“Barber shops in essence are bringing sexy back.”

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Great article from Salon Business!


Whether you’re opening a new barber shop or hair stylist business and need to write a business plan, or are just curious about the industry’s market trends, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled and analyzed all the key statistics you need: market size, market forecast, state level market distribution, useful financial metrics, and a list of the most successful barber and hair stylist shops in the US.

Key Information on the Barber Shop Industry
Between 1972 and 1984 market analysts reported a 0.8% increase in barber shops annually. For the next decade however, the typical barber shop showed a decrease in attendance and sales, perhaps because many of them closed, as owners began to consider their occupation to be outdone by full service hair salons. The salon industry was booming in the late 1980’s, with an ever increasing market size, and continues to do so even now during tough economic times. But many barber shop owners stuck to their guns and managed to stay afloat when others closed their shop doors. For those who hung in there, there was still profit to be made; however the owners keenly knew that alterations and changes were in the near future if they were to keep in competitive company with high scale salons that had more to offer than just a quick hair cut.[1]

What salons offered that many barber shops did not was atmosphere. As the metro sexual male came to surface in the 1990’s, it seemed it wasn’t only women that were seeking an experience while getting their tresses trimmed. Men too wanted a place where they could kick back and relax and enjoy being pampered. The kind of pampering one can only get in a salon. Barbers and salon employees often wear multiple hats while at work. They serve not only as the keepers of our hair, but also as our confidents, therapists and pseudo-friends, much like that of neighborhood bartenders. For the period of time consumers spend in a hair chair, what they are really paying for, other than a nice hair cut is the social aspect that goes along with hair care.

In a Jonpaul’s market research analysis and study recently conducted it was found that 85% of men who visit salons and barber shops were seeking not only a trim but additional services such as hair coloring, shoe shines, nail procedures, tanning, and shaving services. Many of the then barber shops were not equipped to handle the growing needs of the male consumers. As professional male began to take a keen interest in hygiene, now wanting the whole kit and caboodle, barber shop owners scurried to improve and expand their services to keep up with the competition.[2]

In 2012 the typical male is much more concerned with his appearance. Additionally, the professional male population is simultaneously the breadwinner, meaning they have and are willing to spend a vast amount of their earned dollars primping their looks. This study showed that like women, men are currently seeking barber shops that are close to their home, offer a wide variety of services and are competitive in pricing.

While both barbers and hair stylists require the same number of logged hours prior to becoming licensed (1800 in almost every state) it was clear that salons offered as many as 12 services while their counterpart barber shops only offered 8. Thus began the trend of barbers sending their employees and in many cases, themselves to additional training on more complex services.[3]

Where barber shops in the olden days struggled was that they were a fast tracked shop specifically designed to get men in and out quickly. The wait time for a walk in customer was mere minutes compared to the average salon wait. And because barber shops could turn customers around quickly and the essential tools were minimal, the cost was effective-much less than that of a salon. As it turned out though, with men increasingly needing to improve their looks for business and pleasure, they were willing to pay a little more if it meant the end result was a polished look.

So barbershop owners all over the world have begun to comply with consumer’s demands and owners are getting back to basics by sending out their stylists to trainings on the most current and trending hairstyles and cutting techniques. Many are investing in turning their once male dominated shop into one that is unisex. The overall decor now mocks that of a full service salon, with brightly colored chairs, hip music in the background and the latest and greatest hair tools. Barber shops in essence are bringing sexy back.

Competing with the latest industry trends, old school barbers are learning the tricks of the trade in all things coloring, cutting, buzzing and extending. Many though are still hanging on to their skills in retro-styles dating back to the 40’s and 50’s as today’s men are seeing a comeback of the oldie but goodie flattops, box cuts and side parts that Bogart made famous.