A Year-In-Review for the Beauty Industry

On issues of public health, safety, the economy and others, 2021 has been a year rife with uncertainty and 2022 promises little difference. While the beauty industry was hit hard by the pandemic, salon, spa and barbershop owners worked to adapt and overcome challenges to see success this year. To continue this pattern of success in the year ahead, it is important to review the impact of COVID-19 on the industry and what popular trends emerged.

How Covid Impacted the industry

If 2020 saw an economy defined by business shutdowns, 2021 was all about a race for the vaccine, reducing case and death counts and economies reopening. Needless to say, consumers were concerned throughout. Salon and spa guests are more focused on cleanliness and safety than ever. In a recent article for Glossy, Rosi Ajjam, Aveda North America GM and SVP said, “Guests are more concerned about cleanliness and safety. Safety is the new luxury, and clients are holding salons to a higher standard, even as its restrictions are lifting.” The movement towards safety and social distancing also saw many consumers shift to making purchases online. Salons, spas and barbershops adapted their offerings to include technology and touchless treatments; and many plan to maintain some form of their new health and safety protocols into the future.

COVID-19 also had a heavy impact on employment in the industry. Early shutdowns saw many beauty businesses let go of personnel. When those businesses were able to reopen, many employees did not return. According to a report from the International Spa Association (ISPA), employment in the spa industry is estimated to have fallen by 20.6 percent, largely among full-time employees.

The pandemic also brought a new awareness to mental health and wellness for employees. Business owners looked for ways to celebrate staff’s diligent work, while prioritizing their mental health. Salon Today reported efforts such as company retreats, award programs for staff members who hit and exceeded goals, and closing for the day for rest, recuperation and celebration.

2021 Trends

Employees were not the only ones looking to emphasize mental health and wellness in 2021. The impact of COVID-19 on the beauty industry revealed shifting priorities amongst consumers.  With the stress of a global health crisis weighing on many consumer’s minds, they turned to self-care regimens to help boost morale. For many beauty businesses, this meant shifting offerings from treatments focused on appearance to treatments that focused on care, such as aromatherapy, meditation and sleep therapy.

The focus on care and wellbeing helped the continued growth of CBD within the beauty industry. Consumers searched for ways to relax and unwind and, as a result, many in the industry incorporated CBD. While the trend seems to be here to stay, industry members should be careful to follow all rules and regulations related to CBD, and to only market benefits that are scientifically supported.

Finally, consumers and employees alike drove environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts throughout the industry this year. Consumers demanded transparency surrounding where their products came from, and employees looked for benefits that support ESG.

As the pandemic continues and the world adapts, those in the industry will need to closely monitor trends and use data to predict the next opportunity to provide new offerings to clients. By adapting and keeping a client-first mindset, industry members can find success.

Kathy Lopez, Account Manager for SASSI, the Salon and Spa Specialty Insurance program at Brownyard Group. She can be reached at klopez@brownyard.com.

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