The perfect cut
Updated: 2011-07-15 12:34
By Fu Yu (China Daily European Weekly)
He spends most of his time teaching at the hair care academy in Beijing and says that the institute has been one of the mainstays of his revenues.
"Most of my students are hairdressers. But since they feel they are not good enough to satisfy their clients they come to professionals like me. They believe that an association with a professional brand like Toni & Guy, which has distinct ties to British culture, would work wonders for their business," says Chen, who was feted with an award for teaching at the Toni & Guy Global Annual Conference in 2010.
Such professional training services are by no means cheap. Chen's academy charges each student 6,000 to 8,000 yuan for a week's training. But the demand has been such that Chen says he has trained thousands of students nationwide so far.
In the salon business, clients are normally charged anything between 150 yuan to 1,500 yuan for a haircut or a new style depending on the name and skill of the hairdresser.
"Most of my clients are female film stars, models, TV anchors and some rich business people. I prefer to style their hair in such a way that it makes them look more feminine. Most of my clients believe that their hairstyle is an integral part of their image," Chen says.
Unlike Europeans, Chinese consumers prefer to use more professional hair care products because they believe it makes their hair glowing and smooth. That trend also seems to find weight in the fact that prices of such professional hair care products are usually much more than the haircut itself.
Helen Wong, administrative manager of CCTV-IMG Sports Management Co Ltd, is one of the new breeds of customers who frequent stylists like Toni & Guy. The 30-year old Helen has no qualms in spending money for services that makes her long straight black-layered hair look beautiful.
"Hairstyle is very important for my image and is the focal point of my style," she says. She goes to the hair salon twice a week to get a professional hair care treatment and a new hairstyle. Sometimes, for convenience and a cheaper deal, she chooses to use a cheaper hair salon.
In general it costs Helen at least 100 yuan to get a professional hair care treatment if she chooses to use L'Oreal professional hair care products and around 20-30 yuan for a new style.
But if she chooses famous hairdressers such as the ones from Toni & Guy and Tony Studio in Beijing, she would end up spending 10 times the general price for both hair care treatment and hair cut or new style.
Thanks to the booming hairdressing industry, hair care products, especially those from Europe, are also selling well in China.
Companies like the French cosmetics giant L'Oreal have gained from the beauty boom and now has three brands at different price points for hair salons in China. According to company officials, over 1,0000 salons in China use the products.
Alexis Perakis-Valat, CEO of L'Oreal China, says that according to the company's findings, though the normal Chinese hair is stronger, it has lower hair density and hence more susceptible to damage.
Chen from Tony & Guy says some Chinese hair salons are different from their counterparts in Europe. They have started to provide more services to customers like face and nail makeup and other beauty services.
By offering the overall styling services, some hairdressers can become bigger celebrities. Li Dongtian, also known as Tony Li, is one such pioneer in China.
Li set up the first Tony Studio in 1999 to offer styling services. He became famous for helping Lu Yan, China's top supermodel, to present her oriental looks to win admirers on the international stage
Li says the Chinese people used to go to the salon only to take their haircuts and they considered it as a basic need to be done every three to five weeks. Now the Chinese are seeking more personalized services in salons. "Customers want to know how to match their hair by wearing the make up. They want to get a pleasant experience staying at the salons, reading magazines, drinking coffee and listening to the latest trendy music."
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