Have you ever had an argument, maybe with a friend or your spouse, and after going round and round, you realize that you’re actually on the same side of things? Or that when you said a particular phrase it meant one thing
to your partner and a completely different thing to you, even though it was the exact same phrase? Isn’t it funny — and frustrating — that despite how well we know each other, the fact that we speak the same language, and maybe share a lot of the same experiences, acquaintances, and goals, we don’t always communicate very well? That’s how I sometimes feel when I’m working on the Big Book and trying to figure out the figures.
Saying anything with absolute certainty is difficult when you’re relying on an entrepreneurial industry that’s selfreporting this data. We look at the numbers in aggregate, but we also go in and look at individual records from our surveys. We can assume, for example, that someone who wrote “3500” as her pedicure price probably just forgot a decimal point, but what about the person who wrote “250”? Is she working at a high-end spa or did her finger slip on the keyboard? In either case, she’s what we call an “outlier” so we end up not counting her. And what about those contradictions? If someone says she works 20 hours a week but sees 40 clients, we scratch our heads.
We try so hard to provide data that can be relied on, backed up, defended, and used as a benchmark. And every year, we feel like we improve our methodology a bit more. This year, we think we’ve made some big improvements so we’ve actually gone back in time and re-created some of our prior data related to Market Size (see sidebar for a thorough explanation). In prior years we didn’t feel that we fully accounted for the size of the Vietnamese market and as a result may have overestimated the industry size in the early 2000s. So the information presented below is an adjustment to prior years, and flawed though it may be, it’s the best we have right now and we feel confident we’ve moved the bar up with respect to statistical standards.
We appreciate your support and your feedback on the data. I’m especially grateful to our sponsor, OPI Products, George Schaeffer in particular, who uses this information in his crusade to heighten awareness of professional nail care around the globe. This data has caused not only mainstream media but governmental concerns and even other industries to look at the professional nail industry with a higher level of respect. I sure hope you look at yourselves that way.
HOW WE DEVELOP THESE STATISTICS
Although admittedly imprecise and a mixture of guesswork, gut instinct, and survey data, developing these statistics is nonetheless complex, professional, and scrupulous. An explanation of how we come up with the numbers is explained below.
We did a survey in September 2008 of a representative sampling of professional nail technicians. We received 2,377 responses. We did another survey to Vietnamese nail technicians and received 791 responses. Most of the data in these stats is based on this survey; some figures are based on a survey done in 2007.
The Market Size Projection on this page is developed with a formula we’ve refined over the years, and it’s based on the average number of services performed and the prices for four key categories (basic manicures, basic pedicures, acrylic full set, acrylic fill). We multiply that by the average hours worked times the number of practicing nail techs.
Then we do the same calculation for the Vietnamese market because Vietnamese salons are known for having significantly lower service prices, and we add these two large totals together to come up with our Market Size Projection.
We have two ways of verifying this information, and when crosschecked, these figures still hold up: We can calculate the total amount of earnings by nail technicians and check that against their percentage of service tickets.
The second verification method is we know what nail techs pay for supplies and have a pretty good estimate of what their “cost of goods” is. Again, when we do that calculation we come up with a number for market size in the same ballpark.
That’s a lot of explanation and perhaps more math than you’ve done since high school, but we share it to show you the seriousness of the data, the scope of the project, and the true magnitude of this great industry of ours.
NAIL TECH DEMOGRAPHICS
WHICH TITLE BEST DESCRIBES YOUR POSITION?
- Salon owner (doing nails) . . . 34.7%
- Nail technician/booth renter . . . 22.5%
- Nail technician/employee . . . 14.4%
- Student/apprentice . . . 9.5%
- Salon manager/nail dept. manager (doing nails) . . . 4.9%
- Salon manager/nail dept. manager (not doing nails) . . . 1.8%
- Salon owner (not doing nails) . . . 5.2%
- Cosmetologist . . . 7.0%
One of the most fascinating aspects of the professional nail industry is its ethnic diversity, especially the dominance of one particular ethnic the group: the Vietnamese. See page 42 for more details about specific demographics.
Vietnamese . . . . 40%
Caucasian . . . . 37%
African-American . . . . 10%
Hispanic . . . . 10%
Korean . . . . 2%
Other . . . . 1%
HOW OLD ARE YOU?
- 25 or younger . . . . 9.1%
- 26-30 . . . . 14.8%
- 31-35 . . . . 20.6%
- 36-40 . . . . 18.9%
- 41-45 . . . . 14.5%
- 46-50 . . . . 10.9%
- Over 50 . . . . 11.2%
- Married with kids 54.6%
- Unmarried with kids 13.8%
- Married with no kids 12.8%
- Unmarried with no kids 18.8%
what is the HIGHEST LEVEL OF SCHOOL you have completed?
- Some high school 3.9%
- Finished high school 30.8%
- Some college 40.7%
- Finished college 18.1%
- Graduate school 6.5%
How long have you BEEN DOING NAILS?
- One year or less . . . . . 23.2%
- 2-3 years . . . . . 16.4%
- 4-5 years . . . . . 10.3%
- 6-7 years . . . . . . 7%
- 8-9 years . . . . . 5.2%
- 10+ years . . . . . 37.2%
When analyzing the professional nail industry it is impossible to look at it at face value. The industry has been dominated in the last decade by Vietnamese-owned business, known for a business model that has traditionally relied on discounted service prices, quick service turnaround, and no-nonsense amenities. That has evolved, though, especially in the last several years. The prices for basic services in Vietnamese salons have come up (this year the overall average service price increase since 2006 is 16%). That’s good news. When prices are reasonable, competition is fair, wages are livable, and profits are incentivizing.
The information in these two pages comes from a survey of 3,000 Vietnamese nail professionals (with 791 responses), conducted in September 2008. This year we expanded our questionnaire to include computer use (you may be surprised to see how Internetsavvy this group is) and primary training resources. If anything, there are lots of opportunities for growth in an already fast-growing salon community.
WHERE DO YOU GET TRAINING on new products and nail techniques?
I learn from reading beauty magazines 59.0%
I look up stuff on the Internet. 42.4%
I learn from other nail technicians. 40.1%
I attend training at tradeshows. 31.7%
I teach myself. 27.9%
I watch videos. 25.9%
Our dealer or product supplier provides education. 23.0%
From the salon owner or manager. 20.3%
I don’t get training. 10.2%
SALON SERVICES & PRICING
TOP 5 INTERNET USES for Vietnamese Nail Techs
- Learning about products 20.4%
- Ordering products online 15.1%
- Reading news about the nail industry 13.2%
- Getting information about my state board 10.2%
- Visiting nail-related websites 8.9%
How long have you been DOING NAILS?
. . . . . . . . . . Vietnamese Average / Industry Average
- One year or less 6.4% / 23.2%
- 2-3 years 16.0% / 16.4%
- 4-5 years 18.9% / 10.3%
- 6-7 years 14.5% / 7.7%
- 8-9 years 8.7% / 5.2%
- 10 years or more 35.5% / 37.2%
HOW MANY CLIENTS do you personally service each week?
- Less than 10 . . . . . 12.5%
- 10-20 . . . . . 10.1%
- 21-30 . . . . . 16.2%
- 31-40 . . . . . 16.2%
- 41-50 . . . . . 12.9%
- 51-60 . . . . . 10.4%
- more than 60 . . . . . 21.7%
GENDER Vietnamese : 72.8% female & 27.2% male
HOW OLD ARE YOU?
- Younger than 21 . . . . . 1.7%
- 21-30 . . . . . 13.8%
- 31-35 . . . . . 23.9%
- 36-40 . . . . . 20.5%
- 41-45 . . . . . 19.6%
- 46-50 . . . . . 10.4%
- Over 50 . . . . . 10.1%
What is your TITLE?
- salon owner 42.0%
- salon manager 7.7%
- nail technician 37.4%
- cosmetologist 4.9%
- esthetician 3.1%
- other 4.9%
Do you have a COSMETOLOGY LICENSE?
– YES: 57.4% – NO: 42.6%
Do you have a LICENSE TO DO SKIN CARE?
– YES: 41.2% – NO: 58.8%
Do you sell RETAIL PRODUCTS?
– YES: 65.2% – NO: 34.8%
Are you responsible for PURCHASING YOUR OWN SUPPLIES?
- Yes, I provide all my own supplies, including tools and equipment. 41.6%
- I provide some supplies, the salon provides some supplies. 13.5%
- The salon provides all my supplies, except my tools. 36.5%
- The salon provides all supplies, including tools and equipment. 8.4%
How would you DESCRIBE YOUR SALON?
- Full-service salon . . . . . 27.3%
- Nails-only salon . . . . . . 62.6%
- Day spa . . . . . . 4.2%
- Home-based salon . . . . . . 2.5%
- Mobile salon/spa . . . . . . 0.5%
- Resort/hotel/destination spa/salon . . . 0.3%
- Other . . . . . . 2.6%
Do you carry PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE for yourself or your salon?
YES: 54% & NO: 46%
How much is your MONTHLY BOOTH RENTAL?
$405 (average) [2007: $380]
- $150 or . . . . less 14.0%
- $151-$200 . . . . 8.1%
- $201-$250 . . . . 5.1%
- $251-$300 . . . . 15.4%
- $301-$350 . . . . 7.4%
- $351-$400 . . . . 12.1%
- $401-$450 . . . . 1.8%
- $451-$500 . . . . 9.9%
- More than $500 . . . . 18.8%
- “A percentage of my service income”. . . . 7.4%
How many nail technicians WORK IN YOUR SALON?
- Just me . . . . . 51.3%
- 2 nail techs . . . . . 20.0%
- 3 techs . . . . . 10.8%
- 4 techs . . . . . 5.6%
- 5 techs . . . . . 3.8%
- 6 techs . . . . . 1.8%
- 7+ techs . . . . . 6.7%
what is the SQUARE FOOTAGE of your salon?
- I don’t know . . . . . 11.0%
- 5,000 square feet or larger . . . 3.5%
- 3,000-4,999 square feet . . . 4.2%
- 2,000-2,999 square feet . . . 9.3%
- 1,000-1,999 square feet . . . 25.4%
- 501-999 square feet . . . 18.4%
- 101-500 square feet . . . 19.6%
- less than 101 square feet . . . 8.7%
2008 TREND WATCH: fl ashy pedicures, longer lashes, and stiletto nails
The vast majority of the service trends this year point downward — to the feet. Besides the upscale pedicures, you’re also offering “express service” pedis for lunchtime clients or those watching their pocketbooks.
The fastest-growing — and most profitable — new service this year is the super-embellished pedicure. The top-shelf pedicure can either be high priced because it’s a long, massage-intensive, paraffin-dipped, aromatherapy-infused, kitchen-sink service. (See our special NAILS Cookbook on page 75 for some great ideas for your own service menu.) Or, it’s because you might be embedding fabric clips in clear acrylic so a bridesmaid’s dress not only matches her shoes, but her toenails. (And the bride’s toes may have crushed abalone shells set in colored gel, so as to perfectly match the beach upon which she is getting married.)
Your clients have embraced heartily acrylic and gel toenails, often in a demure French, but just as often in a custom color or design. These low-maintenance looks appear high maintenance, and they’re the ideal loyaltybuilder for you.
You’ve gone “medi” with your pedis as well, focusing on “detox pedicures” that although dubious in efficacy have clients “soaking in it.” You’re doing pedicures built around removing callus buildup and heel maintenance.
THE CONSCIOUS NAIL SALON
We asked nail technicians and salon owners how important “green business” is or how much value clients put on “conscious values” and we got a sense that being green or “conscious” is quite important. Although the salon tends to be a trend-setting place and naturally more inclined to “new age” movements already, environmental consciousness is fairly mainstream. We asked whether the following statements were true for respondents. We look to add more specifi c questions in future surveys.
- I’m more aware of potentially dangerous chemicals in my products. __ 93.9%
- Being environmentally conscious is important to me.__ 90.3%
- I believe my environmental consciousness is important to my clients.__ 72.1%
- I have instituted some ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ business practices in my salon.__ 65.6%
- When I can, I choose ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ products.__ 62.2%
- I choose my salon products — at least in part — based on the manufacturer’s commitment to environmental issues.__ 47.9%
- I haven’t given much thought to this.__ 30.5%
- I think the ‘green business movement’ is a fad.__ 17.5%
We have seen a few other trends that show us nail techs are open to new ideas, continually looking to expand their service menus and learn new (fun) techniques.
One trend this year has nothing to do with nails. You’ve seen a shot at supplemental services by looking deep into your client’s eyes … and finding her lashes and brows wanting. Salons told us that they’ve added eyelash extensions, brow shaping, lash tinting, and retail lashes this year. Lash application requires no special license so it’s a natural for nail salons.
While it may be a flash in the pan, Fimo Canes (those clay fruit slices that so many of you are creating nail art with) have been enormously popular. Clients love the “Are they real?” feel to them and they’re as easy to do as applying a layer of acrylic.
Stiletto nails, those long daggerlike nails usually created with colored acrylic, have given you a fun new technique to learn (and given NAILS a couple of great cover concepts this year). For many of you, you haven’t sculpted nails with a form in years and you are loving going “old school.”
And though it may strike fear in the hearts of nail techs, Minx “nail coatings” slip on the nail and are hardened in place with the pass of a blow dryer. They debuted on the cover of NAILS in February and have picked up steam in the consumer press lately. Although they can be a tad tricky to apply, they are said not to chip and require no acetone to change.
What SERVICES are OFFERED IN YOUR SALON ? (2008)
- Manicures . . . . . 96%
- Pedicures . . . . . 92%
- Polish changes . . . . . 87%
- Nail art . . . . . 78%
- Full set acrylics (tip-with-overlay) . . . . . 72%
- Pink-and-white acrylics . . . . . 68%
- Full set acrylics (sculpts) . . . . . 66%
- Waxing (for hair removal) . . . . . 63%
- Paraffi n dips . . . . . 60%
- Gels/UV light systems . . . . . 54%
- Eyebrow shaping . . . . . 51%
- Acrylic toenails . . . . . 51%
- UV top coat service . . . . . 50%
- Colored acrylics . . . . . 49%
- Hair care . . . . . 47%
- Skin care . . . . . 45%
- Gel toenails . . . . . 42%
- Colored gels . . . . . 42%
- Facials . . . . . 40%
- Makeup application . . . . . 35%
- Nail jewelry . . . . . 34%
- Eyebrow tinting . . . . . 32%
- Wraps (silks or linen) . . . . . 31%
- Massage . . . . . 30%
- Fiberglass wraps . . . . . 29%
- Eyelash tinting . . . . . 24%
- Eyelash extensions . . . . . 23%
- Refl exology . . . . . 22%
- Body wraps . . . . . 17%
- Microdermabrasion treatments (face or body) . . . . . 16%
- Powder/glue extensions . . . . . 14%
- Airbrushing . . . . . 14%
- Tanning . . . . . 12%
- Ear piercing . . . . . 11%
- Microdermabrasion treatments (for hands and feet) . . . . . 11%
- Ear coning/candling . . . . . 10%
- Permanent makeup . . . . . 8%
- Wellness treatments or mind-body therapies . . . . . 7%
- Airbrush tanning . . . . . 6%
- Non-waxing hair removal . . . . . 4%
- Water therapies . . . . . 3%
- Non-nail airbrush treatments (e.g. makeup) . . . . . 2%
- Nutritional analysis or weight control . . . . . 2%
- Glamour photography . . . . . 1%
- Body piercing . . . . . 1%
WHAT PRODUCTS ARE RETAILED IN YOUR SALON?
- Nail polish . . . 88%
- Hand lotions . . . 85%
- Nail strengtheners/treatments . . . 83%
- Top/base coats . . . 81%
- Cuticle treatments . . . 77%
- Nail fi les or buff ers . . . 61%
- Hair care . . . 51%
- Polish-drying products . . . 45%
- Skin care products . . . 44%
- Toe rings . . . 38%
- Boutique items (clothing, jewelry) . . . 33%
- Makeup/cosmetics . . . 31%
- Adhesives/glue . . . 30%
- Tanning products . . . 21%
- Personal implement kits . . . 20%
- Vitamins/nutritional supplements . . . 9%