Spa Retail: Selling Nail Care

Capitalize on beauty trends by adding nailcare products to your retail operation.

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Among the most triumphant survivors of the recent recession was the nailcare industry—and this booming market shows no signs of slowing. Thanks in part to the gel polish trend, more consumers than ever before have taken an interest in receiving manicures, sporting high-style digits and purchasing DIY nailcare products. As a result, skin- and nailcare companies alike have amped up development and production of hand and foot care. If you’re not currently retailing these goods at your spa, now is the perfect time to start.

“Nailcare retail should be seen as an additional profit center within the spa,” emphasizes Annie McCullough, vice president of sales for SpaRitual. “Any consumer investing in their hair and skin is just as concerned about hand, foot and nail care—if these products aren’t offered at your spa, these consumers will purchase them elsewhere.”

Adding nailcare products and services doesn’t have to be difficult, but spa owners do need to answer some crucial questions:

• How will nail care complement your existing business model?
• How will you choose which products to carry?
• What are the best ways to drive home nailcare sales?
• How can you most optimally display these goods in your retail area?

There’s no need to bite your nails over it, however—DAYSPA has turned to nailcare industry experts for the answers.

Handy Advice

Go into any big-box store and you’ll see rows and rows of mani and pedi products, lacquer, gel polish—even kits with UV lights! Consumers these days have access to all manner of nailcare products, at any time of the day. But, there’s one thing they won’t find in a store, and that’s you and your knowledgeable spa staff.

Picking up a cuticle cream on a store shelf may seem convenient in the moment, but how many treatments will that consumer need to try before she lands on one that’s correct for her skin type and condition? As a professional, you have the knowledge needed to select the right product the first time. So, while you have the client in the spa, it’s up to you to demonstrate the convenience of purchasing custom, homecare products from the experts.

“Nail care is a continuation of general skin and body care, and makes your spa more of a one-stop shop to address clients’ needs,” points out McCullough.

Consider that many clients suffer from dry and cracked skin on their hands and feet, especially during the fall and winter. Spa professionals are great at tending to these issues, but it’s crucial to also send clients home with products designed to keep their skin problems at bay until their next visit. “Nails, cuticles and the skin around them need to be regularly hydrated and exfoliated for optimum health,” reminds Jessica Quick, marketing manager of CND.

“To maintain the benefits of a hydrating spa treatment, prescribe home care such as intensive lotions or hydrating masks that can be worn at night with socks or gloves,” suggests Alisha Rimando Botero, executive vice president and creative director at Artistic Nail Design. “Demonstrate how cuticle oils promote hydration and flexibility. And familiarize clients with nail strengthener to help thicken and protect the surface while it grows out and repairs itself.”

Keep in mind, promoting well-cared-for hands and feet is simply an extension of what you’re already doing at your spa. “Everyone wants beautiful nails and hands,” says Patricia Freund, vice president of marketing at Cuccio Naturalé. “Nail care is also about hand care, and bringing this to your clients’ attention will help to boost sales—think handy cuticle sticks and nourishing hand creams.”

Selling nail care alongside skin care cross-promotes both retail operations, according to Renee Meyers, education recruiter and show lead for OPI. “Combination service promotions”—such as hand massage incorporated into a facial, and reflexology pedicures—“help turn people into committed clients for all of their beauty needs,” she explains. “You have the ability to turn skincare clients into nailcare clients, and vice versa.”
And, thanks to the relatively low cost of nailcare services and items, they make for great “impulse buys,” according to Amos Lavian, president of Dermelect.

Point Out the Right Line

Maybe you’re already using and retailing some nailcare products, or perhaps you’re new to the segment, and have heard excited boastings about certain players in the industry. In any case, do your research. The products you retail should reflect your spa’s image and truly benefit your clients. Are your spa’s guests most interested in high-fashion trends? Organic approaches? Medical-grade solutions? Start by looking at any nail lines your current skincare vendors offer, as double dipping can save you money and help you benefit from clients’ established brand loyalty.

“It’s important to choose products that resonate with the spa’s overall message,” Freund says. “Research the products, distributor and manufacturer before purchasing to make sure they will be able to take care of your unique needs.”

Lavian suggests mentally answering the following questions before selecting a line:

• Does the brand share the same principles of care as your spa?
• Does the brand’s image mirror your spa’s image?
• Where are its products currently distributed? (You’ll want to make sure the brand is spa-specific, so you’re not competing with the corner drugstore.)

“Try the treatments and ask yourself, ‘Would I use this?’ and more importantly, ‘Would I pay for it?’” advises Lavian.

Sometimes, connecting the dots between your existing skincare and potential nailcare offerings comes down to the ingredients you’re already utilizing in face and body treatments. “Lines that are mission-aligned on quality, ingredient integrity and performance are proven to work most harmoniously,” points out McCullough. “The client’s skincare needs are often the same as those that apply to their feet and hands.”

With so much information available online, it’s easy to obtain all the info you need before making a final decision. “Once you choose a line, start with the company’s best-selling products,” Quick says. “Carve out a special section for them in your retail space, and make sure your staff is trained on the features and benefits of the products.”

Quick advises sticking with a single line throughout a service and, if you’re new to retailing nail care, selling just that line at first. “Most products are specifically formulated and tested to work together, and yield best results when used in the assigned combination,” she explains. “During manicures and pedicures, a spa pro should use the selected nail lacquer brand’s products throughout, to ensure the best wear for the consumer.”

Shake on the Deal

You’ve got the products and the knowledge; now you just need to make the sale. Where to start? “The best way to spark the conversation is while performing a service,” says Freund. “Practitioners should inform the client of which products they’re using and why. If the client mentions any special needs—i.e., dry skin, cracked skin, dry cuticles, etc.—this is the spa tech’s cue to start the conversation.” It’s also a good time to suggest take-home products that can help maintain skin between spa visits. “Most clients trust their technicians, and would really value their opinion on what would most benefit their nailcare regimens,” Meyers says.

McCullough reminds technicians and estheticians to relax, have fun and simply engage the client. “Ask them if they’re happy with the current condition and shape of their nails. This will guide you toward the products they need,” she says. “Educate your client by sharing something they didn’t know before. For example, explain that nail lacquer is similar to lip color in that most people look good in either warm or cool shades.” McCullough also suggests highlighting one signature product that you truly believe is a “must” for everyone who wants beautiful nails.

Lavian suggests posing these questions to any client seeking to improve the look of her hands and nails: 1) Do your nails function the same way they used to when you were younger? and 2) Do they still grow long and strong, or has their composition been compromised by external factors such as aging, washing, heredity, daily abuse, acrylics/gels, etc.?

Clients will undoubtedly name something they would like to change about their hands or nails, which is your opportunity to share the many ways in which you can help.

McCullough adds that the nail retail category should be actively represented on the spa’s marketing calendar. “Events held for skin and hair can successfully be implemented for nails,” she says. Expose clients to your offerings by adding sample-size hand and nail products to gift bags, and offer festive mini manis to give your staff further opportunities to educate clients.

Handsome Displays

Nailcare products take up a fairly small amount of shelf space, and products such as polishes can be placed right on the checkout counter for grab-and-go purchasing.

Point-of-purchase displays near the register work well, especially for items such as cuticle oils and balms, according to Botero. “Make sure your employees are knowledgeable about all of the products available,” says Freund. “And make your displays interesting and interactive to evoke interest.”

“By offering a small taste, clients will find out how awesome a product is, and you’ll hook them more quickly,” adds Lavian. “Provide them with literature, too. Today’s consumers love to learn the story behind the brand or product innovation.”

Just like any other section of your retail area, keep your nailcare sections fresh, lively and updated. You don’t want last season’s nail lacquer collection or last year’s lotions showing their age on your shelf. “Update the designated hand and foot care section seasonally,” says Quick. “As all professionals know, hands and feet need more moisturization in the fall and winter and additional exfoliation in the spring, when we’re kicking off our boots.”

Don’t distance your nail care too far away from skin care, however. “When in the spa environment, clients are looking for ways to take better care of themselves and their skin,” explains Freund. “Therefore, placing those products together will increase spa retail revenue, and boost clients’ convenience.”

Liz Barrett is an Oxford, Mississippi-based writer and editor.