Business

Philippines Barber Salon Industry Game Changer: SWAG PH

American & Philippine International Business Development Group Partner To Launch Game-Changer Barber Salon Concept Prototype in the Philippines

“The Philippines’ Masa Industry is the future –of the world. Don’t underestimate them. The Philippine Masa will hit the market like the Recession hit the United States…a rare financial-watershed moment in history when the rules of yesterday no longer apply. It will be, the largest transfer of wealth in Philippines’ modern history. Those who don’t wake-up to its reality over the next two decades will lose big! And, not to mention its inherent benefits… They will miss an amazing Filipino cultural renaissance period live, in the making. We at KA&CO America, along with The Tiongson Group, intend to be there.”
-Kareem Jackson, Founder & CEO, KA&CO America

The ‘Trickle-Down Theory’ is seemingly working in The Republic of the Philippines. The country has had the largest upward-surge in its modern day history. In the Philippines trickle-down economics works in many ways, partly due to the fact that the ‘rich’ and gainfully-employed do spread their wealth. Unlike in the United States, successful (management-level and above)Filipinos do hire drivers, maids, assistants, nannies, and take care of their families. Therefore, when the rich get richer; in many ways, the poor and not so rich level-up incrementally as well.

Though for decades financial focus and investments have been targeted to the Philippines’ Mega rich (many of which are not true-Filipinos) and wealthy foreigners, the emerging Masa market is slowly gaining well-deserved recognition.

The Philippines’ Emerging Industries: with millions of new BPO Industry workers, educational and vocational demands, surges in farming and agriculture due to exportation and increases in national morale, real estate (many formerly rice field owner families), the Tech Boom, banking and internationally-focused business development and standardization, it was inevitable that the Beauty & Grooming Industry would see a spike as well.

The Beauty & Grooming Industry in the Philippines has ignited a boom which has been heard all across the world. As global brands and manufacturing companies such as Olaplex, Brazilian Blowout, ORLY, Mizani, L’Oreal, Revlon, Wella, Andis and Wahl scamper to penetrate this untapped market of beauty-seekers, business developers also seek a peace of the action.

In the Philippines, one of the few –and fastest growing – under and non-college grad required professional industries, is the beauty and grooming industry. With over 15 million barber and beauty shops, as well as, an army of barbers, stylists and juniors throughout the country, the multi-trillion peso Mega industry ranks in the top 5 careers: along with real estate, BPO/call centers and food & beverage (F&B). (Comparably, a $75 Billion industry in the West.)

Also, according to The Philippines’ Department of Labor and employment (Filipino: Kagawaran ng Paggawa at Empleyo, commonly abbreviated as DOLE), barbers, hairdressers and beauticians are in demand and are occupations which top the list of hard-to-find employees.

Barbering/Hairdressing, jewelry making and land surveying have replaced nursing and care-giving as top jobs in demand overseas, prompting the Technical Education and Schools Development Authority (Tesda) to open new ‘introductory’ courses covering these professions.
“We believe that there is a high demand for jobs in the fields of jewelry making, land surveying and barbering both in the Philippines and abroad,” Tesda Director General, Joel Villanueva.

However, unlike in the United States and other Western countries, customers request a limited menu of services. Subsequently, barbers and beauticians are not required to possess individual business licenses, more than 1,000 training hours; cosmetology or barber ‘college’ credentials, non-employee independent business licenses, nor cosmetology certification. This is a huge advantage for Philippines-based stylists and barbers who are self-taught, which means they can work in a shop and/or salon after a simple skills assessment by the owner(s) and/or manager(s).

For barbers and stylists in the Philippines, who are looking to level-up, gain credentials, or work in prestigious salons, there are very few domestic avenues for respectable education and training.

However, one of the most-popular and respected institutes is, The Ricky Reyes Institute which expresses that ‘in haircutting, for instance, students [who desire to be Ricky Reyes Graduates] have to undergo graded practice sessions, first on a head of yarn glued to a piece of paper, then on a mannequin with human hair. After mastering the different techniques with these exercises and getting a passing grade, they can move on to actual practice.’

“We have beefed up our training sessions to make sure our students are fully equipped with the proper skills before they go out into the real world…we also invite foreign experts to the school to conduct seminars for highly specialized topics.” – Hair Guru Ricky Reyes.

Subsequently, the disadvantage –according to DOLE- is that these self-taught professionals may lack the etiquette, professionalism, commitment, practical assessment and ethics backgrounds required by foreign owners, as well as, mid to high-level Philippines-based shops and salons. Basics, such as time management, cross-contamination, sleeping on-the-job and proper uniform/gear are typically learned in an institutional setting.

In addition; according to the same DOLE Report, ‘many [stylists and barbers alike] possess unrealistic expectations of high-salaries.’ Due to selectivity in recruitment, most barber shop and salon vacancies take over 3-months to fill as owners become increasingly critical of applicants.

Additionally, shop owners tend to ‘over’ staff in an effort to diminish the value/liability of any one single stylist or barber; to avoid losing sales due to their unprofessionalism. Ultimately, this popular, nationwide staffing strategy hurts the barber or stylist as they –technically- earn less and tend to acquire bad habits: such as a ‘tamby’ or sleeping on the job and over-socializing amongst themselves in the shop; not being client-focused nor service-oriented.

The American-style ‘booth rent’ or ‘rent-a-chair’ shops are also becoming increasingly popular. Savvy stylists and barbers whom are confident in their ability to market themselves and retain clientele; but do not want to/or are not able to finance their own shops, deny a salary and/or benefits and simply ‘rent or lease’ the chair in a shop. After they pay their ‘booth/chair rent’ the rest of their sales (if any) are their profit. The may also have their own tax, DTI, licensing, business calling cards and AD campaigns, and are seen as entrepreneur/owner stylists and barbers rather than ‘employees’ of the shop.

Just as with tattoo artists, barbers and hair stylists have been thrust onto the forefront as the overall Philippine Economy booms.

Today, millions -and millions- of people in the Philippines have entered the workforce ranging from domestic staff, to service, entrepreneurship and the professional fields; such as, IT, medical and S.T.E.A.M. disciplines. Subsequently, with the Philippines’ new 11th and 12th grade senior high school structure, there is a spike in college enrollment as well. This new gainfully employed market; their student-aged children and siblings, as well as, their families are all beneficiaries. And, they all want to look great and successful.

Conversely, this new economic wave is slow to catch on in the marketplace. As 90% of the barbershop and salon developers continue to scamper to create yet another ‘high-end’, exclusive, padded-priced, saucy and prime shop to cater to the top 10% and top 2% of the market; there remains an increasingly huge void in the marketplace.

Black American and Filipino-Chinese fusion flagship barber salon, SWAG Barber Salon & Boutique was created as a test-market franchise concept and set out to satisfy the void by offering one of the nicest designed boutique-style shops in the market.

SWAG Barber Salon & Boutique, received a warm-welcome from more than 1,000 Philippines-based customers; or ‘Guests’ as they like the call them, in their first 90-days of business (SWAG PH opened its doors August 12th, 2017). SWAG PH has a 5 Star Facebook rating (/SWAGSalonPH) and is ranked #2 Best Barber Salon in Bulacan, Philippines by Google America.

SWAG PH is the countries newest Masa shop style, complete with the highest-service standards possible, family-friendly, quality-products, yet, the lowest priced and Masa-centric shop concept in the country. With a West Coast, urban American, hip-hop vibe, music videos, 2 lounge areas, SWAG Philippines-handmade and all-natural pomades, SWAG shampoos, conditioners and beauty/grooming products, along with free beverages, fresh brewed coffee service and even on-line bookings (www.SWAGph.com).

SWAG PH is poised to be the Philippines hottest new franchise and/or chain and the only one positioned to directly-rival the Masa or regular shops –not the big shops like Davids, Brunos or Reyes.

The Jackson Family from the United States(KA&CO America, www.KareemAntonio.com), coupled with, The Tiongson Family in the Philippines (The Tiongson Group), have been partners in their international business development, IT, marketing and publishing ventures for nearly a decade. They’ve consulted and worked with US Ambassadors, celebrities, Philippines DOT, hundreds of businesses and entrepreneurs in the country and around the world, published a dozen lifestyle magazines, a radio and a TV Show all promoting Philippines lifestyle.

Now; in an effort to prove the skeptics wrong, they have set out together to innovate the beauty and grooming industry by raising the bar, for low-end and/or ‘Masa Market’ barber shops and salons in the country. The forgotten 90%.

“At SWAG, Our MISSION is…
…to democratize the Philippines’ Grooming & Beauty Industry
by bringing highly-skilled, full-service, top-quality products,
signature service, stylish boutique-style shops
and professionalism, at the lowest prices to the community at-large.
Ultimately, to deliver the charming and warm-welcoming service standards only experienced by Philippines rich, to our guest.”
–Kareem Jackson, KA&CO America Senior Partner, SWAG US Senior Partner
& General Manager

In the Philippines, of course the ‘Beauty Industry’ lead by Icons like Vicky Belo drips of glitz, glam and the Mega rich. Glam Divas such as Cory Quirino and Kris Aquino have dominated the visual market of Philippine beauty for a generation.

However, what most of the world doesn’t realize is that for low to mid-level employees –especially management levels, beauty and grooming is required for both interviewing, as well as, employment –for men and women alike.

Therefore; in terms of economies-of-scale, it does not make sense that the shops who cater to this massive hard-working demographic, are not the ‘nice’ shops. It is bewildering: why, the industry does not see the value of the masses (aka The Masa). Ego gets in the way of growth and ultimately, the consumers, mainstream barbers and stylists suffer.

Not surprisingly, the ‘Hipster’ P200-500+ haircut shops are the new trend. When applying, many barbers’ first question is often “How much are your haircuts?” looking for a high-end clientele –not people in need. That selective approach actually goes completely against the true-calling of a barber or stylist. A stylist or barber possesses a passion for making people look and feel their best.

A good barber or stylists has the ability to change a person’s life. Therefore, it should be available to all –especially the Philippine masses, who are on a quest for life-changing opportunities.

A ‘great haircut’ boost your self-esteem, promotes higher confidence and can help you to land a great job or promotion; which can be life-changing. But, that ‘exclusive shop’ business model which has grown so popular, usually benefits the shop owners as less is considered more and ‘status’ –not popularity, market share, nor profitability- become the focus. It also red-lines or marginalizes the ‘regular’ barbers/stylists and creates a huge –unnecessary- wedge between the two professional communities.

However, 90% of the Philippines population cannot afford those shops, and are limited to the P50 shops, and are void of the quality of service they deserve for their hard-earned money.

Marketing Fact: For the consumer making minimum wage, the P50 or P100 haircut ‘feels’ the same as the P500 haircut to a rich or gainfully employed person. The same with the P750 or 1,000 rebond vs. the P3,500 rebond.

Price should not, equal quality when it comes to beauty and grooming; as it is in the ‘service’ industry. Price should actually equate to quantity; if a client has more money, they may avail more services or upgrade to a premium product –however, the ‘service’ should maintain a standard.

SWAG PH has set out to create the first truly-masa centric barber salon brand which equals quality and to take the ‘price’ out of the marketing equation.

While extremes are always needed in business, healthy, great looking hair should be available for all at any price. The differentiating factor, therefore, should be the brand, style, the time and/or the multiple services. Due to the fact that many cannot afford the ‘proper services’ recommended by professionals, many Philippines-based customers wear the same ‘look’ as everyone else, have damaged, over-processed and/or under-maintained hair.

In addition, most of the truly-talented barbers and stylists are self-taught and inherently passionate. These professionals cannot gain employment nor ‘rent-a-booth’ in exclusive shops, and therefore, they too are disenfranchised. The service standards, self-promotion, marketing, etiquette and disciplines learned at those high-levels never reach them, but should be taught to all regardless of the level of their shop. Once again, the ‘rich’ get richer and the poor are left behind.

Shop concepts such as the SWAG PH flagship, test-market franchise concept, are very innovative. Their core belief is that “Success and a Great Look are for everyone…” and all should have the benefits of the ‘industry standard’ no matter the price of the cut, service or social status of the clientele.

The SWAG PH Concept, bypasses the ‘Reyes’, ‘David’s’ or ‘Brunos’ and competes head-to-head with the local shops. The SWAG PH Concept actually level-up the market and industry at-large and delivers the same –if not better- quality of experience for less than many low-end shops even do.

At SWAG PH for example, on their in-shop menu, (yes, they have an in-shop menu) haircuts are only P50 and P100; P40 and P80 with their SWAG VIP Card, rebonds start at P750, hair color is only P350+ for men and P500+ for women, and popular Olaplex Balayage color treatments start at P1,500. In addition, VIP’s can get an additional 20% discount and/or free upgrades.

The SWAG PH Slogan: “Get More, For Less…Guaranteed.” implies that guests can get all the healthy hair services they need (not just want), such as organics, Keratins, Brazilians, Olaplex and/or hair spas, for less than standard service prices at other shops.

SWAG Signature American Service Standards such as chair swiveling, 20% VIP Discounts, free beverages, free “SWAG Always & Forever Ganda/Pogi” maintenance services; such as hair spas, line-ups and wash and sets within a week after most services keep guests coming back!

The SWAG Business Model operates on the long-term mindset of larger market share, coupled with little or no standby time in the shops. Then, their lower prices, garner market share and economies-of-scale kicks-in. When the dust settles and the clippers and scissors are down, annual gross sales are believed to be the same –or more- as their local competitors’ shops or even a more expensive, yet less popular shop.

SWAG PH guests enjoy free beverages, soft drinks and coffee service. As well as, free shampoos and conditioning, blow drying and styling. In an effort to promote ‘healthy hair’ to the market, select SWAG PH guests also receive free upgrades (a P250 value) to SWAG Organic products such as rebonds and hair color.

The SWAG PH business model is simple: lower prices, higher-quality and better-services, equals; more customer loyalty and more services per customer. A business-model adopted from the American beauty industry, which, over time, promotes healthier hair, a more attractive customer base, increased customer loyalty and staff tip levels, not often seen in the mainstream markets.

Additionally, SWAG PH usually recruits from mainstream or Masa shops and prefers to train and groom them. However, for professionals not use-to working with foreigners or at high-end shops, the services and standards can be daunting. Needless to say, it is not easy to be a Certified SWAG Pro Stylist or Barber and adhering to the seemingly strict time management and service standards turns away more than are hired. However, those who are able to rise to the occasion, do very well, enjoying higher tips, more regular customers, a air-conditioned, well-designed shop and international exposure.

Ultimately, the Philippines Masa Markets wins big, as shop entrepreneurs compete for their business. The long-term affect would be a more empowered low and middle beauty and grooming market which are able to bolster the same confidence as their high-end counter parts. As well as, an inherent level-up of the professionals who work in these ‘regular’ shops.

Most can easily imagine getting –or giving- a great experience when paying P500 (that’s equivalent to $100+)for a haircut, or up to P8,000 for a rebond/perm and color treatment (Equivalent to $250+). However, imagine getting –or giving- that same experience, plus additional complimentary maintenance for the same P40 or P1,500 (equivalent to $25 or $85).

You can learn more about SWAG PH products, services, fill-out an on-line employment application and get franchising information at www.SWAGph.com or at /SWAGSalonPH on Facebook.

For development expertise, marketing and design consulting for your barbershop, salon or other business please visit www.KareemAntonio.com

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