9 Questions for Dean Corney – The Pull Agency London (UK)

What you need to do to make your salon business GEN-Z ready!

9 Questions for Dean Corney – The Pull Agency London (UK)
An interview with industry expert Dean Corney of The Pull Agency in London.

As the global pandemic that is, keeps the salon world on tenterhooks and containment measures hit the “German Mittelstand”, and therefore the hairdressing industry, with particular severity, we set out to ask the important questions for the post Lock-Down and Corona era.

We all agree that the local salon universe will survive the crisis and it is also undisputed that there will still be enough people who will be willing to spend money for a great hairdressing experience.

Many questions that we have answered in recent months and weeks relate to the measures that can be taken to make your business more profitable and thus take advantage of the real opportunity that this imposed standstill has given us.

But how do we move forward? Who will support my team in the future, who will serve the customers? Who suits me and how do I ensure that I have enough time to work on my salon and not always just be the best performer behind the chair?

I asked my colleague, owner and boss of The Pull Agency in London, these and other exciting questions about the needs of the new Generation “Z”.

The Pull Agency

In their report on the consumer behavior of the new generation, they have put together a groundbreaking paper that, even at first read, reveals questions that salon owners should urgently ask themselves and, if possible, answer.

Before we really get into it, who is the so-called Gen-Z anyway?

Generation “Z” | Snapchat:
Born between 1995 and 2015, Generation Z is currently between the ages of 4 and 24, spends £7 billion annually, and reportedly spends an average of 10.6 hours per day consuming content via their digital devices. Generation Z is highly motivated, socially conscious and altruistic. As mobile-first, they expect unlimited information and entertainment at their fingertips. With 24/7 on-demand content and real-time news, Generation Z is accustomed to speed and accessibility.

HALO: Dean, in your Future of Beauty report on Gen Z shopping behavior, you uncovered many interesting aspects that make up the generation’s consumer behavior. What were the most exciting findings from your research?

Dean (The Pull Agency): For me personally, a few of the most interesting stats we came across when doing our research were that 60% of Gen Z have bought a beauty product by the time they are 14 years of age, and within 10-15 years Gen Z will control 40% of buying power globally.

And also, importantly, the high street is far from dead to Generation Z.

More than half (53%) told us that they would rather buy health & beauty products instore than online, more than any other age group.

Within some of the qualitative research we did, also understanding that they do not want their entire lives to be digital. In fact, physical stores and experiences are incredibly important to them, they really don’t all want to sit in front of a screen or with a VR headset on all day, they want to get out and socialize and interact with brands, and the right brands who create engaging physical experiences can take advantage of this.

Love or hate marketing ‘buzzwords’, the new phrase Phygital (physical plus digital), perfectly sums up the customer experience that Gen Z wants.

HALO: What sets this new generation apart?

Dean (The Pull Agency): They are the first truly digital native generation.

As Gen Z come of age and become the most educated and financially powerful generation of all time, they have the ability to move the needle for advertisers.

They are also highly motivated, socially conscious and altruistic, and being mobile-first, they expect unlimited information and entertainment at their fingertips.

HALO: You are an employer yourself and with your The Pull Agency you are way ahead when it comes to advising brands that earn their money with hair & cosmetic products. What challenges do you see when it comes to being an attractive employer for the new generation?

Dean (The Pull Agency): That is an interesting question. The good thing is, that being an agency, and being specialists means we naturally attract creative people with an interest in beauty. I think that may be similar in the salon business, so it is a matter of attracting the best people so your business can grow and succeed.

But that is not enough now. Even before Covid hit, offering more flexibility to our younger employees was key. Obviously, that won’t always be possible in the salon environment, but I think it signifies that time is a valuable tool for motivation.

Having a good brand and real purpose as a business yourself too, we know how important brand is, do not neglect your own, especially your digital brand.

And really, I think now more than ever we need to have trust and respect for our younger generations. It is not easy times for any of us, but hopefully by working as true teams, showing strong and empathetic leadership, and giving people the chance to flourish in positive environments we can all create better, and ultimately more profitable businesses.

HALO: When you think about the salon industry, what role does a professional digital footprint play?

Dean (The Pull Agency): It’s crucial, ensure that your brand remains consistent across everything you do, and that your message and customer experience is best in class.

Platforms are always changing. Trends, products and entertainment are evolving at an expediential rate. Having a strong brand foundation to understand who you are talking to, what you say and how you want to be seen plays a huge part in cutting through the noise of social.

Again, if you want to attract the best new people, you better be ready for the new generation of digital natives!

HALO: We’ve learned that contrary to what many expect, the new generation places quite a bit of emphasis on Work-Life-Balance, on genuinely lived corporate values and also on a real promise of quality, especially when it comes to topics like customer focus and sustainability. In your opinion, what are the most important building blocks for Gen Z employees to also be happy and stay with the company longer than one year?

Dean (The Pull Agency): Gen Z were born between 1995 and 2015 and are currently aged between 4-24. Therefore, they are still in the early years of their career development, so they need careful nurturing and real understanding from their most likely older, more senior members of the team.

Work life balance is incredibly important and is also a very personal thing. Everyone’s views on where the balance sits are different.

My advice would be to wake up every day looking to learn from your new young team members. Ask them how they would like to be treated, what they think the business could do to ‘give back’, whether that be the community, the environment, or the industry.

This not need only be for the Gen Z, staff surveys can be invaluable to staff moral and feedback in our experience across many businesses.

HALO: What should a salon definitely consider when it comes to employee leadership and are there some easy wins here?

Dean (The Pull Agency): It is a bit of a cliché, but your people are your biggest assets. But.. happy, well looked after and respected people can be rocket fuel for your business, especially in customer facing sectors like salons.

I think the easy wins come in honesty and effective communication with the whole team, at minimum monthly, and a regular two-way feedback.

This can be face to face or mentioned before in a regular survey. Then a willingness to listen and apply that feedback effectively, irrespective of your position.

Just to add, this is a two-way street. If you are honest to your people and look after them, you have to expect honesty and respect back, and in fact in my experience you do.

HALO: We learn in your report that the young wild ones are online for an average of 11 hours a day. How can that be reconciled with a hairdresser’s job, and what can salon operators do here to help you harness the potential?

Dean (The Pull Agency): I would say to try and use screen time to your advantage. Generation Z have not experienced a world without the internet or social media, most have used the internet from a very young age, making them very comfortable with tech.

So, it shapes almost every facet of their lives, they see and experience the world differently.

The generation can be viewed as superficial – the “Instagram generation” and “anti-social” for living life behind a screen – our research showed that seven out of ten (71%) would actually prefer to always feel good than always look good. Use that to your advantage by creating effective and emotive campaigns and messaging both online and in salon to enhance, entice and retain this target audience.

And obviously, get them to review what you are doing online, and maybe even become micro influencers for your brand if they show real aptitude on social themselves.

HALO: In your report you outline the importance of beauty trends for Generation Z. What trends are important for the new generation? And should a Salon pay attention to them when implementing into their portfolio?

Dean (The Pull Agency): Product ratings and reviews play an important role, with eight out of ten (83%) confirming it’s a factor when purchasing a new health & beauty product.

It suggests Generation Z are more cautious with money, wanting more guidance or reassurance before an investment.

With regards to what, we identified that cosmetics dominated by 45%, followed by skincare and hair care so reviews will enhance this groups decision making process massively.

HALO: Your insider tip to salons in Germany and the UK?

Dean (The Pull Agency): Map the customer’s journey, from initial engagement through to first visit, and then hopefully multiple further visits. Perhaps even employ a secret shopper. Identify points of friction and pain, areas that could be better and easier to engage or experience the brand. And then action the improvements.

And customer surveys. What do they like about the experience with your salon, what don’t they like more importantly?

Research and insight need not be expensive, but the best brands and business constantly review and analyse themselves, always looking to gain that competitive advantage, you should too.

Thank you very much for the exciting interview!

You are not a hairdresser, but marketing manager in a hair cosmetics / cosmetics company and interested in current communication concepts? Then take a look.

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