Supermarkets, Add Luster and Volume

March 10, 2010

So much talk about shopper savings strategies has focused on switching behaviors prompted by price and promotion.

So much talk about shopper savings strategies has focused on switching behaviors prompted by price and promotion. Not enough attention has been paid to the new opportunities for supermarkets that lie in consumer lifestyle cutbacks.

Now an online Harris Poll of 2,576 adults conducted in January identifies compromises people have made in their lives to keep more cash in their pockets. What struck us among them:  39% have been going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often, and another 8% have considered it.

This behavior opens the door for supermarkets to satisfy consumers in a refreshing way that helps keep their self-esteem intact, and places the store more at the core of their weekly to monthly grooming routines. Do hair well, and supermarkets can consistently be about more than food. 

If a store’s physical size allows it, consider partnering with a respected local salon or stylist. Use the hair expert’s local brand and following to bring more steady traffic to your location. Co-promote for continuity. Go one better, and offer a shopping service (for a modest fee) while women are being pampered – and have each order ready to wheel to the patron’s car when she’s done. That’s painless shopping.

Understand which of your shoppers cares most about appearance and grooming (frequent cardholders), and start to message them directly (e-mail, direct mail) about ways to keep looking their best, particularly when it comes to their hair. Think educational messages about the foods, beverages and nutrients that help add luster, volume and brilliance to hair.  Consider running some select promotions that connect purchases of these foods with purchases of hair care items, in order to improve total-store awareness and category performance. 

Wouldn’t it be persuasive if stylists were trained in the food aspect of hair care and spoke to their customers about it, and if educational leaflets within the stylists’ area reinforced this lesson? Although supermarkets long ago seceded hair care share to other channels, that was before Boomers reached 60 and looked hard in the mirror. It was also before eating healthy to remain vibrant became a leading trend. And it was before a recession that made a simple pleasure like a hair styling so important to getting through the week.

Making such a visit possible under the supermarket roof, and then making it easier for people to keep looking good between appointments – because they know the right foods to eat—could become a memorable service and a loyalty builder.