The Beauty Busi­ness

Enterprise - - Special Feature -

The mas­sive in­flux of women in var­i­ous ca­reers and pro­fes­sions and the need for per­sonal groom­ing lures many work­ing women to beauty sa­lons and spas. Man­i­cure, pedi­cure, fa­cials, cleans­ing, streak­ing, blow dry, hair styling and even ex­pen­sive hair treat­ments now seems to have be­come a ne­ces­sity. Wed­dings are big busi­ness and while a for­tune is spent on the bride’s make-up, fe­males in the fam­ily as well as guests em­bark on a ver­i­ta­ble spend­ing spree to look their best. Beauty con­scious­ness has, in fact, emerged as an in­di­ca­tor of ris­ing af­flu­ence. With an in­crease in the num­ber of house­holds up­grad­ing to a higher con­sump­tion life­style, there is an ex­plo­sion of growth in the beauty in­dus­try as well.

De­spite slug­gish eco­nomic growth due to ad­verse mar­ket con­di­tions in Pak­istan for the past few years, the growth in the beauty in­dus­try has been mas­sive both in the or­ga­nized and un­or­ga­nized sec­tor. There are about 500 reg­is­tered beauty sa­lons in Karachi alone, in ad­di­tion to per­haps an even larger num­ber of un­reg­is­tered par­lours that have mush­roomed in ev­ery part of the city. A sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion ex­ists in other large cities and even in smaller towns across the coun­try.

Just as there is a dis­tinct dif­fer­ence vis­i­ble in the life­styles of var­i­ous SECs (so­cio-eco­nomic classes), there are sa­lons avail­able to cater to the var­i­ous in­come strata. All th­ese par­lours may of­fer sim­i­lar ba­sic ser­vices on the face of it but there is a clear dif­fer­ence in the qual­ity of ser­vice as well as the gen­eral am­biance and set­ting of the sa­lons.

Many well-es­tab­lished beauty sa­lons have even emerged as brands, with the pro­pri­etors of th­ese sa­lons in­vest­ing con­sid­er­able amounts of money in their in­te­ri­ors, train­ing of em­ploy­ees, etc. The phe­nom­e­non, known as ‘pres­tige pric­ing’, al­lows many sa­lon own­ers to lead their cus­tomers into be­liev­ing that their ser­vices are ex­pen­sive as they of­fer higher qual­ity ser­vices., It is easy for the gullible and vain up­per class ladies to fall prey to such de­cep­tion as the bet­ter-pack­aged ser­vices ob­vi­ously at­tract more at­ten­tion, al­low­ing the up­mar­ket sa­lons to make huge prof­its. Stud­ies re­veal that the psy­cho­log­i­cal ef­fects of such mar­ket­ing tech­niques also give the well-heeled fe­male cus­tomer a sense of sat­is­fac­tion as she feels she de­serves the pre­mium treat­ment.

The par­lours that cater to the lower SECs are en­tirely dif­fer­ent. Pro­pri­etors in many in­stances have lit­tle knowl­edge or ex­pe­ri­ence of the beauty par­lour busi­ness. They are aware, though, that their cus­tomers would be will­ing to com­pro­mise on qual­ity if ser­vices are pro­vided at a lower price. The low-priced par­lours of­fer ev­ery­thing from makeup to man­i­cure, pedi­cure and hairstyling. Like the bet­ter sa­lons, they too of­fer hair and skin treat­ment along with health and beauty tips, though their ser­vices may not be su­per­vised by qual­i­fied beau­ti­cians like the higher priced sa­lons.

There is a trend of hir­ing Chris­tian girls by sa­lons in all price cat­e­gories. One rea­son is that th­ese girls are avail­able dur­ing Is­lamic hol­i­days such as Eid, which en­sures con­ti­nu­ity in lu­cra­tive busi­ness days. The other rea­son is that Chris­tian girls are found to be bet­ter dis­ci­plined and more hard­work­ing. Well-es­tab­lished sa­lons en­sure that the staff they hire are trained for the job. Many pro­vide on-the-job train­ing to new en­trants who are also given per­sonal groom­ing lessons. In com­par­i­son, the smaller par­lours hire ama­teur work­ers who sharpen their skills by work­ing di­rectly on cus­tomers.

The man­ner in which the Pak­istani beauty in­dus­try is pro­gress­ing both in the or­ga­nized and un­or­ga­nized sec­tor, it is time for in­ter­na­tional par­lour brands to en­ter the mar­ket. This will usher in a new era, of­fer­ing ser­vices based on global in­sights and pro­fes­sional prod­ucts us­ing the lat­est in­ter­na­tional tech­nolo­gies. There is no doubt that grow­ing af­flu­ence in the up­per in­come cat­e­gories can trig­ger in­creased ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, lead­ing to ac­cel­er­ated growth in the beauty cat­e­gory. The cur­rent ex­plo­sive growth in beauty par­lours cer­tainly of­fers a big op­por­tu­nity. Many lo­cal and multi­na­tional com­pa­nies can ex­ploit this op­por­tu­nity to step up in­vest­ment and em­bark on in­no­va­tion, of­fer­ing their mar­ket­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties to boost the beauty sec­tor, both in terms of prod­ucts and ser­vices.

The hair and beauty in­dus­try in Pak­istan may have ex­panded in terms of per capita an­nual spend but this is con­sid­er­ably lower than world or even re­gional stan­dards. This means that there is a great mar­ket po­ten­tial wait­ing to be ex­ploited.

The beauty in­dus­try must fo­cus on the fact that the en­vi­ron­ment is pos­i­tively in­clined to­wards growth. High prof­its and long-term mar­ket share can be at­tained through ju­di­cious in­vest­ment and bring­ing to­gether of var­i­ous busi­ness and con­sump­tion fac­tors that play a ma­jor role in the con­tin­ued growth of the beauty ser­vices seg­ment. Such growth can be driven for­ward by large na­tional and in­ter­na­tional cos­metic com­pa­nies that can ven­ture into the beauty care sec­tor.

There is also room for the launch­ing of a beauty academy with the ob­jec­tive of pro­vid­ing train­ing to stylists and beau­ti­cians. This would add con­sid­er­ably to the ser­vice stan­dards of­fered by all cat­e­gories of beauty sa­lons and, in turn, of­fer bet­ter value for money to cus­tomers.

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