Do LGBTQIA+ Consumers Feel Represented in the Hair and Beauty Industry?

Vagaro, the leading salon, spa, and fitness software, recently conducted a survey across hundreds of LGBTQIA+ beauty consumers to gauge their insights and experiences within the industry.
Vagaro, the leading salon, spa, and fitness software, recently conducted a survey across hundreds of LGBTQIA+ beauty consumers to gauge their insights and experiences within the industry.
Courtesy of Seventyfour via Adobe Stock

Would you say that salons and other businesses in the beauty industry stand ahead of the pack when it comes to support and representation of the LGBTQIA community? What about where your salon stands?

The answers may surprise you. Vagaro, the leading salon, spa and fitness software, recently conducted a survey across hundreds of LGBTQIA+ beauty consumers to gauge their insights and experiences within the industry, and how businesses can apply these insights for the benefit of their clients. The results can help inform hair and beauty businesses who wish to be more inclusive how to maintain and improve practices in these spaces to foster such an environment.

Vagaro Chief Marketing Officer, Charity Hudnall says, “At Vagaro, we’ve long understood the importance of a truly diverse and welcoming beauty landscape which is why, some time ago, we created the LGBTQIA+ friendly tag for businesses to use to improve searchability by inclusive-seeking clients. This recent data further provides our team and our businesses with deeper insights into the diverse needs and preferences of LGBTQIA+ beauty consumers.”  

Here's five things the survey uncovered. 

1. A Welcoming Environment: The Majority Feels Represented

Given the artistic and fearless self-expressive nature of the beauty industry, it might seem like a natural haven for the LGBTQIA+ community. Vagaro's research largely confirms this! Of the 300 respondents polled, 65% of respondents (32% very represented, 33% somewhat represented) felt at least somewhat represented in salons. Comfort levels in expressing outward, or physical gender expression and appearance have also increased significantly (35% much more comfortable, 29% somewhat more comfortable) over the past 3 years.

However, there's room for improvement. Over a third (106) felt less represented, and 110 felt less comfortable expressing themselves authentically.

While the majority of respondents ranked both LGBTQIA+ representation in the industry and comfortability in gender expression favorably, the numbers show there is still room for improvement. Can we do better? Of course!

We know that inclusivity starts with creating a safe environment shaped by a workplace culture built around respect for all. Check. But what does inclusivity look like? Moreover, just what else did our research show? Quite a bit, as it happens!

Turns out that what interests this collection of demographics and influences them to book services and purchase products is, in one way or another, intertwined with the concept of inclusion.

2. What Influences Product Purchases?

So, what mattered among respondents when buying hair and beauty products, according to Vagaro's research? While affordability, quality and availability are top priorities for product purchases (similar to most consumers), other factors come into play:

  • Cruelty Free (32%)
  • Brand Reputation (31%)
  • Recommendations from Friends & Family (31%)
  • Inclusion & Representation of the of LGBTQIA+ community (27%)

These four factors are similar in that they reflect the customer’s perception of a brand, and its alignment with a customer’s values (which their friends and family likely share).

3. What Influences Service Purchases? 

Price was a major factor (59%) for booking hair services, followed by services offered and location. Interestingly, the next factors highlight the importance of inclusivity:

  • Representation of LGBTQIA+ staff (30%)
  • Recommendations from friends/family (32%)

This suggests that employing LGBTQIA+ staff and fostering a welcoming environment lead to positive word-of-mouth recommendations within the community.

4. Hair Identity

Perhaps the most interesting revelation, however, involves the significant role that hair plays in the lives of LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Hair plays a significant role in gender identity expression for 62% of respondents. This emphasizes the importance of employing staff who understand this connection and can accommodate diverse styles and requests.

Make it a point, instead, to provide gender affirming haircuts. A gender-affirming hairstyle is all about helping individuals transform their look to better express their gender identity. Providing gender affirming haircuts is not just giving a service. You are, in fact, playing a crucial role in helping someone express their true self.

Some quick tips:

Masculine Cuts/Styles: 

  • Sharp lines and angles: Think clipper cuts, fades and pompadours. These styles emphasize strong jawlines and facial features.
  • Structured shapes: Go for geometric cuts like squares and rectangles for a defined look.

Feminine Cuts/Styles:

  • Softness and roundness: Layers, fringes and waves create a more delicate feel.
  • Curved lines: These styles frame the face and enhance softer features.

Of course, offering a gender affirming service goes beyond the haircut itself. Lay the foundation first by:

  • Offering gender-neutral services to create a more inclusive environment. Instead of labeling haircuts or styles as men’s or women’s, simply create hair styles that match an individual client’s preferences and better express their identity.
  • Implementing a gender-neutral pricing structure that reflects your commitment to equality for all customers of all gender identities.

5. Beauty Service Influences 

Influencers for booking beauty services remained somewhat the same as for hair services, with price, number of services and location taking the top spots, followed by:

  • Customer Reviews (35%)
  • Recommendations From Friends & Family (34%)
  • LGBTQIA+ Representation (26%)

Customer Reviews & the Power of Representation

The importance of customer reviews is worth exploring here. Positive customer reviews hold significant weight, like personal recommendations. Since inclusivity with LGBTQIA+ staff is important, customers likely seek out reviews reflecting a welcoming atmosphere.

Actionable Steps for Your Salon:

  • Encourage customer reviews and respond positively to both positive and negative feedback.
  • Utilize the LGBTQIA+ tag on Vagaro for better searchability by inclusive-seeking clients.
  • Use and sell reputable products that align with LGBTQIA+ values.
  • Take a gender-affirming viewpoint for the services you offer.
  • Offer Gender-Neutral Services, with gender-neutral pricing.

Celebrate the vibrant LGBTQIA+ community and their contributions to your business and the beauty industry as a whole! Understanding what influences LGBTQIA+ clients to book a service or buy a product or how to market to this demographic, are small parts of the equation. Creating a welcoming and inclusive environment where everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves authentically is the first and most crucial step. Fostering a culture of respect benefits everyone – your team, your clients, and your bottom line. So, act today and show your commitment to inclusivity, 

More in News