This new retailer’s executives on creating a members club 2.0
The launch also comes with a unique hair typing system — and comprehensive insights on the new generation of consumers.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
November 10, 2023
Leading Nordic haircare distributor Headbrands has worked B2B ever since the start, in 2010. When the times and consumer behaviour are changing, there was also room for investment in the end consumer with the launch of the brand new ecom, WKNO.
— It all started with a salon service where we wanted to help the salon or the hairdresser to be able to connect to the customer, offering products between salon visits, Sandra Andersson (pictured right), Ecommerce Manager and head of WKNO, explains. With our expertise, we now want to claim a title as hair experts, when we see that the end consumer actually wants to learn about hair.
According to her colleague, Cecilia Gelkner (left), a civil engineer in technical biology and ingredient and product expert at WKNO, the end consumer is not just more well-educated but is also seeking solutions that are made specifically for their personality.
— It could be for your face shape, your skin, hair, or body type, she says. On TikTok, we see a lot of filters to figure out the colour palette that is most suitable for every skin type. People are searching for solutions, not only well-studied and science-based but also specifically for themselves and for their unique needs. This is a trend that we think will translate from makeup and skincare into hair. People will be looking for solutions made for the chemical composition of their hair type, porosity, texture, and such, wanting to create a routine based on them. That’s where we come in, the experts.
The team started discussing how to design their own hair care routine. The most common way is to move towards the standard hair typing system, called the Andre Walker method, with 1A, 1B, 1C, 2A, 2B, 2C, etcetera.
— This is a great system but if you’re zooming in on 10 people with the same ’3C hair type’, they can have so different needs chemically in their hair, says Gelkner. So, we have taken this standard system and modified it, adding another dimension which is porosity. That’s something that a lot of people have heard of, but they don’t really know what it is, what to do with it, and how to figure out what their hair porosity is. So, we added it and we divided these new 48 hair types into six categories. We strongly believe that identifying a hair type based on both texture and porosity is a much larger step towards a perfect hair care routine than just finding the texture. When you are categorised in one of these after answering eight questions to identify your hair type, you can start exploring the perfect products for you.
— After finishing the test, you can read about your hair type, and get general hair hacks and recommendations that can be applied to a lot of different brands, says Andersson.
— Not only the ones that we sell — these are generic, says Gelkner.
— There’s more about the ingredients and what the product can do than the brand itself, Andersson adds. We’ll start with this in Swedish but will expand to the Nordics.
What other retail trends do you see?
— I believe that in retail, Andersson continues, a prominent trend involves elevating employee expertise to an expert level. This strategic approach underscores the commitment to offering customers a trustworthy and dependable experience. Knowledgeable staff significantly enhance the shopping journey, cultivating trust and satisfaction among consumers.
— To build a community outside of your webshop and bring it together with your webshop is the magic recipe. Discounts will not be on top of our list. Instead, to get the customers to be a part of something and feel like they get the expertise that they need.
— The foundation of a genuine community isn’t just about shared interests; it’s rooted in purpose. It’s essential to know who you are, who you’re speaking to, and where they resonate most with your message. Once you’ve carved out that niche and found that unique voice, stick to it. Because a community isn’t built overnight. It’s crafted with consistency, commitment, and an unwavering belief in your purpose. This isn’t just about intuition; it’s about passion. It’s about knowing your purpose so profoundly that it becomes an unyielding force driving you forward.
A members club 2.0?
— Yes, people are hungry for information right now, they want to learn more, says Gelkner. But they’re being bombarded from all different angles. Some of it is brand-specific, and some of it is somebody who just wants to go viral. We want to be a place to turn where we talk about how things actually are — and we are also willing to admit when it’s something that we don’t know. My personal mission in my business life is to know the most about hair more than anyone else in the Nordics. That’s a long journey, and I’m buying books about hair and the chemical compositions of hair, learning stuff every single day. So, most of the questions that we get now, we know the answer to.
— We are currently finding ourselves in a time where new information and facts are highly sought after. I believe that the landscape will soon be ’information-saturated’, and the consumer will become more discerning and sceptical. They will seek out more reliable sources of information, favouring transparency and expert advice over fleeting trends on social media.
— It’s about trust towards the end consumer in this jungle with information, says Andersson. The focus is not about selling products, it’s about sharing the information that we have in-house.
But you do want to sell products.
— We also want to sell products, of course, but that’s not the main goal with WKNO.
It’s also to strengthen the brands that you work with, using it as a marketing channel.
— Absolutely, says Andersson.
Speaking of brands, next out for the B2B side of Headbrands is to introduce Upgrade to the Nordic market.
— They have straightening irons and curling irons with infrared technology built into them, using a unique technology, called Bioinfrared, Gelkner explains. They’re offering electrical heat tools at a lower temperature than a standard tool while still getting the same results because of the heat transfer that you get from infrared radiation. It’s building on the important beauty-tech trend combined with another huge one — the preservation of hair health.
— In the earlier days, we bleached the hair to the max to get the icy effect. Now, it’s about getting the hair shiny and healthy by bringing engineering technology into hair care and it’s not any longer only Dyson who does this. They don’t work with air but with radiation, so it’s different but in line — an amazing technology.
What other macro trends within hair do you see?
— An overall one is the ’natural’ trend, says Gelkner. Just as the ’no makeup-makeup’ trend focuses on enhancing natural features in an undetectable way, the natural hair care trend includes adding and enhancing the natural movement of the hair. This could involve using heat styling to add subtle waves or natural-looking curls and using products that enhance and define curls, waves, and even straight hair. The goal is to create a look that looks almost air-dried rather than styled.
— We also see a shift from the mentioned ’unnatural’ cool-toned hair colour toward warmer nuances including gold and copper, pigments that are naturally found in the hair. In addition to the preference for warmer hair colours, we see a rising demand for low-maintenance hair colouring and techniques. Examples are balayage and highlights that are blended with the natural shade of the hair. This allows for regrowth without a sharp contrast, further contributing to the overall ’undetectable’ natural aesthetic.
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