Hair Care Today...$41B Tomorrow: The Growth of a Category

Hair Care Today…$41B Tomorrow: The Growth of a Category

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Hair care is a rapidly-growing category for multi-location brands. As part of our future-forward series, we’ll cover categories that are on the upswing in the MULO (multi-location) ecosystem, along with trends that will impact individual brands’ survival and growth.

Intellectual capital has value, but what’s ON our heads can be as lucrative as what’s in them.

Although the hair grooming market took a serious cut during the pandemic, it is now growing again — up 17 percent in 2022. It’s expected to hit $41B by 2026.

And the hair care market is not just limited to the natural locks that grow from our scalps. Beard grooming, hair and lash extensions, blow-dries, waxing, and eyebrow shaping services fall into the hair care category.

A future post will specifically cover the men’s grooming market, which has skyrocketed recently.

First, a little history. The concept of hair styling dates back to ancient Egypt, but the 1920s in the U.S. marked the first wave of salons, with 25K opening during that era. Hair removal also has ancient roots.

Fast forward to the 2000s. The number of haircare franchises and multi-location brands is significant. And, as in much of the retail industry today, stores within stores are commonplace. For example, Ulta Beauty offers haircare services within some of its 1.4K locations, and SmartStyle has chairs and stylists inside Walmart.

Among the multi-location hair styling brands that have the most stores in the U.S. are:

  1. Great Clips: With 4.4K locations in the U.S. and Canada, it was founded in 1982, making it one of the originators of the multi-location hair salon.
  2. Supercuts: Founded by hair stylists in 1975 as a unisex salon, this brand now has 2.2K locations.
  3. Sport Clips: The franchise has 1.9K locations. They have salons in all 50 states and target men and boys.
  4. Fantastic Sams: Launched in 1975, this brand was originally called “Incredible Sams” and, like many other multi-location salons, allowed for walk-ins. They now have about 800 locations.
  5. Snip-its: Targeting kids starting in 1993, this multi-location salon has about 65 locations.
  6. Cost Cutters: Now owned by Regis Corporation (which owns other multi-location salons, including Supercuts), it brands itself as an affordable, family-friendly salon with 300 locations.
  7. Cookie Cutters Haircuts for Kids: Another children-centric salon, this brand declares, “Haircuts are fun,” Its website is built primarily around its locations and customer experience. The brand’s Facebook page says it’s the fastest-growing kids’ hair salon.
  8. Floyd’s 99 Barbershop: A barbershop franchise founded in 1999, Floyd’s has more than 120 locations, and its name is a reference to the old-school men’s gathering place for haircuts and conversations.
  9. Lemon Tree Family Salons: The original concept for this unisex chain was formed in 1964, and the brand has grown and rebranded since then. It is the oldest and largest franchise on Long Island (New York).
  10. Rooster’s: “Look and feel like a 20th-century man,” the brand’s website declares. Stores are located in 27 U.S. states.

Local search and loyalty programs, as is a consistent consumer experience across locations, are especially important in this category.

When traveling on business or a family trip, trimming or styling your hair may be necessary in an unfamiliar market. Locating your favorite salon brand nearby (and being able to book online) is critical.

Unlike many other multi-location categories, hair salons are very dependent on the quality of work of individuals. You may have a bad experience with a server but still, return to a favorite restaurant brand. Or, a rude or uninformed salesperson may annoy you but not stop you from shopping at a retail store. But a poor haircut could have long-lasting implications for brand loyalty.

Therefore, multi-location hair styling brands must be as meticulous at managing their local reputations as they are at wielding scissors and measuring hair color!



Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.