- Has 1000-5,000 local and engaged followers.
Once you’ve found one or two to target you can:
- Offer a free service or treatment at your salon in return for a write-up or recommendation.
- Send them free samples of your retail products to try out and review – include information about how best to use them and what the benefits are.
- Work with the micro-influencer to educate and inform their readers about hair and beauty products and services.
- Consider offering a limited time discount code via the micro-influencer.
- If your salon is hot on eco-friendly products and services, promote this aspect of your business via a micro-influencer with similar values.
#4. Gender-neutral products – both in-salon and retail
The future’s most definitely neutral when it comes to retail in hair and beauty.
More and more brands are getting onboard with gender-neutral marketing and creating inclusive products that focus on their use and benefits for everyone, rather than being aimed at either men or women.
Do some research and ask your usual product supplier if they can provide any gender-neutral ranges for use in your salon and as part of your retail offer.
#5. Understanding equality law
Equality law can be quite complex – but it’s vital to understand the basics to ensure your salon business is acting legally. Always get expert legal advice if you are unsure about anything.
Everyone knows that discrimination is against the law. In the UK this means:
- You must not discriminate against anyone because of their gender, gender reassignment, race, or sexual orientation.
- You must offer the same products and services at the same prices to everyone.
- You should treat a transexual person as belonging to the gender they identify with (unless there is a very strong reason not to do so – you must be able to show that your decision was not based on ignorance or prejudice).
However (in the UK):
- If you don’t offer certain products or services to women you don’t have to offer them to anyone else. For example, if you don’t offer a particular beauty treatment to your female clients, you don’t have to offer it to male clients either.
- You can choose to supply services only to people with a particular ‘protected characteristic’ (for example, you can choose to have a gay client list).
- If you offer certain kinds of services, for example, African Caribbean hairdressing, you don’t have to offer other types of hairdressing services.
- You can provide services for women only or men only but you must be able to justify doing this. Examples include where a woman reasonably objects to a man being present or where services involve physical contact with the client (these examples could apply to beauty salons).
Learn & Grow
You’ve got new salon clients coming through the door, but how do you keep them coming back?
#6. Comply with advertising law
In the UK you must advertise ‘responsibly’ says the Advertising Standards Authority. This means your adverts must not:
- Use gender stereotypes likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence.
- Exploit people’s insecurities.
- Trivialise invasive cosmetic procedures.
- Imply that people will only be happy if they look a certain way.
- Present unhealthy body images as desirable.
And don’t forget: you are not allowed to advertise prescription-only fillers and anti-wrinkle treatments such as Botox (now dubbed ‘Brotox’ for the male market).
Wrap up: Gender-neutral salon marketing
Using gender-neutral salon marketing can open up the lucrative male grooming and LGBTQ+ community for your business.
But a word of caution: Be careful your branding and image don’t become too neutral and ‘bland’ so that instead of giving an inclusive message you end up presenting a marketing message that fails to connect and resonate with either a male or female audience.
This blog post is not a substitute for legal advice and you should not rely on the information it contains or take any action based on it. Always get professional legal advice if you are unsure about the law in relation to your business.
Lockhart Meyer Ltd disclaim all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the contents of this guide.