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3 Key Hair Care Trends Shaping the Sector

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The hair care sector is evolving. Once renowned for one-size-fits-all products and "here comes the science" moments in its advertising, recent hair care trends - and broader societal changes - have pushed new startups into the space and prompted established brands to diversify their product lines.

How have these changes affected the critical process of engaging customers and getting the products they need and love into their hands?

Let's look at some of the impacts.

Hair Care at Home

Naturally, hair care trends and routines have always included a significant at-home component. Daily cleansing and maintenance routines are present, but tight schedules and daily commitments limit how much can be done.

Introduce remote working with minimal travel and those limitations are flipped upside down. Suddenly, freed from the burden of a commute yet with video calls popping up all over the calendar, the time we allot for health and hair care routines expands. The need to maintain a professional, positive look remains.

In an article for L'Officiel earlier this year, Hannah Amini writes that hair care became the new skincare during the pandemic. With salons temporarily inaccessible, she says, "many are taking otherwise daunting treatments into their own hands."

Errors are less important when we can control what conference call participants see, while the freedom to experiment with new ideas is encouraged by online influencers and brand partners.

In short, more adventurous hair care at home isn't a phenomenon that is going to recede as some workers head back to the office.

Emerging from 2020, we saw a number of trends that will impact the haircare industry for years to come. Some are the direct result of pandemic conditions, while many others reflect the more sweeping changes driven by social unrest and calls for equity.

Here are three of the key hair care trends and how they change things for brands in the sector:

  1. Customers are more aware of their hair type and how to handle it.
  2. Digital media empowers anyone to share their style, routine, products and tips.
  3. At-home routines make eCommerce channels and rapid, reliable delivery a brand asset.

Let's look at each of these trends individually and what they mean for your hair care brand.

1. Hair Type and Personalized Products

It's no secret that we love vibrant hair care brands that encourage self-expression. From the empowering example of Julissa Prado at Rizos Curls to the bold colors of oVertone, Capacity is proud to work with some of the brightest brands in the business.

What they have in common is a deep understanding of their customer and how hair type alters the care routine for individual preferences.

Curly hair is one prominent example, with care routines that were previously underrepresented coming to the fore as content creators and even regular customers taking to social media to share their creative tips to style curls. Products and brands that might once have lived only in salons and specialist stores are then popularized for online sales, making eCommerce channels key for any aspiring brand.

We saw the importance of such flexibility last year, where the ability to switch channels served brands well during the early days of managing retail in a pandemic.

2. Everyone Has Influence

Spending more time at home means more time to perfect the latest style your customer has seen modeled by professionals -- or simply one that is surging on social media. The latter is especially important, as it encapsulates how many sectors have moved beyond traditional influencers to allow almost any content creator to affect habits and purchase decisions.

The role of digital channels also connects with real-world operations in ways that might not immediately spring to mind. While the physical distance between a distribution center and your buyer might be large, how the former fills their order directly influences how the latter communicates about the brand across their favorite social channels. Deliver an exceptional customer experience and there's every chance that the buyer will post glowing reviews and video commentary. Fail to meet the high standards that you set online at the product delivery stage and it prompts a disconnect, which

The takeaway from all of these scenarios is that influence stretches far more broadly now and no single activity defines how your brand is received online. Haircare brands hold a special place in the daily routine of customers and they'll be quick to let others know when their expectations aren't met.

3. Frictionless Fulfillment Builds Hair Care Brands

With so much disruption last year, online shopping with dependable brands provided a source of comfort for many during the pandemic. The shift to Ecommerce has been accelerated by as much as 5x according to some analysts, with personal care products leading the way.

Categories like cosmetics, grooming, and hair care were already ahead of the curve when in terms of online channels, meaning the acceleration has emphasized the gap between brands who embraced their digital presence and those who simply dabbled around the edges.

What the hair care trends towards online shopping have also exposed is the real-world ability of brands to meet their digital promises.

Engaging content, vibrant visuals, and exceptional products can all be nullified by a negative order experience. Late deliveries, damaged products, or even just poor order tracking have the potential to undercut all the good work that prompted that order in the first place. This makes hair care order fulfillment even more important, as it becomes the part of the journey that delivers on a brand promise, figuratively and literally.

As with other product categories that promote personal care and self-styling, it's likely that habits formed during the pandemic will remain. Bolstered by newfound abilities and routines refined during months of practice at home, consumers will have the confidence to seek out new styles and remain loyal to brands that helped them reach this point.

One aspect to emphasize is the enhanced support role that many brands must now play to keep customers coming back. This requires the development of deeper relationships, more in-depth content, and finding new ways to get closer to customers, online and out in the real world. In-store experiences will therefore need to be more closely aligned with a brand's digital presence to ensure continuity and a seamless customer journey.

Similarly, we're likely to see more regular folks become influential in hair care marketing, perhaps even to the point of a company's best customers becoming brand partners in areas such as social media and content creation. User-generated content (UGC) becomes more than a testimonial in this scenario, as it takes on a key role developing closer ties to new buyers and building trust.

Finally, we also see closer ties with key supply chain partners as an essential part of delivering this seamless brand experience.

Service providers willing to go the extra mile to understand a hair care brand's value proposition and craft order fulfillment solutions that enhance them will be increasingly sought after. Cost-effective shipping and pick-pack systems will remain attractive but not at the expense of customer experience. All of the time, money, and energy invested in developing a strong hair care brand can be undone by a subpar order experience, making order fulfillment now much more than a line item in a service contract.

By embracing the hair care trends mentioned above and getting ahead of them with service partners who can deliver reliably and creatively, brands with popular hair products put themselves in a strong position to better serve their customers and grow during even the most disruptive times.