Salon Blog

Events Salon Retail Strategies: A Brief History of Shampoo

Shampoo, one of the most important and basic tools of the salon professional, is a product that we probably don’t spend much time thinking about.  We usually have a couple of options available at the back bar that we gravitate towards, but when you consider how the shampoo market has developed over the last 50 years, you realize that we are light years from where the product started. 

Modern shampoo made its debut in the 1930’s when synthetic surfactants first became available.  Even as early as the 70’s, the emphasis was on finding shampoos that could cleanse the hair more gently, without stripping out all of the natural oils.

However, shampoo has come a long way, especially in the last 20 years, when we’ve seen a huge proliferation in the number of options and types of shampoo available. In the 60’s, most women still visited the salon once or twice a week, so at home they used only dry shampoo.  In the 70’s, Vidal Sassoon showed women how to style their own hair, and this freedom from the salon meant that women spent a lot more time washing their own hair, and became interested in types of shampoo.  And of course we all remember the Clairol Herbal Essence shampoo ads of the 80’s when advertisers started to communicate to women that shampoo was much more than just a utility item.

Today, the U.S. shampoo industry is estimated to have an annual volume of approximately $1.4B.  According to Symphony/IRI group, of that total, $455 million of that was sold through drugstores and $620 million through food stores.  The remaining $330 million was distributed between “other outlets;” that means mass merchandisers and salons.  So there is certainly room for salons to increase their share of this business!

Consumers now have a huge variety of shampoos to choose from, marketed by hair type & condition, hair color, or frequency of use, among other attributes.  Since the array of options is so large, clients should be turning to their styling professionals for guidance. However, judging from the numbers, most consumers still purchase their shampoo from grocery and drug stores.

As styling professionals, we should be doing more to educate clients on science of shampoo, and why it can be worth it to spend a little more on a high-quality product that will produce the desired result. Virtually every client that we see needs shampoo, and since they have to buy it from somewhere it might as well be from your salon.  Give your staff a refresher class in basic cosmetic chemistry and how your professional-grade products function, and you will see a jump in sales.

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