eSalon: Even Hair Has Gone Digital

eSalon is well positioned to win big in the new digital world of hair care.

Hair care is a very personal experience. People often feel a connection to their hair, and even their hairdresser. Your hair is one of the few things everyone sees, no matter what you’re wearing. Besides, let’s face it, the $11.6 billion industry is driven by both seasonal color trends and the desire by millions of people around the world to hide their grey hairs.

Brand SelectionHow can such a personal, important part of someone’s life – their hair – transform to digital? eSalon is winning the digital transformation in hair care through digital personalization – taking that personal experience you would receive in the salon, making it more consistent and in some ways even more personalized, and providing education and purchase models that allow people to save a great deal of money. Through their use of data, their processing of color in pictures, and most importantly their availability of an “in-person” meeting for those people nervous about coloring their own hair.

I’ll admit I was extremely nervous the first time I colored my own hair. What if it doesn’t turn out the color on the box? What if I accidentally miss a spot? What if I apply the color inconsistently? I didn’t have the colorists at eSalon to rely on. And, admittedly, the first few times were a bit rough. I never really managed to get it right, never getting the exact color I wanted. I also usually had a few spots that did not get colored as dark as the rest of my hair. What was I doing wrong? Was I was misinterpreting the pictures that were supposed to be so self-explanatory?

My alternative to generic over-the-counter options? Salons. Once I was no longer a student, I went iSalon Hairnnocently into my favorite salon at home for my first “cut-and-color”. Two hours and $160 later I had hair that… actually looked a lot like what I was doing with the $10 Garnier product. And even worse – I had a gray hair that never took the color! Despite the 16x price increase, and the gray hair, I continued to go to salons for a color roughly every six months. I could not justify going more frequently due to the price tag. I just couldn’t stomach the stressful 25 minutes between doing my own color from a box and waiting for the result, nor could I stomach going to a salon more regularly.

Like millions of women in the U.S. and around the world, I was stuck in the giant hole between my two hair color options. eSalon targets women like me through education, personalization, and convenience. They target the women who want more control over their end hair color, want a product that they feel confident will work for them, and want to look good. Who would have thought a hair color product could differentiate itself based on its data?

eSalon selectioneSalon knows what you want. Do you tend to get the same color every single time? There’s a subscription model for that. Do you want education at first? Chat with a professional to get instructions and advice. Is it your first time coloring your hair? They can send a professional to
your house to guide you through it. Do you go lighter for the summer and darker in the winter? eSalon can make sure you make the transition well, then get the same color consistently through the season. Do you like to stay ahead of the trends? They will be able to predict the newest color trends before your neighborhood stylist or P&G. And now, with their partnership with Priv, together with their product line expansion into shampoo and conditioner and other products, they will offer a full hair care solution.

The neighborhood salon is slowly being replaced by eSalon and Priv app. Custom ProductDo I need to color my hair, get it cut, and then have it styled for an event? Together they can either show me how to do those things myself and sell me the products, or they can send a professional to my house to do all of these things from the comfort of my own home. And they know which I prefer, so they will continue to refine and improve the model over time to my specific hair needs. Suddenly I have more of a personal, luxurious experience than my neighborhood salon, at a fraction of the price. eSalon will be a digital winner not because of its products, but because of its data and accessibility.

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Student comments on eSalon: Even Hair Has Gone Digital

  1. I hadn’t heard much about eSalon before but it sounds interesting. I wonder how their partnership with Priv will impact their trajectory. I think that going into the on-demand space makes complete sense for eSalon, but wonder if Priv is the right partner. Priv competitors such as GlamApp and Glamsquad focus mainly on hair, while Priv focuses on a wide range of services from hair to yoga and massages. While this allows them to cover a larger target market, it also gives them a reputation of spreading themselves too thin and not being particularly good at any service. They are often referred to as being the lower quality version of hair services when compared to their competitors and I wonder how this will impact eSalon. It certainly gives Priv a way to differentiate itself and hopefully will help both companies expand, but I look forward to seeing how far each company can take this and what the impact of their partnership will be.

  2. I wonder if there are more opportunities for a place like eSalon to expand their services and thus their value add. They can expand beyond hair color to other services that could potentially increase consumer engagement. Operating in a space that does not have a lot of digitization could be a huge opportunity for them to differentiate themselves in several ways!

  3. I found your post really interesting as I had not heard of eSalon before. The above commentors make some insightful points about the future direction of the company. To chime in, one potential target market that could greatly benefit from eSalon’s services is minority women. In a lot of places, including Boston, it can be really difficult to access hair salons that treat ‘ethnic’ hair because they are located outside of the city center. Many of them are informal and don’t offer the luxurious experience of a mainstream salon visit but they can charge a premium because of a lack of competitors. Although the internet has a wealth of tutorials on how to make fishtail braids, messy updos etc, hair advice for black and latina women and eSalon could fill the void.

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