When Jason Yates was brought into John Paul Mitchell Systems as Vice President of Marketing in 2012, he took his time before making any major decisions. “I think it’s naïve for people to come into a company and try to change too much too soon,” he says. “The changes I’ve made have been slow and subtle.” When he began looking for opportunities to enter markets where the company could expand its footprint in the professional space, Yates saw an opportunity in the appliance sector. “It’s business we didn’t have before,” he says, “and I thought it was an opportunity for us to be innovative and lead.”
To that end, Yates decided to make state-of-the-art tools in an ever-changing array of new colors that salon owners could retail to their clients at a lower price point in order to compete with big box retailers. “Their clients are going to buy their blow dryers somewhere,” Yates says. “Why not buy them at the salon instead of Target?” The company offers a 360-degree marketing approach with social media, education, PR, point of purchase displays at the salon, and promotional material on how to use the tool to get the look.
Because he’s a hairdresser himself—Yates began as an apprentice at John English, a chain of salons in London in 1989—he understands how hairdressers think. “Most of the tools on the market take a ‘my ceramic’s better than yours’ approach,” he says. “I don’t think hairdressers understand all those marketing terms. When we launched Neuro, a secondary brand positioned as a professional tool, we took an x-ray of the product and put it on the box. We wanted hairdressers to see that what’s inside has a unique job. That’s the first thing we launched under my leadership that was major.”
What Yates loves about Paul Mitchell is the company’s commitment to the professional hairdresser. “We have an ongoing strategy to remain fresh and innovative,” says Yates, who thinks it’s important to offer a wide range of products. Want affordable luxury? There’s the classic black and white line. Is natural your thing? Try Tea Tree. Looking for a premium, luxury brand? Choose Marula Oil or Awapuhi Wild Ginger. Still, when all is said and done, there is no discounting the importance of the Paul Mitchell schools. “We’ve got 115 of them graduating 16,000 future professionals a year,” Yates says. “They’re the life’s blood of our business.” He’s got that right.