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Sally Beauty Taps Power of Influencers to Push Beauty Growth

Sally Beauty has been on an influencer tour of the country staging product demonstrations. The buzz created is paying off in stores.

Sally Beauty has built its business on the professional trade. Although its stores are open to the general public, Sally has traditionally kept a low profile, preferring to be more of a best kept secret.

No longer.

Galvanized by support from the influencer community and sharing of hair tips and tricks on social media, Sally is stirring up interest for its 5,000-plus stores located in 12 countries.

“We’ve been around for over 50 years, founded as a brand to provide products for people in the business of doing hair,” explained Carrie McDermott, who joined Sally Beauty as president in August from DSW. “We are now also focusing on the DIY market — people who love to do their own hair or style their friends. With YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest, people are really getting creative and we need to play in that space.”

Sally Beauty Makes Bigger Push Into
Carrie McDermott

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McDermott said Sally Beauty is positioned to attract a broad swatch of shoppers. “We see opportunity [in beauty] because we are within seven miles of 90 percent of our customer base. What’s important about hair is that you need someone you can talk to — you can Google hair, but it is useful to actually speak to someone. Fifty percent of people who work at Sally’s are trained cosmetologists.” According to financial information, Sally Beauty’s customer base is 20 percent professional and 80 percent retail.

Sally Beauty is unlocking the potential of social media content providers as an avenue to raise awareness of the 7,000 products packed into its stores.

Over the past year, Sally Beauty has engaged these influencers in several markets, staging pop-up Get Glam Lounge events with hair and makeup demonstrations. Recently, the influencer tour arrived in New York City with demonstrations from a host of experts including celebrity hair stylist Gregory Patterson and professional makeup artist Jade Munson of Ardell.

Sally Beauty Makes Bigger Push Into
Chris Kobus

“This started out as a grassroots event to engage with influencers,” explained Chris Kobus, group vice president and chief marketing officer of Sally Beauty at the New York pop-up last week. “We found that when we go into these cities and engage with influencers to help them learn about trends and techniques, they then ‘talk’ to their followers.”

Kobus said the “sweet spot” number of followers for the influencers building awareness of Sally’s assortment are those with up to 500,000 followers. “They really understand our business and engage their followers and that’s where we resonate.”

Influencers also played a role in a new a 203-stockkeeping unit cosmetics line called Collab launched in October. The brand, which could deliver an estimated $30 million in sales to Sally, was devised by a diverse group of eight influencers.

Beyond its physical store efforts, McDermott said Sally Beauty is revving up its online presence, especially as a vehicle to share hair tips and tricks. E-commerce is also ripe for selling larger beauty equipment to professionals, she added. “But now we also want to be where the customer wants to shop for all beauty needs.”

The company said it is making investments in its e-commerce capabilities that will support two-day delivery to more than 90 percent of U.S. households by the middle of fiscal 2018.

Sally Beauty partnered with Amazon Prime Now to test a two-hour delivery model in the Dallas market. The beauty retailer now has two stores on Amazon with brands offered including Palladio, SheaMoisture, Infusium 23, Miss Jessie’s, Ardell and Orly. Sally Beauty is also working on expanding their loyalty program.

The efforts behind physical stores and e-commerce are expected to help bolster Sally Beauty’s results. For the most recent fiscal year, Sally Beauty posted net sales of $3.94 billion, down 0.4 percent year-over-year. Same-store sales were down 0.7 percent. The company said hurricanes, especially Maria, affected full-year numbers by about 20 basis points, the company said.