Is beauty recession proof?

Who hasn’t heard of job losses in the retail sector or restaurants closing down?  We expect these businesses to do poorly when consumer confidence is low, when unemployment is rising and when consumers close their pocketbooks.  So can someone please explain to me why sales at endota salons are up?  Why Benefit cosmetics brow bars are sprouting up everywhere and why you still have to make a booking at your favourite nail salon? 

The answer is very simple: beauty (or at least some aspects of it) is recession proof.  Part of the story has to do with women in the workforce – many of whom are delaying getting married or having families – or even leaving home.  That means more disposable income and although times are tough, beauty is like dessert: one of those small indulgences we somehow seem to always have room for.

The other factor driving growth in this space is that while demand for beauty services may decline during weak economic times, penetration rates for certain services are still low.  Take for example the brow bar phenomenon. Brow bars offer women a very simple yet instantaneously transforming service at a “lipstick” price point.  Brows – some would argue are the new lipstick. 

The same can be said for nail salons.  At a very affordable price point women can achieve a very quick transformation – and at some salons an experience some could compare to a mini massage.  Oh and for the cost conscious, the introduction of Shellac has meant for a few extra dollars women can have a manicure or pedicure that will last around two weeks or more.

If you still don’t believe me, consider this: in less than two weeks some 10,000 members of the beauty industry are expected to attend the Sydney International Spa & Beauty Expo  which is taking place at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 August (

The Sydney International Spa & Beauty Expo is Australia’s the biggest spa and beauty event showcasing the latest products, treatments and equipment from the Country’s largest gathering of suppliers. 

The Daily Gloss had a sneak peek into this year’s program when we attended a pre-expo event at Fifty Four Park St Day Spa in Sydney’s CBD.   In attendance were some of the Expo’s headline artists and contributors including Mia Cassin Media Manager of True Solutions who are representing the exhibitors at the Expo.

Speaking about why some spas have successfully survived the tough times, Mia was quick to point out that those offering high quality services and cutting edge technology were proving the most resilient, “Savvy spas are on the forefront of business by using certain brands that show they are industry leaders, not followers” Mia explained. 

It shouldn’t surprise then that leading edge technologies and techniques will once again be a major focus of this year’s event.  The program includes seminars by Melinda O’Rourke, Director of MO Luxury who will speak to the topic of how to inject luxury into your offering.  Melinda is the former Country Manager of Prada and Chanel and we expect her discussion will be in high demand. 

Also on the podium will be Megan Armfield; Senior Makeup Artist at Becca Cosmetics, one of the Expo’s main stage stars and Brow Artist Jazz Pampling who will be conducting two brow shaping seminars.  I strongly encourage practitioners to attend Jazz Pampling’s talks.  Jazz is the secret behind some of Australia’s best brows  – apparently she is responsible for Samantha Harris’ stunning yet natural look eye brows (apparently every week!). 

Those looking to nail the competition should go along to see Nail Competition Coordinator Tracy Boyle who will bring her international nail industry expertise and who will also be judging this year’s awards.

Finally, there is no doubt in my mind that expos like Sydney International Spa & Beauty Expo should be essential for any service provider in the industry.  Staying ahead of the curve, offering the latest technologies and the highest level of customer service will help a salon weather the tough times, but it will also provide upside for when the market eventually turns.


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