Guwahati witnessing behavioural shift in personal care trends, steep decline in physical markets
The economy has taken a hit since the GST (Goods and Services Tax) system was introduced. Almost all sectors of businesses have been affected because of these new laws and as a result of this, the people of Guwahati have become more aware and cautious as to where and how they spend their money.
Before GST, people had a lot disposable income and investing in personal care was never even a question; it was just something the citizens would indulge in regularly. However nowadays, personal care in our city is witnessing a diminishing graph.
G Plus spoke to the staff of several beauty parlours and hair salons in the city. 9 out of 10 said that the salon business is not as profitable as it was 3 or 4 years ago. The average flow of customers has decreased in recent years and there has been a significant impact on sales.
“The frequency of customers has declined a lot since GST was introduced. Before GST, we had customers lining our parlour and the waiting area used to be full all the time. Today, even the customers that you see here have come to avail free membership facilities. Business has definitely slowed down,” said a floor staff from a respected hair salon in Guwahati.
While different facilities have different costs (based on products used and expertise required), the average spending of a person, male or female is approximately Rs 750.
According to professionals at our city’s parlours and salons, the average number of times men and women visit a parlour is roughly the same, though men might be seen at salons more than women, as they go in for regular haircuts, shaving or cleanups. Both males and females also approximately spend the same amount of money when visiting these establishments, regardless of gender.
Competition is killing the salon business
The number one reason for the decline of personal care that most salon businesses mentioned is GST and the second is competition. This element has various factors that are all interconnected.
The first aspect of competition is amongst the various beauty parlours and salons inside the city. In present-day Guwahati, there is no shortage of hair salons or beauty parlours. There are more than 100 parlours in the city now and each area has either one or two parlours that its local residents frequent. Thus, customers are spoilt for choice, quantitatively speaking.
“Guwahati also has many specialized parlours now which cater to selected facilities. For example, some places specialize in hair colouring or other hair treatment options such as straightening, smoothening or keratin treatments. All of this also affects business as it is part of the competition,” said the owner and proprietor of Scissor’s Palace, a beauty salon located in Chandmari.
Spending habits of citizens shift from retail to online markets
Another aspect states that businesses in the city are facing major heat from online products that are cheap, easy to use and less time consuming. Using products bought online is easy for customers to use as they do not have to travel anywhere to get a high-end hair or skin treatment.
In addition to that, the product is also delivered directly to their doorstep; they can use it themselves in the privacy of their own homes and the prices are much more reasonable as there are no labour costs involved.
The next factor that ties into the previous aspect is the lack of time. Customers today are busy and time is money for everyone. Therefore, if people can save time in terms of traveling back and forth, that is money saved too. Thus, the availability of online products is an easy solution for people lacking time or trying to save money on added expenditure.
“Convenience is a big factor now. I mean, if I can get everything done at home, why go out? Traffic is so bad and ordering something online or calling someone at home is so easy,” said a customer in her mid-20s.
New trends emerging
Adding to that, the rise of the trend of home beauticians in Guwahati is also another factor that adds to local salon business’ woes. Since people have less time, they try to call a beautician or barber at home to avail their services and thus, save time in traveling as the traffic in the city can be a major hindrance to most citizens. Thus, it is all interconnected and part of a cyclic process.
Some common services that people prefer to avail at home include waxing, threading, facials, manicure, pedicure, hair henna and hair colouring. Guwahatians are also buying more products online, such as face packs, face masks, hair masks and hair colour, in addition to many cosmetic products. Websites such as Nykaa and Myntra sell many such products at prices cheaper than market rates and customers can also avail many discounts.
However, this is not to say that the parlour business in Guwahati is dying or that people are not investing in personal care.
Guwahatians are investing in personal care but the trends on how they are doing it and how much they are investing in it has changed, which in turn is changing the functioning of the whole industry.