Disruption in a post-Covid world.
Coming out of lockdown into a post-covid world in New Zealand, there was a huge feeling of positivity. Shopping local and supporting the businesses that we had sorely missed was high on the agenda! Not the VC-funded big beasts that notably had huge challenges with their supply chain during the pandemic, who were quick to take the wage subsidy and even quicker to shed staff as soon as they could. No. The shops we missed were on our local high street and are more than just shops, they’re the beating heart of our community. Coffee shops, bakeries, butchers, florists and hair dressers. The life and soul of our thriving village pre-lockdown. Oh how we missed our hairdressers!
So I have to say that I felt pretty despondent when I saw an article launching Zuru’s new shampoo and conditioner, Monday Haircare, for $9, aimed at disrupting the hairdressing industry. Zuru is owned by the Mowbrey siblings (Kiwis), and according to Forbes, the company is estimated to be worth $3 billion. The business domiciles in Hong Kong providing access to low tax rates. I feel a little aggrieved on behalf of Kiwi hairdressing salons, still reeling from Covid, that a multi-million dollar business is attempting to disrupt their industry. It doesn’t feel very Kiwi to me.
The co-founder of Monday, Jamiee Lupton, comments on their website “I’m a huge believer that every person, no matter their story, should be entitled to look and feel good. The lack of transparency and extortionate pricing across the beauty sector is what gave me the idea to start MONDAY.” As a business owner, I understand the need to balance out high margin products with those lower margin products and services. It enables businesses to be viable.
Does the hairdressing industry, still reeling from lockdown, really need disrupting? Do these stalwart businesses, who provide local jobs, valuable service and perform a vital social function need more competition from cheap alternatives? What did social media tell us the world missed so much in lockdown? Hairdressers! So much so that some salons opened at midnight as soon as the green light to open was given. Salon owners and hairdressers are local people in our community who put blood sweat and tears into their businesses, and I for one, would not like to see them disappear from our high street. Which is a real possibility when they are faced with exceptional market forces due to the pandemic, followed by unnecessary disruption from a multi-million dollar empire.
A couple of concerns immediately come to mind:
1. When hairdressers are on their knees post Covid, this disruption feels poorly timed at best, and a devastating blow that many won’t recover from, at worst.
2. At a time when most of us have committed to shopping and buying local, it doesn’t sit well with me that a disruptor is challenging our local hairdressers. The “race to the bottom” model has been one that consumers have bought into for the last 20 years, but lockdown changed that. Or so we thought. The reality appears to be harshly different.
The hairdressers I know are local, hard working mums and dads, employing other locals, to create businesses that are the lifeblood of our community. I really hope that consumers continue to support their local salons not only for hair services, but for hair-care products as well, as it’s this balance that enables businesses to survive and thrive.
Disclosure: I am an independent commentator not affiliated with the hair dressing industry in any way. All opinions are my own.