Gender Equality Comes to the Hair Salon


When you call to book a hair appointment these days, you may be surprised by the questions you are asked.  It’s no longer just selecting a cut, colour or wash and style; salons are now booking services based on hair length and time required to deliver the service.  This might also mean an end to the significant price difference between a haircut for men and one for women.

Women’s hair services have always been much more expensive than those for men.  This phenomenon was commonly referred to as a “pink tax” because of the arbitrary premium charged to women.  The premium was partly justified by the notion that women have more hair than men making their services more complicated.  The traditional barber shop was also a simple, less expensive environment in which to deliver services.

These days there is more diversity in men’s hair styles while many women are adopting extremely short styles, making the gender-related service distinction less valid.   Salons are now developing service prices based on the time and products required for their delivery.

Last month, the Parlour launched their own gender-neutral pricing menu based on this concept.  Owner Kate Burnett believes it’s only fair that clients are treated equally.  Clients select their own salon experience according to their hair length, colour, style and pampering service they seek.  Some refer to this drive for gender equality as a social movement, but it can be argued that it’s also better for business.

The truth is, gender doesn’t dictate the amount of time a service is going to take. Time is money, and so this should be the main variable driving hair service prices.   Short cuts often require more frequent maintenance to look their best, so reducing the price for these brief appointments may increase their frequency and also keep clients looking good, which can lead to more referrals.

The Parlour offers on-line booking, where the new pricing algorithm becomes clear.  Clients select their service following descriptions that clearly explain the distinctions between short, medium and long hair, with photos to illustrate the concepts, so customers make the appropriate service selection.  A male model illustrates the medium length hair, falling between his shoulders and earlobes while the short cut is demonstrated with a woman.

So far customers are on board.  Short- cropped female clients are enjoying a price reduction in their service, while some male clients are facing higher prices.   In either case, the pricing rationale is clear and fair, with the added bonus of allowing scheduling that better reflects the time required for each appointment.  This means less time waiting for your appointment leafing through hair style magazines to find your next look- better to come with a plan!  KG

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