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UK vs. South Korea: Hair Salons on Social Reflect Divergent Responses to COVID-19

When lockdown measures were announced in the United Kingdom on March 23, social activity from hair stylists began to drop steadily, reflecting the guidance to close salons. In contrast, activity from hair stylists in South Korea barely wavered.

UK: Hair Photos on Social Media (Weekly Average)

Prior to lockdown, stylists in the UK posted an average of 5 hair photos weekly on social media. After lockdown, stylists continued to post from their archives, but at a much lower rate of 3 photos per week.

Accordingly, conversation from stylists has shifted from this time last year: instead of seasonal topics like Bank Holiday hair and trends like holographic hair from April 2019, stylists are now conversing about support from the community, education, and cautioning clients against DIY.

South Korea: Hair Photos on Social Media (Weekly Average)

With no mandated closures of hair salons in South Korea, the posting behavior of stylists after the spread of COVID-19 did not differ from behavior before the first cases were reported, remaining at a weekly average of 6 hair photos per week.

Unsurprisingly, the apparent lack of disruption among salons is also reflected in conversation-as-normal, with just as much buzz about the latest perm techniques and color trends as this time last year, and very little mention of COVID-19 save for some encouragement and safety guidelines.

Approximate translation: "Corona Virus. It is a time of confusion due to the aftermath. As our safety should not be taken care of alone, we will guide you as a precaution. 1. If you recently visited China and abroad, or if you live in an area of origin, we recommend that you refrain from making a reservation for awhile. 2. If you currently have respiratory symptoms such as cough and fever and sore throat, please make a reservation after the symptoms have improved, even if you have not been confirmed. 3. Make sure to wear the mask from home. 4. Please visit only if you are the person undergoing the service. (Please refrain from accompanying friends, boyfriends and parents for the time being.) In addition, we maintain cleanliness, so please visit us with confidence ◡̈ ♡"

Resilient Demand

Although stylist activity has slowed in the UK, consumers do not appear to be leaving the category altogether. While many have turned to home hair color and cuts, they also express a preference for professional service and see their home interventions as a stop-gap measure.

While only time will tell the extent of built-up demand and how long it will take to regain full capacity, stylists continue to plan and train for the new looks and services their customers will request when they are reunited.

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