Iconic hair care brand Paul Mitchell has a new partnership with PS Salon & Spa, which will bring its products into hundreds of senior living communities nationwide. The move could be a sign of what’s to come, as national brands increasingly make their way into senior living.
PS Salon & Spa, a division of PS Lifestyle, currently operates more than 780 senior living spas and salons in 36 U.S. states. Its relationship with John Paul Mitchell Systems began this past September, and the relationship progressed relatively quickly, PS Lifestyle CEO John Polatz told Senior Housing News.
PS and Paul Mitchell formally announced their partnership on Monday. It involves, among other things, PS bringing Paul Mitchell product lines into all of its senior living salons and Paul Mitchell educators training PS employees on best practices.
“We just loved the idea that a beauty company would be involved in partnership with a company that brings dignity and beauty [to seniors],” Heather Hutchens, John Paul Mitchell Systems’ vice president of strategic planning, told SHN.
PS Salon & Spa is equally as excited.
“We know [Paul Mitchell is] a household name. We know that the senior consumer and the adult child consumer both know the name,” Polatz said. “That’s also going to benefit the senior communities that partner with us; [they can say] ‘our salon is a Paul Mitchell salon.’ That’s a big win for everybody.”
Back to Paul Mitchell’s roots
Paul Mitchell is far from the first household name to have found its way into senior living. For years, many similar partnerships have been solidified in senior living dining rooms, according to Deborah Howard, CEO of Massachusetts-based senior living resources organization Senior Living Smart.
“There’s a history of leveraging national brands to reinforce quality in the dining department,” Howard explained to SHN. Some communities, for instance, might advertise that they serve Starbucks coffee to residents, or that their chefs only cook a specific, well-known brand of chicken that residents may have cooked themselves when they lived in their own homes.
This type of name recognition is meant to serve as a source of comfort for residents and their families, Howard suggested.
“Anything that makes the [senior living] experience more like home and your lifestyle more like living at home is going to translate really well into senior living,” Howard said. Residents, in other words, don’t want to have to give up products they’ve enjoyed for years just because they’re moving into senior living.
“What they really want is to move into a community, but maintain all the things that are good about being at home,” Howard said.
This was one of the reasons it made sense for Paul Mitchell to consider entering the senior living market, Polatz suggested.
Investing in a differentiator
There are bound to be more brand-name partnerships on the horizon in senior living, Traci Bild, CEO of senior living sales and marketing firm Bild & Company, told SHN.
To make this happen, though, the senior living industry needs to assume the role of educator.
“I personally don’t think enough of these [brand-name] companies are even aware of the purchasing power [in senior living],” Bild said. “I think there will be many, many more of these partnerships…if we are more proactive and we approach them.”
Well-known beauty companies besides Paul Mitchell, for instance, might still not realize the opportunity that senior living communities present.
“Professional beauty companies, in general, are not attuned to senior demographics,” Polatz said.
In reality, though, senior living has “an amazing vehicle to reach their target demographic,” Bild explained. More well-known companies appear to be grasping this reality now, including shaving giant Gillette.
For senior living companies considering a partnership with a large, well-known brand, it’s important to remember that purchasing name-brand products tends to be a costlier move than purchasing generic products.
“You have to be willing to pay a little bit more sometimes for those brand names, but I do think it’s a differentiator,” Howard said.
PS Salon & Spa will not be changing its salon service pricing structure because of its partnership with Paul Mitchell, Polatz noted.
“We’re excited to include Paul Mitchell products and deliver higher quality services to our senior customers, while maintaining our existing prices,” he said.
It will ultimately serve the senior living industry well to be affiliated with household names, Bild added.
“With that mainstream branding comes more awareness,” she said. “That’s what’s so exciting about it.”
Written by Mary Kate Nelson