PARIS — When Lindsay Owen-Jones was a young executive back in 1970, “we all seriously thought that by the year 2000, the industry would be 99 percent self-service. The incredible thing that I’m seeing over the last 10 years is this move back away from pure self-service.

“The fastest-growing [segments] right now are pharmacies, European-type pharmacies with salespeople who explain things, and beauty salons,” he said. “Salons were one of the biggest distributors of shampoo 60 years ago and then they disappeared and now they’re coming back. The fastest-growing segment of the hair care market is professional products in beauty salons.”

He added that the consultation-driven Vichy skin care brand “is exploding all over the world and we’re experimenting with it right now in the States. The fact that it’s even possible is already incredible. Who would’ve ever thought only 10 years ago that anybody would give you an environment to sell things with advice in an American drugstore? Yet hundreds of stores are lining up to be part of it because they sense the same thing as we do, that pure self-service has reached its limit and what people want is some advice. It’s funny, except it isn’t funny: People really do need people.”

This story first appeared in the May 5, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.