psychology hero

Industry • Best Practice

The Psychology of a Positive Salon Experience: Understanding Client Expectations


By Boulevard

Knowing the drivers of consumer behavior helps providers deliver next-level service

Your salon is finally open to the public. You’ve got cutting-edge tools. Luxurious products. An experienced team that can manage any bad hair day. On paper, that’s a recipe for success.

So why aren’t your books filled? And why aren’t your clients coming back for more?

There’s more to running a thriving self-care business than equipping a space and hiring a team. The most successful salons are those that go above and beyond to deliver next-level client experiences, but you can’t do that unless you understand expectations. Here’s how to utilize consumer psychology to elevate the salon experience and build a loyal clientele.

Understanding consumer psychology 

Every time we choose to purchase one item over another — say, a new brand of shampoo — there are a lot of factors contributing to that decision; often, we’re not even consciously aware of what they might be. Maybe you associate this haircare brand with luxury. Perhaps you’ve seen it all over TikTok and Instagram. It’s possible that it was on sale. These “whys and wherefores of a consumer’s purchasing decisions” are known as consumer psychology.

There are four key factors that play into consumer decisions:

  • Cultural: A person’s cultural upbringing plays a large role in their values, customs, and traditions.

  • Social: Consumers’ behavior is also heavily influenced by their social circles — think friends, family, and colleagues.

  • Personal: Age, occupation, financial status, and personality play major roles in consumer behavior. After all, a seasoned professional in their 40s will have a very different perspective than a college student.

  • Psychological: What motivates a person? What is their perception of the world around them? How have their experiences shaped them? What do they believe in?

If a client comes to your salon, that means there are a number of cultural, social, personal, and psychological factors that led them to you. This is true of just about any industry, but what makes self-care businesses unique is that its financial model is built on long-term loyalty and repeat clients, not one-time purchases. Because of this, understanding how consumer psychology relates to every part of the business — from the initial booking to the check-out process — is especially important.

Enhancing the salon experience

So how can you use this psychology to build a flourishing business? It all comes down to understanding your clients’ motivations and appealing to their underlying emotions. You need to foster a salon experience that’s welcoming, relaxing, and judgment-free.

Because every self-care business is different, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for winning over clients. For example, the clientele of a neighborhood barbershop will likely have very different expectations and motivations than the A-listers who frequent a Los Angeles salon. However, there’s one thing these places have in common: The business model is built on repeatable processes. That means owners must consistently go above and beyond to deliver stellar service — and ensure their team members are on the same page. Here are a few universal strategies that resonate throughout the self-care industry while leveraging consumer psychology.

Lead by example

The best salon experiences start with happy clients — and happy providers. If the vibes are off, clients will notice, even if you’re doing your best to hide it. It’s critical to keep your team happy, and that begins with exceptional leadership.

Because running a business can be so demanding, salon owners often focus more on their clients’ well-being than that of their staff, but it should be the other way around. You can’t provide the best possible salon experience if your team’s needs aren’t being met.

To create the kind of environment that clients prefer, you have to treat your providers like the rock stars they are. Prioritize their work-life balance with flexible scheduling and generous time off policies. Listen to their concerns and make an honest effort to address them. Talk to them like people, not subordinates. Finally, set the example you want them to follow by leading with kindness.

Make it personal

When you’re servicing dozens of clients a week, it becomes easy to think of each appointment as another task on an endless to-do list. However, clients don’t see it that way. They’re spending precious time and money to be there, and they don’t want to be just another body in the chair.

In order to make them feel special, you need to personalize the experience. If they’re a new client, take the time to get to know them and the cultural, social, personal, and psychological factors driving their decisions. What’s their background? How did they find your salon? What are they looking for? What’s their day-to-day like? How can you give them a fresh look that fits into their routine but still makes them feel amazing? How can you appeal to their motivations and beliefs?

For returning clients, make sure to spend a few minutes studying their client profiles before the appointment begins. This helps you refresh your memory about their service history and any particular preferences. On top of that, your clients will appreciate not having to repeat their life stories every time they come in. 

Be responsive

In today’s always-connected world, clients don’t want to wait — particularly the Gen Z crowd. We know that social and personal factors influence decision-making, and Zoomers have grown up with the expectation of instant gratification. Taking too long to answer the phone, respond to an email or text, or confirm an appointment can mean the difference between getting a new client and sending them right to your competition.

That doesn’t mean you need a team working around the clock on customer service; you just need the right technology. Leverage your salon software and enable seamless self-booking that makes scheduling a snap. Use conversational two-way texting to follow up with clients and answer their questions; as a bonus, you’ll also have fewer no-shows. By working smarter and not harder, you’ll be able to give clients the quick responses they’re looking for without putting undue pressure on your front-of-house team.

Keep the conversation going

The appointment’s done. The client looks great — and it’s clear that they’re feeling great, too. They settle up and leave a nice tip. Your job is done, right?

Not quite. You want to stay top-of-mind so that your clients not only return but also recommend your services to everyone they know. By staying in touch, you’ll continue building those critically important relationships between appointments.

This is another area where technology can help. Utilize your software’s marketing suite to create gorgeous, on-brand email communication — no graphic design degree required. Automated campaigns take the guesswork out of marketing and help you meet your goals, while one-time blasts are ideal for personalized offers, birthday greetings, and limited-time promotions.

In the hyper-competitive self-care industry, you need every advantage you can get. By appealing to clients’ motivations and better understanding their expectations, you’ll be able to deliver memorable salon experiences and build long-term relationships.

Client Experience Guide

Share Article

 /  /  /  /