In a bid to keep pace with the innovations in hair, R+Co has added a new personalized feature to its affiliate program for professional hairstylists to use for their clients.
The affiliate program, which is called R+Co Love and exists within a mobile-friendly website, allows stylists to send to their clients’ emails a list of the products they used when styling their hair. Clients can then click on the email link and be directed to a pre-populated basket on R+Co’s e-commerce site. A new feature within the program, called Hair Mail, now allows R+Co stylists to offer product recommendations to customers, allowing stylists and salons to offer a more advanced and high-touch service and thus increase the likelihood of a product sale.
“It’s like a new age prescription pad,” said Dan Langer, R+Co President. “This feature extends the retail opportunity outside of the salon into the client’s phone or email box, for when they’re at home and actually take notice of products and do their shopping.”
In 2020, R+Co revamped its affiliate program. It previously had an opt-in affiliate program for salons since 2014. It automatically enrolled all its 2,000 salons in the program last year, and the brand increased commissions from 20% to 40% for stylists. So far, there have been over 30,000 transactions through R+Co Love, according to Langer. Glossy’s previous reporting stated that R+Co salons partners earn 10-30% of their overall revenue by selling products. Langer said the professional channel is R+Co’s largest sales channel, but declined to cite specifics figures.
Langer said he believes there is an important link between customers and professionals, especially when it comes to product recommendations. In a world in which a person can share a few bits of information with a brand like Function of Beauty, Prose, Strands Hair-Care or Gemmist and receive back a customized formula, it begs the question of what role a professional stylist now plays. While Covid-19 reaffirmed to many that cutting hair is a bonafide skill, the care of and attention to hair on an ongoing basis has shifted to oneself or other people outside a stylist’s domain. To Langer, Hair Mail helps bring back the authority back to a stylist while still offering customers a sense of customization.
“Personalization is most effective when it comes in tandem with an expert recommendation,” Langer said. “It’s not enough to just have personalization unless it comes with information on how to use those products or why you should use those products.”
R+Co is not the only brand to try and establish this happy medium. Olaplex launched an app with this connection in mind in February, as did John Paul Mitchell Systems in Oct. 2020. In addition, there are apps from Kevin Murphy, Wella, System Professional and Kérastase. R+Co previously had a customer-facing app in 2015 but it was discontinued.
Ryan Matzner, a co-founder of app developer agency Fueled, said personalized features are often the result of a standard decision tree rather than a sophisticated algorithm. Whereas a customized brand can offer thousands of potential formulas, there are limitations with pre-existing products.
Creating an app versus a mobile-friendly webpage is also a pretty significant decision, Matzner said. If it needs to work offline, if someone needs to take photos, and if it needs to be fast and smooth to operate, then it can be better achieved through an app. However, it can also be a costly affair, ranging from $50,000-$300,000 to develop, depending on how robust the app is, he said.
“If this is something that a professional is going to use — so it’s installed once, but used many times — then the value starts to shift toward potentially [deciding to have] a real app,” he said.