*This post has absolutely NOTHING to do with knitting, much like the rest of my posts. I promise some knitting soon.*
Scene: The salon, my head looking roughly like a table full of Thanksgiving leftovers, big packets of foil all over the place as I get my highlights refreshed.
I’m chatting with the stylist and I can’t help but notice that this is one of just a few jobs where you routinely insult your customer in an attempt to make a sale.
Think about it. When was the last time you went into a salon and the stylist proclaimed “Oh my goodness! Your hair is in perfect shape! You barely need a trim!”
No, what you hear is more along the lines of “Oh dear, look at this hair. It’s so unhealthy! Here, let me show you our new deep end conditioning balm, a steal at only $19.99 for an eighth of an ounce.”
Or “You know, your hair is so dull. It doesn’t do you justice. It’s just ugly is what it is. How about a few highlights? That’ll make you prettier. We’ll frame your face, which will help to hide how fat it is.” (This is the one that got me looking like I was afraid of alien mind control rays, with my sexy foil look.)
And if you seem impervious to their hair attacks, they’ll switch to other parts of your body. “You know… you really need to get your eyebrows waxed. They’re… well… they’re like big old caterpillars stuck to your face. Do you even have eyes under those things? I can’t see them. What a shame…”
They play on our own self doubts. Think about it, we go into a salon wanting to feel pretty. Even if we’re just going in for a trim, we’re doing it to improve our self image. Which means that, for a few moments, we’re vulnerable to those attacks. We believe they stylist is thinking of us and not their own paycheck. We want to believe that getting that corkscrew perm with the highlights and new bangs will make us a whole new woman. Until we get into our car and realize we look more like a whole new poodle.
I’ve noticed other salespeople trying to use an altered version of this sales approach. Like those people who sell things from the little islands in the mall. Usually they’ve got elaborate displays and signs that say things like “As Seen On TV!!!”
One such sales person caught my attention (just after getting my caterpillars removed, actually) and proceeded to introduce me to the Steam Genie (or something along those lines).
“And it heats up in just thirty seconds, which is much faster than your iron, no?” (Have you ever noticed that ALL of these people talk in a heavy, generic European accent?) “So now when you’re doing your laundry you can be finished faster, giving you much more time to do other things.”
I informed the salesman that I wasn’t interested, since I don’t own an iron, so replacing it with a Steam Genie would mean I’d have to first go buy one, which seemed an awful waste of money, since I would just be replacing it. Best to just avoid the whole mess.
He was utterly horrified. “You don’t iron? But… how do you expect to attract a husband? How will you keep his clothes neat and wrinkle free?”
This was a new sales approach, I have to admit. I did pause for a moment to check and make sure that it wasn’t the 1950’s, but no, I wasn’t wearing pearls, a day dress and a neat little hat for my day out shopping. I thought about pointing out the rampant sexism that he’d just spewed at me in an attempt to sell a steam iron, but instead I smiled, told him that if/when I marry my husband can buy himself a Steam Genie if he’s that worried about wrinkles, and that somehow I’ll struggle to attract a man without one.
But see the cleverness of the attack? It’s subtle, smart, and might have worked on a less self-confident woman. Somewhere along the line the old saying “The customer is always right” has turned into “The customer has low self esteem, attack!”