Consumer Affairs

It was somewhere between the time he spent serving as Vidal Sassoon's general manager and acquiring more than 300 salons across Europe that Leon Alexander realized the majority of salons approach retail sales the wrong way. In 2006, armed with a Ph.D. in behavioral psychology and more than 40 years of experience in the beauty business, Alexander founded Eurisko, a design, distribution and consulting company in the United States that aims to help salons increase their bottom lines by adopting a consumer-centric retail strategy.

He has since helped design more than 2,000 salons in the United States and Europe based on his retail philosophy that individuals who enter the salon should be seen as "consumers" rather than "clients" or "guests." "The space should not be designed as a salon or retail location, but as the ultimate customer experience," he says. "Design should be based around a consumer's emotional buying needs. It's the single most important factor that determines if he or she will return."

According to Alexander, salons can increase retail sales by making just a few simple changes. Consumers desire a deeply personal experience, Alexander says, which is why he suggests that salons feature product samples throughout the retail area. "Having the ability to touch, feel and smell the product encourages unsure consumers," he says. Product sampling also promotes impulse buying, which makes up a significant portion of retail sales.

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Alexander also advocates choosing specific space, lighting and color features that create a buying environment. To maximize sales, Alexander says that consumers should enter a salon through the retail area, and the reception area should be located in the back. Studies have shown people walk like they drive, meaning they will most likely turn right once inside, so Alexander says owners should position promotions and freestanding displays to the right of the entrance, guiding consumers to the reception desk. "The fundamental goal is to expose the greatest amount of inventory for the longest period of time," Alexander says. Thus, shampoo, salons' number-one selling product, should be placed in the farthest corner, requiring customers to walk past other products before reaching their ultimate destination.

 The retail display at Nirvana Salon & Spa in Belle Chasse, LA, designed by Eurisko
The retail display at Nirvana Salon & Spa in Belle Chasse, LA, designed by Eurisko

Alexander also recommends backlighting products, because the light attracts the eye, and taking advantage of color psychology when choosing light and paint color. "Brown is conducive to hunger," he says. "That's why McDonald's trays are brown. Light purple to red tones create a buying environment."

According to Alexander, thinking from the consumer's perspective is vital to success. "By implementing this strategy, salons will not only see fast results and an improvement in sales," he says, "but owners will be able to transform their businesses from salons to consumer locations that maximize business and drive it forward." —A.F.

The National Cosmetology Association (NCA) has launched an aggressive campaign to help salons increase retail sales by $50 per day. That's a $600 million infusion of cash into salons in 2009 if just 25 percent of the 50,000 salons in the United States participate. Visit ncacares.org for more information.

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