Selling Wigs in the Untact Era
Wigs, the “main dish” of beauty supply, are a representative beauty item with high cost and high utility. After the pandemic, environmental changes in the wig market are accelerating. What is the reality of the change, and how should we respond to it? In order to search for even the tiniest clues to help resolve readers’ concerns, BNB visited several beauty supply wig sales or conducted telephone interviews to write a reportage on changing wig sales methods. Although to some, the contents of this on-site report may be obvious, we dare hope for owners to discover at least a little hint that can help them seek change and direction in this new era.
Wig Sale Trends During the Pandemic
Most of the beauty supplies that have been interviewed say that “wig sales increased during the COVID-19 pandemic,” and said, “When the lockdown was lifted, the local beauty supply became full with customers.” Consumers who hesitated to go to a beauty salon due to Corona and struggled with grooming their hair tended to conveniently solve hair styling problems with their next best option- wigs.
Meanwhile, it could be because customers are temporarily quite well off due to the government subsidies and additional unemployment benefits. At the start of this year, an additional $600 per person disaster assistance and an additional $300 unemployment benefit per week will be given. Then, for the time being, the beauty supply boom will continue, and wigs will sell well. But how long will this trend continue? When this period of overflowing liquidity funds is over, what will happen before us?
Changes in the Wig Market
1. The Untact—’NO Wig Try-On’
Most of the beauty supplies that have been interviewed say that “wig sales increased during the COVID-19 pandemic,” and said, “When the lockdown was lifted, the local beauty supply became full with customers.” Consumers who hesitated to go to a beauty salon due to Corona and struggled with grooming their hair tended to conveniently solve hair styling problems with their next best option- wigs. Meanwhile, it could be because customers are temporarily quite well off due to the government subsidies and additional unemployment benefits. At the start of this year, an additional $600 per person disaster assistance and an additional $300 unemployment benefit per week will be given. Then, for the time being, the beauty supply boom will continue, and wigs will sell well. But how long will this trend continue? When this period of overflowing liquidity funds is over, what will happen before us? The most prominent difference seen in the wig section after COVID-19 is that customers cannot try on wigs in stores. This is because of the risk of viral infections. Some guests complain, but most accept the rule. Owners say, “It’s easier to do business”. Before the coronavirus, owners have suffered with damages to wigs during customers’ try-ons. “I wish I could continue to do business in a No Try-on way in the future,” owners replied, but on the other hand, there are voices of concern. “If we continue to take the easy route, customers might be stolen to Wal-Mart, Target, or online stores.”
2. The Time of Diverse Fashion wigs and Mass Supply
The thought that first comes to mind when looking at a wig store is ‘In this wide world, there are countless wigs.’ In the past, most of the wig customers were middle-aged and elderly people trying to hide their hair loss. However, as wigs are now subdivided and accepted as a part of fashion, the customer base has greatly expanded to the younger ages. The days when small and medium-sized wig wholesalers were able to order, produce and supply basic colors and basic style wigs in small quantities are already in the past. After the big investors in the hair wholesale industry have entered the wig market, they are supplying popular mid and low-priced wigs in large quantities with a variety of styles and colors that can satisfy particular and subdivided consumer tastes. “The diversification and mass supply of wig products through large companies in the market is contributing to the increase of beauty supplies, and it has spurred the popularization of wigs by expanding it to all age groups,” business owners say.
3. Online Bull Market
Although the trend of consumers moving from offline to online is accelerating due to COVID, the phenomenon of online market encroachment is not an up-to-minute story. As you can see from the graph above, you can read the cross section from the statistics that the number of searches for ‘wigs’ on Amazon over the past two years has climbed about four times compared to two years ago.
Currently, the biggest online competitors of beauty supply are Amazon and Alibaba. But a more threatening problem lurks. Recently, even large Chinese hair manufacturers like Rebecca are selling directly to consumers around the world, including the United States, through their own online shopping malls. A beauty supply owner said, “If the Chinese factory sells directly to consumers, skipping the intermediate distribution stage, wholesaler and retailer, our offline retailers won’t stand a chance in price competitiveness.” He couldn’t hide his concern, saying, “It’s still insignificant, but if you consider the growing status of the online market in the era of untact, it’s not a matter to be taken lightly.”
How is the Current Wig Sales Evolving?
Instead of Wig ‘Room’, There’s a Wig ‘Aisle’
Starting from large stores, wig rooms are disappearing, and wig aisles are increasing. As you can see in the photo above, like other products in general, wigs are displayed in the aisle in the middle of the store. It is changing to a way in which the customer sees the wig displayed on the mannequin, touches it freely, and then picks up the item to purchase. The biggest reason for this change in the field is said to be “because the number of products of wigs has increased, it has become difficult to display in a limited space. Also, this method is desirable because customers cannot try-on anyway because of COVID, so there is no need to create a separate room inside the store.”
Wig Display Case Lowered to Customer’s Eye Level
Not only are the wigs brought to the aisles, but some large stores also display them only to a height that customers can reach. It allows customers to see and touch directly without the help of staff. Of course, the case of expensive wig products is an exception. It seems to be an ideal display method in terms of social distancing between employees and customers during the COVID pandemic.
Customers Personally Find and pick Products from the Wig Boxes Stocked at the Bottom of the Shelf
As shown in the photo above, boxed wigs are put at the bottom of the shelf by color so that customers can take out the wigs they want. If you have a small store with a small space, how about improving the accessibility of customers as above, at least for some of the most popular products? The owner emphasized what such a display method can also gain advantage of even from the standpoint of the store operation: “it is very convenient to manage the inventory of the product because the inventory is all on the shelves.”
Glass Display Rack
Among the wig shops the BNB reporter looked around, the most immaculate place was the showcase made of glass. The benefit of putting a wig mannequin in a glass display stand is that the glass itself is transparent and looks tidy, but above all, the light shines well through the mannequin through the transparent glass, making the wig look more beautiful. In addition, guests or staff can comfortably observe the wigs from all directions. In order to create a sense of neatness, the owner said “it is good to put only two or less mannequins in one glass compartment,” sharing his know-how.
Wig Section Next to the Clothing Section
The manager of the store displayed as above explains the reason, “If a full-body mannequin in the clothing section is displayed with a wig that matches clothes well, customers often purchase wigs and clothing at the same time.”
Small and Medium-Sized Stores Offer 1:1 Service
Large stores can achieve great effects in the untact era simply by having a variety of products and improving the displays, as mentioned above. However, this can be applied only in the case of large stores. In a beauty supply with a small space, the above display method is unrealistic. A small-sized store owner said, “I can’t neglect one-on-one customized service even in a pandemic because that’s the single advantage small stores have.”
In a small and medium-sized store that the reporter visited, wig products were displayed behind the counter, and the owner took out the product, carefully explained to the customer, and gave advice. The owner emphasized that “above all, it is the most basic to know exactly what the customer’s taste is and what kind of wigs they are looking for.” Another mid-sized retail store owner emphasized, “Since there are more regular customers than new customers, it is necessary to establish a good relationship and remember their preferred style in advance.”
Diversification? Or Choice and Concentration??
Perhaps it is a fundamental and patent idea, but if diversifying products is the strategy that large stores should take, then selecting and focusing on fewer products should be the strategy for small stores.“Large stores can never make enough profit by selling exclusively to neighbors near the store. You must make your customers come from afar. In order to do that, it is necessary to have as many kinds of products as possible. When people hear rumors that “there’s everything except nothing at that store,” customers don’t refuse to drive long distances. Since there is a wide variety of products, it is important to divide the display into compartments so that customers can easily find them.” (A large store manager)“As a small store is narrow, it is impossible to have all the various products in the store anyway. You need to have the basic color, the most popular product, and then mix some special products that suit the characteristics of the region and guests. Because the shelves are narrow, it is better to mix different colors and display them so that they look colorful and have a lot of types, rather than dividing them by product category.” (A small store owner)
New Technology to Help Sell Untacting Wigs, the ‘Wig Try-on Augmented Reality(AR) System’
Now that Wig Try-On is banned, augmented reality technology that can solve our concerns about customer service has emerged and is a hot topic. In short, it is a system that allows customers to put on a wig on their face on a computer monitor installed in the store. According to CV Quantum, which develops and distributes this technology, “there is a cost of $2,000 to install a computer hardware system and $100 per month for management.” He added, “If you install multiple units, we also offer discounts.” In addition, when the beauty supply owner wants to input a specific wig in the store into the AR experience system, he said, “You can simply add it by taking a photo of the wig with a smartphone.” One beauty supply owner had a positive reply, “If you install this wig try-on system in the store, you can continue to maintain the ‘no-wig-try-on policy’ even after the pandemic is over, and you can reduce the number of manpower in the wig section. It looks like it’s worth investing in.”
[Editor’s Pick] Pandemic Era, Recommended Wigs
1. Short Human Hair Wigs
Recently, the price of Chinese human hair wigs has been on the rise, and the price is still rising. Customers with thinner pockets prefer shorter wigs when choosing a human hair wig, rather than the relatively expensive long wigs.
2. Frontal lace wig with scalp-like tones
Since the pandemic, almost all beauty supplies have applied the No Return rule to wigs. At this time, ‘flexible’ wigs that customers can style in different ways are gaining popularity. Wig products with wide frontal lace with a skin tone similar to the scalp or products with 360-degree lace wigs are freely stylable, so consumers favor them.
3. Wig with Anti-Bacterial Functions
Even in the post-corona era, the fear of the epidemic will continue for some time. That’s why products with antibacterial ingredients attract attention.
How are Other Shops Selling Wigs?
Ryu Seung-Chul CEO (Fashion Tree, GA)
Wigs account for half of store sales
The wig business is a lot of work and difficult. Anyone can sell it, but it is difficult to do well. But it is irresistible. If you work hard, the reward will definitely come back. Wigs are a good product that feeds our store. The wig corner is only 1/7 of the store’s area, but the sales account for half. The secret? I have to say, I get rid of things that need to be removed from the shelves quickly.
Mannequins should be light
I prefer lighter weights. You need to take it out often, trim and touch your wig. You take it out more often than you think. Some have a rotating plate attached under the mannequin, but we don’t use it because it’s heavy.
Sunny Moon Manager (Chapel Beauty, GA)
During the pandemic, the basic styles sell well.
Maybe it’s because there are fewer gatherings such as parties due to COVID, but special colors are sold less than usual. The most common and seemingly ordinary things go well.
Natural “kinky” texture and sophisticated “creamy” texture are in trend
Yaki or crimp textures are the most popular these days.
What do you care about most when displaying?
Hygiene and cleanliness. I replace damaged ones immediately. Always style wigs displayed on mannequins carefully. That’s why many customers buy what is displayed on the mannequin right away.
Water should flow
If water is stagnant, it rots, and so does wig products. You need to quickly identify items that are not sold, items that are out of date, and items that have been discontinued and move to the discount section. There are many customers with shopping know-how who wait for the wig they wanted to wear to be transferred to the discount corner and come to buy it.
The separation between inventory management and store management is NO!
Sometimes large stores have separate people in charge of inventory purchase and store sales, but I don’t recommend it. Sometimes inventory managers can’t figure out what customers are looking for in a store.
Fair NO try-on policy
Some wig displays prohibit even touching. Regular and premium customers are no exception. I apply a strict but fair policy. I do try to express it softly so that customers don’t feel offended.
Kim Eun-ho, Owner (Miky’s Beauty & Wigs, GA)
Wigs- ‘People’ who sell well makes ‘Stores’ that sell well.
There is an expert manager with training and know-how in the wig section. They have a lot of experience with wigs, product knowledge, and customer service and knows exactly what your customers want. Regular customer management is also good. They’ve been running their own store for a long time in the past.
Don’t just stock popular products.
You can’t only get items that are popular from the salesman. That’s just being selfish. So I tend to order all the special color products that don’t go well. Because of the lack of store warehouses, my house is also full of goods. Thanks to that, I think I can receive popular items. Shouldn’t wholesalers and retailers cooperate?
‘A’ Owner(OOO Beauty Supply, OH)
Highlight your store’s unique merit!
There’s a competing large store nearby that is about twice as large as our store. To do business, you must have a certain weapon. It is difficult to survive without merits. Honestly, there is price bleeding competition. It is difficult to make a profit by selling wigs. If the store next door is selling cheap wigs, I can’t sell them at regular price, can I? So, our weapon is chemicals. These days, it is difficult to find a good chemical product. But we have good products by buckling down to secure them. We have all the chemicals imaginable. Customers come to buy chemicals, then buy wigs, too.
Installation of high-definition digital billboards for customer management
Not long ago, we installed a high-definition digital billboard on the street in front of the store building at a cost of 50,000 dollars, providing free advertisements of regular beauticians. The screen changes every 8 seconds. Since it is a place with lots of traffic, the advertisement effect is big.
Seo Dong-Sun Owner (Hair + Wig, MN)
All staff are wig professionals!
Our store does not have a sales representative who resides in the wig section. All employees are in charge. All employees, including the owner, are trained to have the knowledge and skills of wigs so that everyone can respond to customers. I think this has made customers feel that this is a ‘wig shop’.