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The Boom of the Hair Industry

Updated on August 18, 2015

Its All About the Hair

The expression 'beauty is only skin deep' had to have been coined before the birth of hair weaves & extensions. In today's world the hair that decorates a ladies head is often all that matters. Some ladies spending up to R9,000 (+-850USD) on 1 instalment of hair which will last them little more then a month, if they're lucky.

In one part of the world, a ladies waste or burden is in another part of the world, a ladies pride and joy and will be procured at an unimaginable price. The hair market is booming all across the globe. Profits are soaring & Africa, deemed to be the golden cup of hair retailers, is still yet to be penetrated. Whoever is able to capitalise on this market i.e the right quality, the right price, the right time will have countless zero's at the end of their bank statement.

Why the hype? The reason that hair prices are currently soaring is due to the fact that like (but very much unlike) gold, silver etc it is a rare commodity. There is only so much real human hair in this world & we can't force it to grow any faster then it already does. As demand globally increases, the supplies are decreasing. With a lower supply volume the product becomes scarce and subsequently those that are able to procure and re-sell are fetching high prices for an item that they almost always get for next to nothing (literally). More on that later.

Hair Types

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Where Does It All Come From?

Funnily enough, it pretty much all, like everything else, comes from China. The Brazilian, Peruvian, Indian you name it - if you want it the Chinese have it.

The recognition that there was a market in the trade in hair started in India. Some religions call for the ladies to cut off all of their hair at a certain age. Once this market was recognised, these temples where the hair was cut became a popular spot for hair dealers to secure the hair and sell it on to the Western markets. Unable to keep up with the demand hair dealers moved to more conventional methods of procuring the hair but paying desperate people a pittance for their precious locks.

Funny as it may seem, not all of the hair has the same qualities i.e according to a popular South African e-retailer Luxy Locks, Peruvian hair is know to be light weight yet still carry a lot of body whilst Brazilian is the common favourite due to its durability, softness and low to medium lustre.

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Industry Size?

According to Huffington Post, the hair industry is a potential $500 Billion industry!

A 2009 documentary called Good Hair directed by popular comedian Chris Rock highlights the industries growth and investigates its entrenchment in black female culture. Even with the global recession the hair industry was one of the few industries that maintained growth.

The only other aspect of the industry to change other then the trend of natural hair over relaxed, is that there are now a lot more players in the market then ever before and more and more entering every week. With little differentiation from one product to the next, wheeler-dealers have also entered and are mixing real hair with fake strands simply to make a quick buck - this has a negative effect on other players in the market who need to prove the quality of their hair.

The industry is highly competitive and seems to be differentiated by a price and quality balance. Various tests have come about which customers can do at home to test the quality of the product including the 'burn test', 'wash test' etc.

Keeping The Competitive Edge

In an ever growing market how does one maintain a competitive edge? The same South African supplier who we mentioned earlier, Luxy Locks, has done so by incorporating a community upliftment scheme within their model. For every purchase of hair a % goes back into the community in the form of free hair do's - thus empowering local salons and also allowing people who usually would not necessarily be able to afford the hair to have it and feel beautiful, for as long as it may last.

Another way is by offering aggressive loyalty programmes or bundling the hair with other beauty items such as eye-lashes or other popular feminine items.

With such little differentiation possible, it is important for any hair retailer to know that a client who loves your hair, will be back if the price is right. With the magnitude of distributors and retailers on the market finding a good supplier is often like finding a needle in a haystack and once you find your needle, you need to hang onto it for dear life.

All Shapes & Sizes

The best quality hair is hair that can be straightened naturally using a hair straightener. All the cuticles being aligned means that the hair will not tangle once washed & 'Royal Grade' is a term used to let you know that the full bundle is from one set of hair only. The industry is unregulated though so you may never quite get what you expect to get and if so, there is little or no recourse, unless of course you've found your supplier that gave you a great product once, and you've decided to stick with until they one day maybe (hopefully not) let you down.

Hair also comes in all shapes and sizes. A popular style in Africa now is 'Fumi' which is frizzed hair whilst you also get such styles as 'Deep Wave', 'Straight', 'Body Wave', 'Loose Wave' etc all with their own attributes and style. Pretty much any style is possible.

The purchased bundle of hair is often seen as an investment and even once removed from the customers head, the weave will be kept for possible future use.

In Closing

This boom has not only been a delight for the retailers but due its complex installation the salons are also riding the revenue wave and finding a stream of income in its installation and also from removing it. By default they also stock the hair and add a mark up, rightfully so.

The hair industry might very well be the next big thing. Demand is increasing while supplies are decreasing. Suppliers are fetching higher then ever prices for something we all have naturally. If a hair dealer can find a steady and reliable source of 100% real human, royal grade, remy hair and they are able to successfully launch it to market (specifically the African), then they are in for a world of wealth.

If you would like recommendations on where to find such suppliers please leave a comment below and we would be happy to provide you with the details. Luxy Locks is a preferred South African supplier but also have recommendations for other markets such as UK, USA etc. Whole sale or retail - the industry is there for the taking if you'll just dedicate some time and money.

Thank you for taking time out to read my synopsis of the industry I love so much (-:

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