III. Industry Analysis
[Company Name] competes against small, individually owned hair salons and barber shops, and against major regional or national chains. There are over 450,000 registered salons in the United States, a figure that reflects the hair cutting needs of 300 million people.
The hair salon industry is a fragmented one, as the 50 largest companies only hold 15% of the market, which is estimated to grow to more than $35 billion in three years. This bodes well for [Company Name]; since there are no truly dominant competitors, barriers to entry are not as high as many other industries, and a start-up can expect to have success in this growing market. There is plenty of room in the industry particularly for well-placed local salons that cater to specific geographic and demographic customer niches. Smaller hair salons can easily develop loyal clienteles that enable them to compete and succeed against industry giants; in this industry, size does not necessarily mean an advantage, which bodes well for [Company name].
The largest competitor in the hair salon industry is Regis Corporation, which is affiliated with more than 8,000 locations across the continent. Their business model uses a combination of franchising and corporate ownership, along with several different brand names at different market positions. Regis tends to maintain central control of its higher-end locations, and franchise its discount haircutters.
The industry in which [Company Name] will compete is experiencing a number of different trends.
- Slow but steady growth. This market is expected to grow consistently at around 2% annually.
- Success drivers. Customer satisfaction is what ultimately makes one salon triumph while another fails. The experience a salon’s client has determines whether or not they return and whether or not they refer others to the same salon.
- Seasonal change.The hair salon industry tends to thrive in the spring and fall, but slow down during the winter and summer. [Company Name] will launch haircutting operations during [Fall/spring], when the industry is experiencing higher sales. Catching a seasonal upswing in the first quarter of business should help provide a buffer of cash for [Company name].
- Price sensitivity at the bottom. The low-cost segment of the market, which primarily serves men and children, often competes on the basis of price. This reflects the different preferences of these particular consumers, who are often more interested in an affordable haircut than in seeing the same hair cutter on a regular basis.
- Size at the bottom. Larger hair salon chains tend to gravitate toward the bottom of the market. Brand loyalty is not strong here. Many companies in this segment use a franchise model.
- Economies of scale. Larger salons are finding opportunities to succeed, by making effective use of support personnel. Receptionists, hair washers, and assistants at larger establishments can take care of many of the menial tasks that skilled haircutters have to handle in small salons. This permits a skilled hair cutter to spend a higher proportion of their time actually cutting hair and generating revenues.
- Premium independent salons. Independent salons also compete in the premium segment of the market. These firms develop loyal customer bases and select their location on the basis of population demographics.
- Specialty salons. Presently, a niche is being carved out for salons that cater to very specific customer segments, most notably adult males from higher income brackets. High-end, men-only hair clubs draw this crowd with upscale amenities such as cigars, pool tables, and drink bars.
- Intense customer loyalty. Many salons develop repeat customers who become a regular client base and represent a significant portion of their revenues. Salons whose employees are able to develop strong relationships with customers can expect to see more long-term success.
- Changing gender patterns. Traditionally, women bring in the lion’s share of revenues for hair salons, using beauty services more often and spending more at each appointment. In recent years, however, the male consumer’s attitude has begun to shift. Men now make up approximately 25% of salon clientele.
- Gender preferences. Women are the most lucrative customers for hair salons, visiting more often and purchasing more special treatments such as coloring.
- Ideal demographics. The baby boom generation generates a very large portion of hair salon revenues. This large segment of the market has reached the peak of its earning power, and they are beginning to need special treatments such as coloring.