New Square Survey Finds 1 in 3 Consumers are in an Open Relationship with Their Hair Stylist

26 Jun 2024

Clients want access to easy and seamless booking, a key decision factor for both trying another provider and remaining loyal

A new survey by Square analyzed the relationship between clients and their hair stylist, uncovering that 1 in 3 of consumers are in an ‘open relationship’ with their provider. The survey highlights the key factors that can either make or break long-lasting client loyalty in the beauty and personal care industry.

For those in an ‘open relationship’ with their stylist or barber, this sentiment was most common for younger generations like Gen Z and Millennials, along with men. These clients primarily faced operational and logistical barriers which caused them to visit another provider:

  • Difficulty in scheduling/booking their appointment (57%)
  • Services becoming too expensive (53%)
  • Either party moving (50%)
  • Stylist didn’t listen to what they asked (41%)
  • Personalities don’t mesh (34%)

After exploring other relationships beyond their primary stylist, Square found that 61% of clients regretted going to another provider. Given that many originally strayed for practical reasons, it’s no surprise that more than half of consumers (57%) went back to their original stylist, while 30% opted to stay with their new provider. Another 13% remain committed to playing the field, with plans to keep seeing new stylists until they find “the one.”

The survey also found that convenience and ease continue to be top drivers when consumers pick a stylist or barber. For clients that explored other relationships, they reported that they’d return to their previous provider if they had access to the following:

  • Easy rescheduling (82%)
  • Better communications between or before appointments (75%)
  • Online booking options (53%)
  • Loyalty discounts (52%)
  • Selling retail items (25%)

“Clients are incredibly busy and for businesses that don’t use seamless booking software, they’re missing out on an entire pool of clients,” Ashley Heywood, Health & Beauty Product Marketing Lead at Square. “Businesses need to make the booking process as easy as possible, all the way from making the first appointment to receiving automated reminders. All of this enables beauty sellers to look and feel professional, which helps uplevel their business with existing and prospective clients.”

Although a third of consumers are playing the field, Square found that 67% are in a committed relationship with their hair care provider. Among this cohort of committed consumers, 68% have been visiting their provider for 3 or more years, showing that for many, they’re in it for the long haul and invested in maintaining the relationship. There are many different reasons for the success of these long-term relationships, with consumers’ top motivators being:

  • Love the way their stylists cut and/or color their hair (94%)
  • Look forward to catching up with their stylist (87%)
  • Good price (86%)
  • Easy booking (85%)
  • Better communications between appointments (75%)
  • Stylist recommends products and/or other services for specific needs (59%)

“We are so grateful for our many loyal, long term customers. A lot of them essentially become our family,” said Dave Lechasseur, Owner of Savvy Salon de Barbier, Montreal, QC. “We see them on a regular basis, and they end up opening up to us. And Square has definitely helped us to nurture that fidelity and loyalty with our customers - it helps us keep in regular contact so that even when they’re not in the shop, they know we’re thinking about them.”

For a cohesive view of the beauty industry, Square also analyzed consumer behavior changes over the years, and how beauty sellers have adapted to these shifts and leaned into a growth mindset. Findings include:

  • Remote and hybrid work have altered consumer behavior. With the ability to work from anywhere, Square data found that Tuesday appointments are now more popular than Saturdays, while Mondays have also become more popular (from January 2017 - January 2024).
  • More sellers are leveraging cancellation fees to protect their bottom line. In 2021, nearly 5% of beauty and personal care sellers using Square Appointments had cancellation fees activated, and that number nearly tripled in 2023 (globally). For those with cancellation fees enabled, they saw a 21% decrease in cancellation and no-shows compared sellers that didn’t have it turned on, helping prevent loss of income.
  • Beauty businesses have leaned into selling retail items to maximize profit. For businesses who sold both services and products, rather than just services, these sellers saw 57% more in annual sales. Clients typically add 2 retail items when checking out whether online or in-person, driving increased transaction sizes (as of Q1 2024).
  • Subscriptions generate recurring revenue for beauty sellers. More than 62% of subscriptions remain active after 6 months, signaling strong appetite for these types of offerings as consumers continue to prioritize their wellbeing (as of May 31, 2024).
  • Convenience gets people through the door. Square Appointments data shows that 64% of bookings were scheduled outside of the typical 9-5 business hours. Seventy-five percent of clients book their appointments through an online booking site, showcasing the power of beauty software to fuel bookings no matter the time or place (for 2023).
  • Consumer appetite for beauty and wellness trends are always shifting. From 2021 to 2023, demand increased for russian manicures (+313%), scalp treatments (+100%), LED/Red light therapy (+76%), laser treatment (+64%), and brightening facials (+48%).

For a full analysis of the survey findings, download the report here or reach out to press@squareup.com.

Methodology
This survey was conducted online from May 2 to May 8, 2024 among 2,009 Adults in the U.S. and 1,002 Adults in Canada. The data were weighted to demographically reflect the makeup of the general population in the U.S. and Canada. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of +/- 2% and the margin of error among subgroups is greater. All subgroups highlighted in reporting have a base N size of 100 or more unless otherwise stated.

Square analysis is from transaction data from hundreds of thousands of beauty and personal care sellers in the US and Canada between January 2021 and May 2024.