Motivational Factors Influencing The Beauty Salons in the UK


Research on understanding human motivation, consumer behavior, decision making process and purchase intentions have been conducted extensively. However, understanding motivation factors that impact customers, particularly in case of Beauty & Health care salons is an area which has hardly been explored. The current research aims at finding factors that motivate the respective customers of Sophie Health care salon and Sanctuary salon in this regard. With an effective blend of secondary research and primary data collection, it has been identified that salon customers are motivated by the level of personal services, interior design and atmosphere, cleanliness, quality of cosmetics used, variety of services offered, loyalty discounts and most importantly kind of price charged by the salons. Research also finds that Word of mouth (WOM) and recommendations from friends & family play the most dominant role in motivating consumers to select a salon and give their long term patronage.

The study starts with introducing the topic, background, aim, objectives and research questions, based on which the research is carried out. Relevant theories have been studied and gaps existing in those theories have been critically discussed. Use of appropriate methodology has helped to conduct the research ,resolve research problems and satisfy the research objectives. Finally, the objectives have been linked to the conclusion to ensure whether the study has been successful or not. Recommendations have been provided so that salon owners can implement strategic steps to motivate customers, retain existing ones and attract potential ones.

1.0 Introduction:

Motivation in an intrinsic human state that drives consumers to identify and purchase goods & services to satisfy their conscious and unconscious needs (Henning, 2009). Duteurtre and Benderson (2008)opine that motivation is the stimulation of any want ore motions that function upon a customer’s will and drive it to action. Stockstrom (2009) emphasizes that consumer motivation is a process oriented approach and begins with an identifying latent need, drive, desire, goal and behavior. Hence, motivation shapes consumer behavior in terms of choosing, selecting or refusing to buy a product or a service. Oyserman (2009) puts forward that motivation is a significant construct for understanding customer behaviour and purchase decision making process.

The current research deals with identifying the factors that motivate consumers to select beauty salons in U.K.  Beauty salons are service based industry and motivating customers to make repeated visits is essential for their success. Tyagi and Kumar (2008) opine that people visit beauty salons not just for beauty treatments but also for massage therapies, cosmetic applications, facials, tanning, waxing, hair care, manicures and a range of services that beauty and give mental relaxation.The quality of services offered by salons, price charged, professionalism, atmosphere and satisfaction they provide, measure the degree of customer motivation (Karr and Blohowiak, 2011).

1.1 Background of the study:

Understanding the factors that motivate consumers to select a beauty salon needs in-depth study of customer behaviour and perceptions that keep on evolving with time.Visiting salons for beauty treatments may be a necessity for consumers while for some it may be a luxury.Principal ways of understanding motivating factors behind consumer’s selection of a beauty salon can be done in two major ways, direction and intensity (Johnston,2007) .These factors are direction (what customers need from a salon) and intensity (how much customers need from a salon). A proper identification of these factors can help to understand the pattern of customer behaviour.

Barone et al. (2008) have identified that the frequency of visits and the extent of time spent by clients in beauty salons has been increasing due to innovate services offered to redefine beauty.Lucas and Simmons (2008) put forward that beauty salons are ‘pre-event’ destination that individuals visit before attending important occasions such as business meetings, conferences, dates, wedding ceremony, parties and other events. Some studies say that expert salon professionals who are able to tailor treatments according to customers’ need, irrespective of monetary charges are able to motivate customers. Factors such as convenient location, friendly staff, value for money, excellent services and comprehensive product range are consumer motivators.  Oyserman (2009) feels that keeping all factors aside, customer satisfaction is the key to customer motivation and retention in case of Health & Beauty salons. Grigoroudis and Siskos (2009) have discovered that ‘word of mouth’ referrals and recommendations from friends & family are real motivators that instigate a customer’s decision regarding choice of salons.

This study conducts a comparative study of analyzing the customer motivations for the choice of two beauty salons, mentioned below:

Sanctuary Beauty Salon
Sanctuary Beauty Salon is a friendly beauty salon in U.K. with branches in several parts such as Sherborne, Denny, and Prenton etc. They offer a complete range of professional skin, body and nail therapies in a calming, soothing ambience. Welcoming both male and female clients, the salon consists of private treatment rooms, reception and retail area.  The salon’s therapists are selected for their expertise, confidence and knowledge in their field and have the capability to exceed customer expectations (Zeithaml and Bitner, 2008).

Sophie Hunter Health salon:

Customers get a unique experience when they visit the Sophie Hunter Health salon. They welcome the customer with an aromatherapy scented world of peace and tranquility and have mostly regular customers. Beauty experts in the salon provide highly effective beauty treatments that suit all types of customers and belonging to any age group. Sophie Hunter Beauty salon provides massage services, facials, tinting, waxing and other body treatments which are of the finest quality (Gupta et al. 2009).

1.2 Research aim:

Aim of the research is to carryout a comparative study of the motivational factors influencing the selection of the beauty salons in the U.K.

Research objectives:

  • To analyze the factors that motivates consumers for choosing and visiting beauty salons in the U.K
  • To understand consumer behaviour of beauty salon customers’ and how it is influenced by motivation
  • To identify the strategies formulated and implemented by salon owners in attracting potential customers and retaining existing ones

Research Questions:

  • What are the motivating factors for consumers behind selection of beauty salons in U.K?
  • Does motivation increase the frequency of visits and length of time spent in a beauty salon of consumer’s choice?
  • What is the customer behavior for salon customers and how is their decision making process impacted?
  • What are the marketing strategies undertaken by the two salons in attracting and retaining consumers?

1.3 Rationale of the study:

Salon and Spa business are growing in an inexplicable way, maintaining their pace with the fierce competitive market and changing consumer preferences. However, Gitomer (2009) argues that many salon owners are struggling for agility in the business and gaining customers’ patronage by providing innovate beauty services at competitive prices (Chahal, 2007). Under such circumstances, formulating strategies that motivate customers to retain their loyalty becomes a challenging issue. Many salons do not have effectively trained beauty professionals or therapists and fail to identify consumer needs. Any treatment that does not align with the customer’s need for beauty & health or negligence by salon staff  may cost heavily on the salons. It may lead to customer complaints and negative publicity through negative word of mouth.

Lack of experienced staff, absence of friendly atmosphere, unsuitable cosmetic applications, uncompetitive price, poor therapy treatments and similar reasons may result in customer dissatisfaction. This de-motivates customers to make repeated visits and instigates their switching behavior.  Losing customers for lack of motivation results not only in revenue loss, but loss of reputation and market share as well. Beauty salons are generally small or medium scale enterprises, and their survival depends purely on customer satisfaction. Findings of the current study, in context of the mentioned aims and objectives will help beauty salons in U.K. to understand customer motivating factors in a practical manner. Research results can be applied to solve such complex problems and create relevant awareness, necessary for beauty salons to earn competitive advantage.

1.4 Problem statement:

Beauty salons basically operate on a small scale basis and hardly have the managerial or marketing expertise to understand customer behavior in a strategic manner. This is because many salons do have an effective customer relationship management (CRM) team to cultivate a long term bond with consumers. Many beauty salons also, do not follow a practice of calling back existing customers to inquire about his/her satisfaction level, feedback and future needs.

Hence, salon customers have a tendency to switch over to competitor salons for want of better services. Competitor salons get the opportunity to lure customers by satisfying their needs. These problems prove to be fatal for the health of the salon organization.

1.5 Structure of the dissertation:

The present dissertation has been arranged into five chapters, wherein each chapter has a suitable role to play in achieving the research goals.

The first chapter is the introductory section, which provides a brief overview of the research topic, background, aim, objectives and questions. Rationale of the study justifies the reason for selecting the topic, while problem statement identifies the core areas of research.

Second chapter reviews the existing literature by critically discussing the motivational theories, consumer behavior models, service quality model and consumer decision making process.

Third chapter explains the methodology used to collect relevant data for resolving the research issues. It provides an insight on the methodological underpinning, the research philosophy, design, approach, methods, tools & techniques used to conduct the research.

Fourth chapter presents the findings collected through primary research using statistical tools, graphs and charts. Discussions of research results are provided in context of literature review, aim and objectives of the study mentioned earlier.

Fifth and the last chapter summarise the entire study in the form of conclusions. Objectives established in the first chapter are linked with the conclusions to make sure the objectives are satisfied. Suitable recommendations, research limitations and scope for future research have been provided.

Literature Review

2.0 Introduction to Literature review:

Review of the literature helps to study the existing theories, models and concepts relevant to the given topic. Going through secondary sources of data such as books, articles, journals, research papers and websites, the researcher gains theoretical knowledge about the study. Areas of studies not researched earlier are identified and these areas are critically discussed. The author discusses these research gaps and aims at conducting further research to fill the gaps. Hence, literature review connects the theory in practice with the theory in use (Oliver, 2006).

2.1 Background of literature review:

Motivation theories have been influential in understanding several models of consumer behavior, but not much has been researched on consumer decision making process in services sector. Gitomer (2009) argues that motivation models and its recent developments have not found many applications in customer research. Chahal (2007) emphasizes that identifying consumer needs, wants, desires and preferences are core areas of marketing concept. Determinants of consumer motivators are difficult to understand as consumer behavior is a complex phenomenon, which keeps on changing with time.

 The current research attempts to integrate relevant motivational theories and link it with consumer behavior, particularly for the service industry. These theoretical studies help to understand the motivational factors that influence consumers to select beauty salons in the U.K.

2.2 Consumer behaviour:

Consumer behavior can be said to be the decision-making process and physical activity involved in acquiring, assessing, using and disposing of products and services (Hoyer and MacInnis, 2008).  This clearly explains that it is not just the purchasing of good & services that is considered in consumer behavior. Lucas and Simmons (2008) opine that it explains the behavior of consumers who take decisions to spend their accessible resources such as money, time and efforts for consuming goods and services.

 The buying process starts much before the goods & services have been acquired  or purchased for a price (Parasuramanet al. 2006). The buying process starts in the minds of the customer, which motivates for identifying alternatives available between products that can be acquired with their comparative advantages and disadvantages. This leads to internal and external study of the available resources. The consumers’ awareness or past experience with a product or service helps in the process of decision-making for purchase and use the goods.  The performance of the purchased product or service determines the post-purchase behavior of the consumer. Good performance of the product stimulates the consumer to make repeat purchase, spread positive word of mouth and recommend the product & service to others (Tyagi and Kumar, 2008). In case the product fails to meet customer expectations, the consumer may complain, disregard the product or stop buying in the future. Henning (2009) opines that consumer behavior gives a clue to the marketers whether the concerned product or service would be successful or not. On the contrary, Johnston (2007)discusses about complex buying behaviourwhen a customer is engaged in the purchase of a product or service where significant variation among brands can be observed.

2.3 Complex consumer buying behaviour:

Johnston (2007) has identified three steps in complex purchasing behavior, starting with consumer developing belief about the product or service. The second step involves developing attitude & perceptions about the same, and the last step involves making a considerate choice. Karr and Blohowiak (2011) opine that complex consumer buying behavior is revealed in case of buying expensive, risky, and occasional and luxury goods & services.

2.3.1 Dissonance Reducing Buying Behaviour:

Some consumers exhibit high involvement in buying but observe little dissimilarity in brands. Oyserman (2009) opines that high involvement is based on the fact that purchase is luxurious, expensive, intermittent and risky. The consumer may shop around to identify the availability of alternatives, and on finding little differences may purchase the product & service based on price or convenience. Performance of the product or service may reveal certain undesirable attributes and the consumer may hear about favorable brands from others (Grigoroudis and Siskos, 2009).This result in dissonance or disagreement in the consumer’s mind, where he may experience a gap between real performance and expected performance of the product or service.

2.3.2 Variety seeking consumer behaviour:

Hseih and Chang (2009) have identified that in few cases consumers show low behaviour involvement if there are multiple brands available showing multiple product & service differences. In such cases, consumers exhibit high level of brand switching behavior. As applied to beauty and health care products, consumers spend on different brands just to test the variety in the market.

2.3.3 Habitual buying behaviour:

Consumers show low behaviour involvement in case of low cost and frequently purchased products & services. Karr and Blohowiak (2011) opine that in case of habitual buying, the basis of consumer decision making is in brand familiarity rather than brand conviction. Consumers make a buying decision mainly based on price, convenience and point of sale offers. Oliver (2006) remarks that consumers in such cases do not assess the post purchase performance in such products & services.

2.4 Buying behaviour driven by complex social behaviour:

Schwer and Daneshvary (2007) put forward that consumer buying behavior is impacted by their complex social behavior, which is mostly determined by ‘hardwired reflexes’. Consumers buy goods & services because their mirror neurons motivate them to imitate others. In spite of going through the steps mentioned in simple or complex buying behavior, consumers tend to spend on products & services that may not be beneficial for them. Barone et al. (2008) have observed that individuals blindly buy product & services recommended by others and keep away from things that others bad mouth. This clearly proves that consumers buy goods based on the behavior of others who have purchased the same stuff.

2.4.1 Consumer decision making process in service industry:

Customer decision making process is a complex process and includes a set of activities. The process initially starts with need arousal and followed by search for information, evaluation of alternatives, purchase and consumption of a product or service, and finally post purchase evaluation. Scholars argue that the decision making process of a consumer while choosing tangible products are different from choosing a service which is intangible (Bebko, 2007). Applying the consumer decision stages for services, particularly in case of beauty salons can be explained as follows:

Step 1: Need arousal/ need recognition

Need recognition, or awareness, is the trigger of the consumer decision-making process. Before a consumer embarks on a buying process, a functional or an emotional need is identified. Functional needs are needs based on a product’s use in performing a particular function. Emotional or hedonic needs are based on a consumer’s desires for products or services for cravings, pleasure or other emotional interests (Mick and Fournier, 2007).

Step 2: Search for information

The second step of the process is sometimes considered to be one broad step, but in a five-step process, it’s broken into information search and evaluation. Information search is a basic research performed by a consumer to determine what providers and products offer a solution for his needs (Jackson et al. 2010) Information sources include both internal and external processes. Internal research is recall of past experiences. This is common in impulse buys where the process develops very rapidly. External research is use of other resources such as the Internet, as well as consultation with other consumers.

Step 3:  Evaluation of alternatives

The evaluation step involves formation of a consideration set and evaluation of options based on certain criteria. A consideration set is a handful of providers or brands that may meet your needs. Criteria are elements such as quality, convenience, price, taste and durability. Consumers evaluate options based on criteria important to them when trying to find the best value.

Step4: Actual Purchase
Once the best value is identified by a particular consumer, the next step is to make a purchase. This is when the customer presents his money in exchange for the product or service. At this point, the customer has determined that a particular solution is the best value for his money.

Step5: Post Purchase Evaluation
The final step in the consumer decision-making process is the post-purchase evaluation. This is where the customer evaluates his purchase based on previous expectations. If the implementation or experience after the purchase exceeds expectations, the consumers feel like getting an excellent value and are likely to make a repeat purchase. If it fails to meet expectations, the consumer will not likely repurchase and may spread negative messages about the product.

2.5 Stimulus Response Model of Consumer Decision Making

The stimulus response model provides the starting point of understanding consumer decision making process. Also known as ‘Input-Processing-Output model’, it explains consumer decision process as a chain of activities and steps for decision making that lead to purchase function. Kannan and Chi (2007) opine that the mechanism of stimulus response model is same as any activity related to processing which includes three factors namely inputs, processing and outputs.  Input factors are in the form of price, product, place, promotion which are fed into the customer information processing box to provide a set of outputs.

Stockstrom (2009) explains that Input-Processing-Output is a problem solving approach where the consumer enters a market to solve the consumption problems. Input is taken as stimuli arousing factors provided by the firm’s marketing mix and environmental factors (social, economic, technological). Marketing efforts such as product or service, price strategies, advertising strategies, distribution network are formulated to inform, influence and attract customers.Henning (2009) emphasizes that non commercial source of customer information (served by social factors such as reference groups, family members etc) cannot be controlled by the service provider.The decision making process can be explained with the help of following diagram:

Figure 1: Input-Output factors in Stimulus Response Model of Consumer decision making

(Source: Hoyer, W. D. and MacInnis, D. J., 2008, p.45)

Customers receive the Input factors;input information is processed through a psychological procedure of processing information,evaluating alternative information inputs, comparing each input’s features with anticipated consumer benefits and lastly decision taking. Parasuraman et al. (2006) remark that buying decision are mental rules that provide solutions to complex consumption problems. Adding to this, Henning (2009) feels that consumers’ mind may be called a ‘black box’because it has the capability to capture, analyze, retrieve and apply mental rules to reach a purchase decision.

Oyserman (2009) argues that the Input-Output factor model does not take into account three extended marketing factors used in services’ sector,namely, people, process and physical evidence. People include the employees working for the organisation and are essential ingredients in service provision. The above model excludes the ‘people’ factor as an important marketing mix, although customers make decisions about the service delivery based on people representing the organization. Thornhill and Grammer (2008) criticizes  that the input-output model excludes ‘Process’ which refers to the system of service delivery. In a salon, the processes used to fix appointments with customers, wait time, procedure for complaints handling etc are important determinants of information processing for consumers. Physical evidence denotes the physical environment of the organization, for example, cleanliness, accommodation facilities, restrooms, toilets etc. The above model does mention about physical evidence which is a crucial marketing factor for service industry, like a salon.

2.6 Critical analysis of consumer purchase decision making process in case of beauty salon:

Zeithaml (2008) believes that the first step ‘Need Arousal’ in case of health and beauty is different from other products & services.  ‘Need’ implies a necessity to satisfy basic human requirements such as hunger, food, shelter, thirst etc. But the need for having a facial, massage or a stylish hair cut can be classified as luxury and not a necessity.  Few scholars criticize this and stress that a service may be a necessity for a consumer while a need for another. 

2.7 Sevice Quality and Consumer behavior:

Customer satisfaction is one of the important products of marketing activity According to Carman (2006, p.34), “satisfaction is the customers’ fulfillment response.  It is a conclusion that a product or service or its attributes provide a gratifying level of consumption-related fulfillment”. Gupta et al. (2009) opine that high service quality can result in high customer contentment and thereby increase in customer loyalty.  Customer satisfaction is the outcome of service quality which can further stimulate business’s the profit and thus a competitive stance. Duteurtre and Benderson (2008) suggest that enhanced customer loyalty is direct outcome of customer satisfaction. Hence, in the current competitive business environment, many organizations are focusing on improved service quality. “Service quality” is considered to be a more important to shape positive consumer behavior than “product quality” because services, unlike tangible products cannot be replaced (Kouthouris and Alexandris, 2008)

Service quality is extensively regarded as an important driver of business marketing, customer retention and financial performance, especially in the beauty salons. Bebko (2007) claims that measuring service quality is a “disconfirmation,” issue, that is, analyzing the difference between consumer perceptions and expectations.  The descriptions provided for each of the SERVQUAL dimensions are as follows:

1.   Reliability:  A service oriented firm’s ability to execute the promised service accurately and dependably.

2.   Responsiveness:  the measure of a firm’s eagerness to facilitate consumers and deliver prompt service in a timely manner.

3.  Assurance:  this quality measure the employees’ knowledge, awareness, courtesy and their capability to instigate consumer trust.

4.  Empathy:  Firms specialized in customer services must be caring, concerned about providing individualized attention to each consumer (Mick and Fournier, 2007).

5. Tangibles: this features focus on interior designs, appearance of physical facilities, equipment,personnel and written materials.

Applications of SERVQUAL model are not free from limitations, but its framework has guided abundant researches in the service sector. The model is successfully applicable to understand the performance of banks, hotels, telecommunications, repair and maintenance services, healthcare organizations, educational institutions and retail stores. In the current study, the SERVQUAL model can be said to be appropriate as an assessment tool to measure the service quality perceptions of salon consumers.  

Figure 2: SERVQUAL model explaining the service quality and consumer behavior

(Source: Carman, J. 2006, p 55)

2.8 Psychological perspectives of Consumer behavior: Theory of conspicuous consumption

Gitomer (2009) opines that Consumer decision making behavior in case of beauty salons does not only depend on economic factors but other complex motivations resulting from emotional, cultural and social factors. Thornhill and Grammer (2008) stresses on the theory of conspicuous consumption and remarks that socio-psychological factors impact consumer decision making process. In case of services, like beauty salons, customers believe that price enhances utility (Hseih and Chang, 2009) .The theory suggests that consumers yearn for status, and status can be enhanced by displaying higher affordability. Keeping this in mind, utility can be identified as the relationship between ‘consumption and status’ rather than ‘consumption and price’.

Motivation for buying conspicuous (eye-catching) goods and services can be differentiated into two comparisons namely:

  • Invidious comparison
  • Pecuniary emulation

Karr and Blohowiak (2011) opines that invidious (undesirable) comparison is found in situations where an individual belonging to a higher class/ higher standard of living consumes conspicuously as a matter of distinction from a member of lower class/lower standard of living. Pecuniary (economic) emulation refers to consumer behavior where a lower class member spends conspicuously to be recognized as a higher class member. As applied to beauty salons people belonging to lower middle class (clerical, junior managerial, professional etc) tend to practice ‘pecuniary emulation’ by visiting a lower range of luxury beauty salons rather than the top range very expensive luxury salons (Lucas and Simmons, 2008). This behavior of lower middle class customers has been just to achieve the ‘invidious comparison’ that members of upper middle or upper class follow. Oyserman (2009) opines that the motivation of ‘conspicuous consumers’ is not maximising utility derived from the service but to spend for getting a superior treatment.

A study of consumer behavior in case of service industry involves areas such as consumer perception, thinking, learning and remembering, attitudes, experience, beliefs, emotions and motivation. Hoyer and MacInnis (2008) have identified three major aspects of psychology of consumer behavior namely:

  • Cognitive
  • Behavioral
  • Trait

Cognitive perspective:

 Cognitive perspective involves a mental processes and a number of activities ranging from ‘information gathering and learning’ to problem solving. Zeithaml (2008) opines that cognition is a thought process that determines the knowledge, beliefs, attention and attitudes that customers have while making buying decisions. In this context, environmental factors consist of the social and physical characteristics of the consumer world. Consumers often interact and exchange information that shape their perspective and buying behavior. Schwer and Daneshvary (2007) opine that consumers can be considered as ‘thinking problem solver’ and look for goods and services that satisfy their needs. In case of beauty salons, cognitive consumer perspectives can be directed to choosing those salons which enhance their physical beauty and health. Henning (2009) explains that consumers also choose beauty salons depending on the materials they use, cosmetics and their ingredients, and kind of services they offer. Lucas and Simmons (2008) add that salon customers also look for therapies that reduce stress & tension, physical relaxation and a friendly atmosphere that satisfy them emotionally.

Behavioural perspective:

Behavioural perspectives refer to consumer behaviour that is influenced by social pressures / influences. Lucas and Simmons (2008) opine that behavioural perspective of a consumer interprets the conversion of buying influence into purchase responses. Conner et al. (2008) emphasise on attitude-behaviour relationship and remarks that a consumer’s individual mental process determines the actual potential response while buying a product or service. The attitude-behaviour relationship has been viewed in two different directions – (1) attitude is affected by behaviour and (2) behaviour is affected by attitude, which depends mostly on the type of product or service. Hence the attitude – behaviour relationship can be explained to be a ‘two way’ concept (Attitude Behaviour).

In case of salons, the consumers may be loyal (attitude) towards brand and may repeatedly visit the same salon (behaviour). However, new customers visiting a salon for the first time and having bad experience (behaviour) may have a negative perception (attitude) about the same.

Trait Perspective:

Trait theories categorise consumers into personality types, features or characteristics. Mick and Fournier (2007) define trait as unique, distinguishable or enduring way, which differentiates one customer from another. In response to external stimuli, these individual differences tend to be comparatively enduring and evolve from factors such as heredity, environmental influence, personal experience, sociability and amount of internal control.

2.9 Maslow’s motivation theory

Maslow has provided a pyramid of consumer needs that motivates their decision to purchase/reject a product or a service. These needs are categorised as Physiological, security, affiliation, esteem and self-actualisation. The theory is termed as hierarchy of needs that identifies human needs and behaviour. The first need, physiological need refers to basic human needs that are essential for existence and survival. The next need, security includes the need of being having shelter, being dressed, safety etc.Need of Affiliation imply that human beings, being a part of society need to have constructive relationship with family members, peer groups and others. Esteem needs implies that human beings have a self-perception of being recognised, valued and respected. Self-actualisation are those needs that people desire after all their needs are satisfied and they reach the highest level of happiness.

Stockstrom (2009) criticises that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory cannot be fully applied to service industries such as beauty and health care. Some scholars agree that beauty salons can satisfy an individual’s physiological need only if getting a facial, make-up, waxing, tanning treatments, therapies etc are identified as basic needs for consumers. Salons which position themselves as providing services that satisfy the most basic needs of consumers are able to win customers’ patronage and loyalty Gupta et al. (2009). Safety needs arise after physiological needs are met and are more complex to be satisfied. Jackson et al. (2010) opine that in case of services, consumers look for salons, which sell products safe for the skin and body, have well qualified beauty therapists etc. For satisfying security needs, a consumer may visit a salon located in premises having adequate security and not in isolated areas.

To fulfil the need for affiliation a consumer may visit a beauty salon which is friendly, provides better customer services, build strong customer rapport and creates better customer satisfaction (Carman, 2006). Salons, which respect customers, listen and address their complaints and make them feel valued have a better chance of winning customers. Self Esteem may motivate a consumer to visit a salon which is a reputed and recognised as a better brand than others. Tyagi and Kumar (2008) opine that to satisfy self-esteem needs a consumer may prefer to visit an expensive& reputed salon even if it fails to satisfy the basic physiological needs or affiliation needs. Self-actualisation is the summit of all needs, which is never fully satisfied. To satisfy self-actualisation need a customer may visit salons, which provide specialised services, not provided by competitors.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory has been criticised because it based on satisfying human needs only.It fails to explain the cause & effect relationship between need and behaviour. Chahal (2007) argues that Maslow’s theory is more philosophical than scientific and cannot be fully explain modern consumer behavior because their needs are complex to understand.  Henning (2009)stresses that identifying consumer motivators in the real world is not possible because consumers themselves are not explicitly aware of what their motives are.

2.10 McClelland’s Theory of Achievement motivation

McClelland’s theory is a further extension of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs theory. McClelland proposed human needs that were either socially acquired or learned and put forward motivators like achievement, affiliation and power. This theory does not focus on simplified human/consumers, but dominant motivators regardless of gender, culture or age.

To meet Achievement motivation, consumers develop a strong need to satisfy challenging goals and take calculated risks.  For satisfying affiliate motivation, customers look for service providers who provide a sense of self-belonging, respect, non-prejudiced services etc. Power motivation can be achieved by deriving utmost satisfaction by the exercise of influence.

Scholars researching on motivational theories are not fully convinced with McClelland’s theory as applied to studying consumer behavior. Oyserman (2009) believes that achievement, affiliation and power might not be consumer motivators for all segments of customers.

2.11 Achievement Motivation Effects on Consumer Behaviour:

Barone et al. (2008) believe that motivational theories can be used to explain consumer behavior, but in reality there is inadequate literature that can relate motivation variables to consumer behavior. Gitomer (2009) stresses that motivational studies are linked with human needs, wants and fears and the activities undertaken by the individual to achieve or avoid these. Motivational theorists & writers such as Maslow, Herzberg and McClelland  are basically divided into two different schools of thought, which make it complicated for authors researching on consumer motivation. The first theory is known as “Drive X Habit Theory”, according to which drive is a product of human need, want or fear which energizes/motivates the consumer to satisfy the same. As per this concept of motivation, drive is combined with acquired/learned habits to activate behavior when linked with an applicable stimulus situation. The Drive X Habit Theory says that consumer drive combines with habit strength, which is linked with stimulus situations. Thornhill and Grammer (2008) believe that drive provides consumers’ the activation in a stimulus situation.

Hoyer and MacInnis (2008) criticize Drive X Habit Theory due to its short of concern with the outcome of a consumer act. The theory just focuses on consumers’ intrinsic drive that motivates him to act in response to a stimulus and gradually develops into a habit. The second school of thought puts forward the “Expectancy X Value” which does not include this deficiency. Duteurtre and Benderson (2008) support the theory as explained “strength of the propensity to act in a definite manner depends upon the potency of expectancy that the act will be followed by a given outcome and the value of that outcome to the individual. Expectancy X Value stresses on the outcome of consumer act and believes that such outcome helps to achieve a particular goal in a given situation. Hence this theory focuses on achievement motivation.

2.12 Consumer switching behaviour in beauty salons:

Sustaining a long term relationship with a consumer greatly determines the value that the customer provides to the company (beauty salon in this case). However, a consumer’s switching behavior poses serious threat to the achievement of long term customer relationship and customer retention (Stockstrom, 2009). Consumer switching behavior is an area of study in relationship marketing, which evaluates the differences between switchers and stayers. Previous literatures mainly focus on linkage between consumer switching behavior and customer satisfaction. However, in service industries like beauty salons, consumer switching behavior is impacted by six switching incidents such as pricing, inconvenience, service encounter failures, core service failures, attraction by competitors and ethical issues (Schwer and Daneshvary, 2007).

The Switching incidents can be described as follows —

Pricing – Gitomer (2009) opines that consumer switching behavior depends on high prices, price increase, unfair pricing and deceptive pricing practices. The same customer switching behavior can be applied in case of beauty salons also. Bebko (2007) explains that customers of the services sector are mostly price conscious and pricing has the maximum impact on their intention to switch. However, Hoyer and MacInnis (2008) argue that a customer may stick to the same salon inspite of price hike, if the services offered satisfy consumers demands.

Inconvenience–Customers tend to switch over to another service provider if the current service provider does not have convenient store location, opening hours, long waiting time to get an appointment or service. Karr and Blohowiak (2011) do not agree with this switching incident and remarks that a factor which is inconvenient for a customer, may be convenient for another.

Core service failures – consumers may leave the current brand due to billing errors, service disasters, poor communication and lack of understanding. Hseih and Chang (2009) argue that organizations themselves create false expectations in the minds of customers which  contribute to service failures. In such cases, even if the core services provided by the company is adequate, consumers may still not be satisfied and show switching behavior.

Service encounter failures – this category can be classified into rude, uncaring, unfriendly, unresponsive or incompetent staff. Salons, which are not able to tailor services as per customer requirements, may experience customer switching behavior. Bebko (2007) believes that service quality through customer encounters can be evaluated when a customer compares the actual services received with the expectations prior to the service delivery. Stockstrom (2009) adds that the a customers’ expectations and emotions go hand in hand while judging the level of consumption experience.

Competitors’ attractiveness– in the fierce competition, competitor service providers may allure customers with better discounts & offers, innovated services, promotional offers, technologically advanced method of service delivery etc. Consumers being price informative and quality conscious may switch over to competitors, temporarily or permanently( Mick and Fournier, 2007).

Ethical issues– Oyserman (2009) puts forward that the firm’s intimidating or dishonest behavior, conflicts of interest or unhealthy practices, compliance and security issues may impel a customer switch to a different brand.

2.13 Word of mouth and its impact on the service sector:

Oliver (2006) believes that word of mouth communication is the most vital medium for influencing consumer behavior. Customers, in the service sector rely on ‘word of mouth’ more as compared to other marketing strategies such as advertisements, promotions etc. Supporting this Bebko (2007) opines that positive word of mouth is six times more effective than advertising for changing unfavorable consumer tendencies into positive attitudes. On the contrary, Kannan and Chi (2007) stress, that word of mouth may have either a positive or a negative impact on consumer behavior. Parasuramanet (2006) put forward that customers collect information about a product or service to lessen the risk associated with the buying decision. In this regard, word of mouth referrals represents the most effectual source of information for reducing perceived risk in case of service purchase.

2.13.1 Word of mouth as a customer motivating factor in Beauty salon:

Consumers visit beauty salons not only for beauty treatments, stress therapies and relaxation, but also to get spiritual satisfaction(Zeithaml and Bitner, 2008). Customers generally seek the recommendations from friends & family, cost of treatments, and other features before visiting a salon. In such cases, word of mouth referrals helps a consumer to make a pre purchase evaluation, which motivates them to select a beauty salon.  Consumers who have visited a particular salon share their experience about the treatments, atmosphere, cosmetic applications etc. in the form of word of mouth based on which others form their perceptions. Johnston (2007) opines that word of mouth is the most effective motivator that determines the customers’ choice of a beauty salon.

2.14 Summary:

The purpose of this chapter was to discuss various elements of consumer behavior with the help of motivational theories such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs theory, McClelland needs theory etc.Consumer behavior models such as dissonance reducing buying behaviour, stimulus response model, SERVQUAL Model, Psychological perspectives model and consumer switching behavior have been discussed to understand consumer perspectives regarding choice of services.                                                      

Research Methodology

3.0 Overview to Methodology

Methodology in a research provides a specific design to conduct the study and resolve the research problems. Morgan (2007) opines that appropriate choice of philosophy, approach, sampling and data collection methods is crucial for maintaining the research quality.

3.1 Research Proposition:

The current research aims to find out the motivational factors that influence the selection of beauty salons in U.K.  Research aim, objectives and questions identified in chapter 1, need to be solved systematically using a combination of primary and secondary data. Crouch and Pearce (2012) opine that any sample size below 55, can raise reliability issues in case of quantitative research. Hence a sample frame of 86 customers has been chosen to participate in the primary research, using survey questionnaire for quantitative data collection. Probability sampling has been used and respondents have been selected using the simple random method.

Using deductive approach, existing theories on motivation, consumer behaviour and other relevant models & concepts have been studied and tested. Saunders et al. (2009) opine that positivism philosophy helps to gain factual knowledge based on real life events and experience. Being a positivist, the researcher collects real data, and explains the cause and effect relationship between variables included in quantitative data. Qualitative data have also been collected with the help of interviews.

3.2 Research philosophy

Bernard (2011) explains that positivism philosophy supports studies based on social & organizational realities in a scientific manner that mirrors research processes used in natural science (Neuman, 2008).  Freshwater (2007) stresses that realism deals with objects which are known to exist and can be felt by human senses, independent of human perception. Interpretivism is an anti-positivist theory wherein interpretivists believe that social studies and studies of natural sciences are totally different areas. Interpretivism relies more on human opinions, point of view, and believes that knowledge is relative to the knower (Lodico and Spaulding, 2010)

3.2.1 Selection of Positivism Philosophy

As mentioned earlier, positivism has been used as understanding consumer motivation, consumer behaviour, decision making etc are social facts and can be studied using scientific techniques. Interpretivism is not suitable because research decisions and conclusions cannot be based on respondents’ opinion but findings from primary research should be subject to testing. Realism is considered weak because it takes decisions based on human senses inspite of human mind and perceptions. Positivists  believe that knowledge, information & data already exist and the researcher needs to gather and systematize them.

3.3 Research approach:

 Harrison and Reilly (2011) commented that inductive research approach follows observations, data collection, hypothesis testing and finally theory development. Whereas, Bryman (2006) highlighted that deductive research approach resumes from studying the theory, hypothesis testing, observations and finally theory confirmation.  Inductive approach is a theory building approach while deductive approach is a theory testing approach.

3.3.1 Use of deductive approach:

Deductive approach has been considered suitable because actual research starts with a theoretical study in the form of literature review. Primary research is conducted and findings have been observed, presented and explained. Existing theories are tested based on the findings and either confirmed or modified. Inductive approach is unsuitable because the study does not start from observation and new theories are not built.

 3.4 Research Design

Crouch and Pearce (2012) sated that choice of research design is dependent on the research objectives and the extent to which the research objective is known. VanderStoep and Johnson (2009) elaborated that exploratory design is used to obtain background information, to explain theoretical terms, denote the problem, express hypothesis and establish research objectives. Harrison and Reilly (2011) stated that explanatory research focuses on why questions. In explanatory research type, the explanation of the related topic is done. Descriptive research design is used to relate the findings of the research to questions relating to what, who, when, where and why (Dul and Hak, 2007)

3.4.1 Selection of Descriptive Design

Hakim (2007) emphasizes that descriptive design supports quantitative data collection and analyses with the help of statistical tools, graphs, charts and tables. In the current study, quantitative data has been obtained and descriptive design helps to explain events by organizing, tabulating, depicting and describing the data. Descriptive design also helps in the in-depth explanation of qualitative data conducted in this research.s Descriptive design is useful for studies that relate to current facts and events occurring in a society and providing in-depth answers to ‘why, when, when, how,whom and where’ of the questions (Bryman and Bell, 2007)

3.5 Quantitative data: Questionnaire survey method

Current study is a social research and quantitative technique makes it feasible to be explained. Bryman and Bell (2007) opine that data can be presented figuratively and readers can easily grasp the research issues under discussion. Sekaran and Bougie (2010) support quantitative data helps the in the use of numbers and puts across a strong sense of objective based research. A suitable use of deductive approach further supports quantitative studies rather than qualitative. Questionnaire survey used also helps in the saving time and money, and yields substantial data without the involvement of the researcher. Morgan (2007) stresses that quantitative research gives autonomy to the participants in terms of time, effort and ease.

Questionnaire survey is a cost effective approach wherein all respondents answer the same questions which are standardized for both the beauty salons. Similar questions make it easier for the researcher to code them, classify, integrate and present using a uniform statistical technique. Questionnaire prepared help to obtain variable data explaining causes of consumer motivation and how they perceive about the selected salons.

Dul and Hak (2007) opine that qualitative data is relevant in studies which follow inductive approach and interpretivism as the research philosophy. This is because interpretivists answer the research questions based on interpretations provided by the respondents. But in the current research, the researcher being a positivist, collects factual data and expresses it numerically, instead of gathering qualitative data.

3.6 Qualitative Data: Interview method

Qualitative data is mainly data that cannot be quantified and therefore it focuses on quality. This data has an important role in the construction of meanings that the research subjects attach to it (Saunders et al.,2009, Bell, 2007). The use of quantitative data is distinct from qualitative data, meaning that quantitative methods are those which focus on numbers, while qualitative methods (e.g. case studies and interviews) provide more in-depth and rich descriptions.

To address the weaknesses of questionnaires previously mentioned, mixed methods were used for data collection, which allow statistically reliable information obtained from numerical measurement to be backed up by and enriched by information about the research participants’ explanations. The use of the qualitative interviews was through the face-to-face interviews with managers, which also proved important in triangulating and validating data and information collected (Bernard, 2011). Moreover, qualitative data was helpful to understand the behavior, emotions and opinion of respondents in an interactive manner with the researcher’s participation in the interview process.

The importance of the interview is that it helped to gain an insight of what are the most significant factors motivating customers in choosing salons. It allowed the interviewer to analyze the data critically through others experiences and opinions. Interviews were conducted face-to-face, they were recorded and lasted about 30 minutes each. The samples of the transcripts are attached in Appendix 2. The questions prepared were pre checked and examined by the supervisor to ensure research reliability. Reliability ensures that the research results are consistent and it actually finds out what was intended to be studied in the research.

3.7 Data collection and Sampling:

Data has been collected through survey questionnaire distributed to 76 salon customers using probability sampling, simple random method. Out of 76 customers, 62 returned the questionnaire fully completed which were accepted by the researcher. This implies that 81% response has been obtained from the total sample frame. Remaining questionnaires were either partially completed or ignored completely by the respondents.

Simple random probability sampling has been used because it is the simplest and easiest form of sampling. It gives each unit of the population (each consumer in this case) equal chance of participating in the survey. The researcher does not have convenience or easy access to the respondents, hence non-probability sampling is avoided. Neuman (2008) opines that non probability sampling has a chance that the chosen sample may not represent the overall population because random selection is not possible.

3.8 Data analysis method:

Response from 62 questionnaires completely filled up and returned by the respondents have been properly screened and processed using MS Excel.  Response being quantitative in nature has been represented using tables and charts. Response has been expressed in the form of percentage, using table and subsequently using graphs. Primary findings have been explained and discussed in context of research aim, objectives and secondary data previously collected.

3.9 Validity, Reliability and Ethical issues:

VanderStoep and Johnson (2009) stated that validity of a research is based on the instruments used in measuring the findings. Violation of instrument severely impact the function and functioning of testing instrument. In the present study, validity is maintained by integration of questionnaires with the supervisor and colleagues. The validity is maintained by continuously checking whether the research is measuring what it is supposed to measure.

Crouch and Pearce (2012) opined that research reliability relates to whether the research results can be applied to a wider group other than the individuals already responded. The researcher has maintained the reliability to use the same methodologies to determine the same results but with a different set of respondents.

Morgan (2007) noted that the most common way to define ethics as norms for conduct that separates between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. The fact that the respondent’s opinion will be used merely for academic purposes was clearly said to the researcher. Respondents were free to determine the answer and biasness has not being meted out against the respondent. Individuals’ not wanting to respond was not pressurized to answer. Actual name of the respondents was also not used for confidentiality purpose.

3.10 Scope and Limitations:

The length of the questionnaire created problem for collecting relevant answers to some specific problems. The quantitative questionnaire was made too elaborate to answer for the customers. While collecting primary responses, few participants took enough time in responding to the questionnaire. This delayed in timely fulfillment of the study. Few respondents did not send back the questionnaire completely filled up, hence the researcher had to restrict the sample size to 62. Inclusion of more samples would have helped the researcher to perform a deeper analysis of the study.

The research will be helpful for the researcher in the academic curriculum. Future researchers can also be able to base future research to detect the motivational factors that influence selection of beauty salons in U.k.

3.11 Conclusion:

Appropriate methodology enables the researcher to conduct the research in a scientific way.  The chapter discusses regarding research philosophy, design, and the proper data collection and sampling methods used in the research. The justification of choosing positivism, deductive approach, descriptive design, primary and secondary source, probability sampling used have been stated in the above chapter. Data analysis and method of data has been mentioned above.  Reliability, validity and ethical considerations used in the study have also been discussed in the chapter.

Data Interpretation and Findings

4.0 Introduction to chapter 4:

Quantitative Data obtained from survey questionnaire have been screened, processed and graphically explained with the help of tables and graphs. Quantitative data  are easier to be expressed numerically, codified statistically and represented graphically (Bernard, 2011). Data collected from the customers of both the salons have been synchronized and a comparative analysis done. Integrated data have been initially shown in a tabular form and then graphically represented in Part A of the chapter.

4.1 Part A  (Response from customers)

Q1) Please specify your gender

  Table no 1

Sophie salon Customers Sanctuary salon Customers
                                    Gender of the customers
Index   % of Response Index   % of Response
Male   27% Male   19%
Female   73% Female   81%

Figure 3: Gender

Findings and interpretation:

The above data indicates that salon visitors are mostly females, 73% in the case of Sophie Beauty salon while 81% for Sanctuary salon. Male members in both the salons are 27%  and 19% respectively. Findings indicate that females prefer more than men to visit salons as compared to males.

Q2) Please specify your age

  Table no 2

Sophie salon Customers Sanctuary salon Customers
Age of the customers
Index   % of Response Index   % of Response
Below 16 years   6% Below 16 years   14%
Between 16-28 yrs   52% Between16-28 yrs   63%
Between 28 – 40 yrs   26% Between 28 – 40 yrs   16%
Above 40 yrs   16% Above 40 yrs   7%

Figure 4: Age

 Findings and interpretation:

Findings indicate that majority (52% for Sophie salon) and (63% for Sanctuary salon) of the salon visitors are between the age  group of 16-28 years . Many customers who visit salons are adolescents , below the age of 16 yrs, 6% for Sophie salon and 14% for Sanctuary salon. It has also been found that consumers above the age of 40 years often visit salons, 16% for Sophie salon while 7% for Sanctuary salon. This implies that both the salons have a good mix of consumers from different age groups who like to visit them.

Q3) Please specify your gross annual income.

  Table no 3

Sophie salon Customers Sanctuary salon Customers
Gross annual income (GBP=Great Britain Pound)
Index   % of Response Index   % of Response
Under GBP 20,000   9% Under GBP 20,000   27%
GBP 20,000 – 40,000   17% GBP 20,000 – 40,000   31%
GBP 40,000 – 60,000   29% GBP 40,000 – 60,000   26%
GBP 60,000+            16% GBP 60,000+            9%
GBP 100,000+   29% GBP 100,000+   7%
Index Rasna Prle PepsiCo % respobdents % respobdents % respobdents
Total respondnts            

Figure 5: Gross Annual Income

Findings and interpretation

Data collected from both the salons in regards to the annual income, show quite a big difference between Sophie Health center and Sanctuary beauty salon consumers. Maximum consumers visiting Sophie salon belong to Upper class or Upper middle class having an annual income of 100,000 GBP  (29%) or between 40,000 – 60,000 (29%). Only 9% of the Sophie salon customers have a gross annual income below 20,000 GBP while 17% earn between 20,00 – 40,000.

On the other hand, consumers of Sanctuary salon belong to Middle class or lower middle class. Only 7% of its customers have a gross annual income  exceeding 100,000 GBP while income of 9% exceeds 60,000 plus. 27% and 31% of the customers visiting  sanctuary salon have an annual gross income below 20,000 and between 20,000 – 40,000. However, on an average people from all income groups visit the two saloons, although the number of consumers from each income segment varies extensively.

Q4)How often do you go to a beauty salon on average?

  Table no 4

Sophie salon Customers Sanctuary salon Customers
Frequency of visits
Index   % of Response Index   % of Response
More than once a week   17% More than once a week   3%
Once a week   23% Once a week   17%
Once a fortnight   33% Once a fortnight   32%
Once a month   16% Once a month   37%
Once every three months   9% Once every three months   1%
Once every six months   2% Once every six months   7%
Once a year              0% Once a year              3%

Figure 6: Frequency of visits

Findings and interpretation

The frequency of customer visits varies widely for both the salons as interpreted in the above graph.  For Sophie salon, 17% of the consumers visit there more than once a week, 23% visit once a week, 33% visit once a fortnight, 16% once a month, 9% once every three months, 2% once every 6 months etc. Data shows that maximum customers of this salon make visits at least once a week or a fortnight.

For Sanctuary salon, only 3% of the customers visit more than once a week, 17% visit once a week, 32% visit once a fortnight, 37% visit only once a month, 1% visit once in 3 months, 7% visit once in every 6 months while 3% prefer to visit just once a year.

A comparative study of data shows that maximum consumers (33%) of Sophie salon visit there once a fortnight while for Sanctuary maximum consumers (37%) visit just once a month. This proves that the frequency of consumer visits is higher in Sophie Health care as compared to Sanctuary Beauty salon.

Q5)How have you found this salon?

  Table no 5

Sophie salon Customers Sanctuary salon Customers
Finding the salon
Index   % of Response Index   % of Response
Internet search   16% Internet search   21%
Word of mouth recommendation   52% Word of mouth recommendation   29%
Commercial advertisement   11% Commercial advertisement   16%
Walking past   3% Walking past   7%
Situated in my locality   18% Situated in my locality   27%

Figure 7: Finding the salon

Findings and interpretation

Majority (52% customers of Sophie Health care and 29% customers of Sanctuary salon) agree that they came to know about the respective salons from ‘Word of mouth’, recommendations. 16% customers from Sophie salon have found about it from an internet search, 11% of commercial advertisements, 18% have found it situated in their own locality and remaining 3% have discovered it while passing by.

As for Sanctuary salon, 21% have known about it from an internet search, 16% of commercial advertisements, 27% have found it in their own locality while 7% have seen it while passing by.

Word of mouth, recommendations from friends and family play a vital role in the consumer decision making process. Satisfied consumers serve the purpose of positive publicity for the service industry. According to individual experience with a product or a service, a customer makes recommendations to others and also maintains  loyalty towards a brand. This is followed by internet search, as modern consumers are tech savvy and prefer to do information search before selecting a brand. Consumers also look for a convenient location and prefer to visit salons situated nearby. It is also found that internet search have greater impact on consumers as compared to traditional advertisement methods.

Q6)Why have you chosen this beauty salon over others?

  Table no 6

Sophie salon Customers Sanctuary salon Customers
Reason for choosing the salon
Index   % of Response Index   % of Response
Location   3% Location   21%
Level of Personal service   41% Level of Personal service   28%
Availability of certain treatments   14% Availability of certain treatments   23%
Competitive price   11% Competitive price   16%
Cleanliness               17% Cleanliness               8%
Atmosphere/Interior design   10% Atmosphere/Interior design   3%
Loyalty program   4% Loyalty program   1%

Figure 8: Reason for choosing the salon

Findings and interpretation

Level of personal service was found to be much better in the Sophie salon as voted by a majority 41% of their customers. In comparison, only 28% of Sanctuary salon customers voted in favor of this option. For Sophie Health care, 17% supported its cleanliness, 14% for various services available, 11% for a competitive price, 10% of interior design, 4% for loyalty program and remaining 3% for a convenient location.

For Sanctuary salon, apart from 28% for personal services, 23% advocated the availability of various services, 21% for convenient location, 16% for price, 8% for cleanliness, 3% for interior design and 1% for loyalty program.

It has to be noted that only 8% of customers from Sanctuary salon visit because of cleanliness while,  nearly double 17% of customers visit the Sophie salon for the same reason. The same demarcation is found when we compare levels of personal service, interior design/atmosphere, loyalty programs etc.  But it cannot be denied that Sanctuary salon has advantages in its location, availability of few services and to some extent, competitive pric

Q7)What are the services you are using in beauty salons ?

  Table no 7

Sophie salon Customers Sanctuary salon Customers
Services availed
Index   % of Response Index   % of Response
Haircut   33% Haircut   27%
Styling   8% Styling   34%
Facial   19% Facial   7%
Massage   21% Massage   22%
Pedicure/manicure   12% Pedicure/manicure   9%
SPA   7% SPA   1%

Figure 9: Service availed

Findings and interpretation

Majority (33%) of Sophie salon customers visit there for haircut followed by a message (21%), Facials (19%), Pedicure/Manicure (12%) and SPA (71% for %). On the other hand maximum (34%) of Sanctuary salon customers visit there for Styling, followed by 27% or haircut, 22% for massage, 9% for Pedicure/Manicure, 7% for facials while 1% for the SPA.

Findings indicate that both the salons provide an extensive range of services to the customers. But, what is more important is to tailor the services according to the customer’s needs as well as offer attractive service packages.

Q8)Have you ever used a beauty salon for a special occasion?

  Table no 8

Sophie salon Customers Sanctuary salon Customers
Visit on a special occasion
Index   % of Response Index   % of Response
Bachelors/Bachelorette party   26% Bachelors/Bachelorette party   49%
Girls/Men’s night out   39% Girls/Men’s night out   33%
Day of wedding         16% Day of wedding         11%
Others   19% Others   7%

Figure 10: Visit on a special occasion

Findings and interpretation

26% of customers from Sophie Health, have visited there before attending a Bachelors/Bachelorette party, 39%, Girls/Men’s night out, 16% on the day of wedding and remaining 19% on other occasions.

49% of customers from Sanctuary salon have visited prior to attending a Bachelors/Bachelorette party, 33%, Girls/Men’s night out, 11% on the day of wedding and remaining 7% on other occasions.

The above data indicates that customers visit these salons before attending special occasions also, apart from regular availing services.

Q9)Do you possess a discount card from your salon?

  Table no 9

Sophie salon Customers Sanctuary salon Customers
                                   Having discount card
Index   % of Response Index   % of Response
Yes   87% Yes   56%
No   13% No   44%

Figure 11: Having Discount card

Findings and interpretation

87% of the customers from Sophie Health care salon have a discount card which helps them to get a reduction in price. Only 13% deny having a discount card. On the other hand, only 56% customers from Sanctuary salon have a discount card whereas 44% do not possess it.

Findings clearly state that Sophie salon stands in a better position as far as providing regular discounts to customers is concerned.This helps the salon to encourage loyal buying behavior and ensure that they continue to give their custom. Comparatively, Sanctuary salon also provides discount cards but to lesser number of customers.

Q10)Are you also visiting other beauty salons as well?

  Table no 10

Sophie salon Customers Sanctuary salon Customers
Visiting other salons
Index   % of Response Index   % of Response
Yes   7% Yes   26%
No   91% No   58%
May visit other salons in future   2% May visit other salons in future   16%

Figure 12: Visiting other salons

Findings and interpretation

91% of the customers from Sophie Health care denied that they do not visit any other beauty salons while 7% agreed with this question. 2% of the customers said they may visit other beauty salons. Comparatively, 58% of the customers from Sanctuary salon denied that they do not visit other salons, while 26% confirmed that they also visit other salons. 16% of the remaining Sanctuary salon customers also agree that they may visit other salons in the future.

Findings clearly state that a larger number of customers from Sanctuary salon visit other salons also, or have intentions to do so in future, may be because they are not getting full satisfaction from their current salon. However, customers of Sophie salon hardly have any intention to visit a different salon, may be because they get all services available and complete satisfaction from their current salon.

Q11) What are the key potential improvements for your beauty salon which you would recommend?

  Table no 11

Sophie salon Customers Sanctuary salon Customers
Potential improvements needed
Index   % of Response Index   % of Response
Improved personal service   7% Improved personal service   31%
Lower price   43% Lower price   23%
More cleanliness   2% More cleanliness   17%
Improved Atmosphere/Interior Design   11% Improved Atmosphere/Interior Design   11%
More special offers   23% More special offers   6%
Improved loyalty program                   14% Improved loyalty program                   12%

Figure 13: Potential improvements needed

Findings and interpretation

Majority (43%) of the customers from Sophie Health care expressed that the salon must lower its price, 23% stressed on more special offers, 14% wanted an improved loyalty program, 11% focused on interior design, 7% on improved personal service and 2% on cleanliness.

As for Sanctuary salon , maximum (31%) of the customers stress on the level of service  quality, followed by 23% who focus on lower price, 17% on cleanliness, 12% on improved loyalty program and 6% on special offers.

Findings indicate that Sanctuary salon needs major improvements in the level of personal service, cleanliness and price which are extremely important factors for customer satisfaction & retention. Comparatively, the data from Sophie salon shows it needs maximum improvement in price and special offers. But the core services for Sophie Health care do not need improvements. 

Q12) Do you have any intention to switch over to a different salon/brand ?

  Table no 12

Sophie salon Customers Sanctuary salon Customers
Intention to switch
Index   % of Response Index   % of Response
Yes   3% Yes   27%
No   89% No   52%
Can’t say   8% Can’t say   21%

Figure 14: Intention to switch

Findings and Interpretations

Only 3% of customers from Sophie Health care salon have an intention to switch over to a different brand, 89% prefer to continue being loyal while 8% have still not decided.

As compared to this, 27% of customers from sanctuary salon agree having the intention to switch over, while 52% want to remain loyal. The remaining 21% customers from Sanctuary salon are yet not able to decide this.

Data indicates that Sophie salon leads in customer retention as only 3% customers have intention to switch as compared to 27% customers from sanctuary salon.

4.2 Part B  (Response from Managers)

This part consists of qualitative data, obtained from managers of both the salons during face to face interviews. Data collected qualitatively can be explained empirically, that includes elements of human emotions and behavior (Harrison and Reilly , 2011). Same set of questions (structured interview) were asked from managers of both salons individually organized in their respective salons.

Q1. How many customers (%) do you have that prefer quality over price and how many need the right quality/price balance?

Response of Sophie Salon:

The managers in Sophie Salon stated that almost 100% of their consumers prefer better service quality. Price factor is not a major problem as majority of the consumers belong to the upper middle class and upper class of the society. However, the manager also said that customers keep asking for discounts. Sophie provides discounts only on special schemes and bulk purchase of services. Sophie provides 20% discount on the first booking and also provides festive gifts that consists of gift broachers and greeting cards. The researcher evaluated that consumers in Sophie don’t want to negotiate with the quality of the job as they prefer the service. They don’t want to leave the services but want discounts for getting extra benefits.

Response of Sanctuary Salon:

According to the managers of Sanctuary Salon, almost 50% of the consumers are price sensitive. They tend to go for services that are cheaper. The main reason for this is majority of the crowd visiting Sanctuary mainly belong to the middle and upper middle class. Sanctuary manager replied that they reduce the price of their services for making the consumers happy. The discount plans are based on consumer loyalty. They have separate discount plans for loyal customers and other plans for irregular customers. The researcher noticed that as the society level of the consumers is low they prefer to go for lower prices in Sanctuary. Sanctuary also discriminates among its consumer base that may create a feeling of dissatisfaction in the customer base.

Q2. Do you think your customers need a buying influence (help) in purchasing or they are likely to decide whether to buy or not by themselves? If they need help, how do you do this? Do you have any advertising there?

Response of Sophie Salon:

The managers in Sophie replied that most of the consumers are well informed about the services they need. Sophie keeps updated beauty magazines and papers that help the customers to identify the service and products they need. However, the staffs in Sophie help the consumers to understand the benefits and side effects of beauty treatment and aid them in every possible way. The advertising process of Sophie is mostly online and television based. However, the main advertising mode is word of mouth promotion. They organise various events in places which promotes their services and gives them consumer recognition.  They make tie up with banks and other corporate organisations for organising events. The managers responded that consumers value good relationship and friendly gestures more than free services or discount plans. The service structure of Sophie Salon is well build and helps them serve the consumers in a better manner. The promotional activities focus on target consumers through promotional events and word of mouth marketing.     

Response of Sanctuary Salon:

In Sanctuary Salon, the managers replied that they try to help the consumers in every possible manner. The consumers mostly know what they want to do with their hair or skin but they need expert advice from the staff regarding the kind of service or products that would give them their desired result. Most of the consumers prefer to have a temporary or cheaper service as a test first and if it suits them they go for the bigger plan. The advertising plan of Sanctuary is similar to Sophie but they prefer to do most of the promotion through social media and online adverting. They also distribute leaflets and brochures to their customers. Sometimes they advertise their special discount schemes through telephonic calls to the consumers. Sanctuary mainly focuses on target consumers and tries to build a better relationship with them by socially connecting with them.    

Q3. Based on your experience what factors are influencing customer’s decision making process? Are they recognition, Internal (past experience) or External (Internet) research?

 Response of Sophie Salon:

The managers of Sophie think that consumers purchase products based on their experience both past and present. Also consumers purchase products and services that are more familiar to them. The managers also stressed that consumers try to identify the difference after using a product or service, if they are satisfied they come again and if not they search for other options. Most of the consumers revisit the salon based on their past experience and some come because of word of mouth publicity. Apart from these inner environment and ambience also contributes significantly in consumer decision making process. According to the responses of the managers in Sophie, the decision making process of the consumers is mostly based on their past experience.

Response of Sanctuary Salon:

The managers in Sanctuary Salon also replied to the above question in a similar manner. They highlighted that consumers become loyal because of the service being provided to them, their decision making process is based on the experience received from the salon. Consumers are mostly influenced by word of mouth publishing that can be termed as an end product of experience. Some of the consumers however are influenced by the brand recognition and promotional ads. These customers come in with a high expectation and are difficult to handle as they are not completely aware of the service structure. The managers of Sanctuary also stated that consumers also focus on the kind of relationship and the behaviour of the staffs; these factors contribute extensively in framing the consumers’ decision.

Q4. Do you agree that positive consumer behaviour in your beauty salon can be shaped by friendly, fair and creative work environment?

Response of Sophie Salon:                    

The managers of Sophie salon believe that creative work environment, healthy and fair relationship with the clients is directly related with positive consumer behaviour. Most of the consumers visiting the salon are often nervous about the service or the outcome of the service. The staffs try to make them comfortable and help them in deciding their service or products. The managers referred Sophie Salon as a jolly place to work in. It is important that the staffs are always in good mood and show good behaviour towards the customers. The consumers like to feel important and attained to in the salon. Sophie tries to serve the customers without discriminating them which helps frame the relationship between the staffs and the clients. Most of the new clients come through word of mouth publications or recommendations of friends and family, this makes the bonding with the staff is quite easy. Ultimately, the managers think that behaviour of the staffs and friendly work environment is quite necessary for framing positive consumer behaviour. 

Response of Sanctuary Salon:

The answers of the managers of Sanctuary Salon tally with the responses of the managers of Sophie Salon. They also believe that friendly work environment is necessary for building positive consumer behaviour. The managers reply that employees of the salon are always eager to help out the clients and make them comfortable. They try to provide many facilities like television, play room for kids, etc which helps the consumers relax while getting the service. The staffs contacts the customers on a weekly basis to enquire about the next service date or sometimes also makes casual calls for making a better relationship with the customers. However, the managers also stated that too much casualness in the work environment may hamper the quality of service so they supervise the working of the floor regularly. According to the managers, friendly atmosphere is necessary in building positive consumer behaviour and creating a better and long-term relationship with the consumers.

Q5. Do you think that giving individual attention to each customer would increase customer satisfaction or there are customers who just came to fulfil their basic needs?

Response of Sophie Salon:                    

The managers of Sophie Salon believe that every consumer has different requirements and should be given special attention. The main concern for the staffs is to provide the consumers most suitable treatment or service that would suit their skin type, age and other demographical factors. This way the staffs get into the confidence of the customers and the level of consumer satisfaction is also enhanced. The managers also replied that there are some customers who visit the shop rarely for getting simple needs. These customers are also treated with the same attention as for the regular customers. The managers agree that individual attention is necessary for enhancing consumer satisfaction.

Response of Sanctuary Salon:

In case of Sanctuary Salon, the managers stated that individual attention improves the level of consumer satisfaction but it also can create a feeling of ignorance or jealousy among them. The managers of Sanctuary Salon are more cautious in providing individual attention. They stated that the loyal customers are provided extra benefits in terms of discounts and schemes but the overall service structure for the customers are always same. This encourages irregular customers to visit the salon more often and avail the discount benefits. So, according to the response of the Sanctuary managers’ individual consumer attention increases consumer satisfaction but it keeping it within certain limits helps the Salon gain more loyal customers.

Q6.What strategies are used to motivate the customers to visit the salon regularly?

Response of Sophie Salon:                     

The managers highlighted that good service and affectionate behavior from the staffs is the most motivating factor the customers to revisit the salon.  The main focus is to keep the consumers happy during their visit. Moreover, discount schemes, style events, price cut off and free services also contribute in motivating the customers. The managers also spoke about individual attention being one of the most important factors for consumer motivation. In Sophie, they focus on the providing better service quality by adding a more personal touch to impress the customers. The managers respond that most of the consumers visiting the Salon are not concerned about the price so price oriented motivating factors are not that important for them. Other than these, hygiene and ambience also motivate the customers. The researcher could gather that Sophie focuses on building a better relationship with the client for motivating them to revisit the salon.

Response of Sanctuary Salon:

Managers of Sanctuary believe that price reducing factors are the most motivating factors for consumers. The consumers are more attracted towards monetary benefits. They prefer discount plans, free services, extra benefits, etc in comparison to other motivating factors. The managers observed that most of their customers are concerned about the price of the services as compared to other factors. Some customers are more motivated by staff behavior and their relationship with the salon. In the end, the managers stated that motivating factors for customers differ according to their needs and requirements.

Conclusions and Recommendations

5.0 Conclusion:

The purpose of the current study was to find out the motivational factors influencing the choice of beauty salons in U.K. Using deductive approach, existing theories of human motivation, consumer behavior, theory of conspicuous consumption, service quality model etc. were studied and then primary research was conducted in the context of such secondary data.  In this chapter, the results obtained from empirical research in chapter 4 will be discussed in relation to literature review studied in chapter 2. To achieve this, the research objectives outlined in first chapter will be linked with the conclusions to make sure the objectives have been satisfied.

5.1 Linking objectives with conclusion:

Objective 1

To analyze the factors that motivate consumers for choosing and visiting beauty salons in U.K.

Consumers have different motivating factors to choose and visit a beauty salon. This necessitates salons to tailor their products & services according to every customers’ needs. In reference to table 6,  (Part A, chapter 4), the motivating factors are identified as level of personal service, price, location, cleanliness, availability or treatments, loyalty programs, location etc.This also established the link between service quality and consumer behavior. Customers from Sophie Health care and Sanctuary salon have responded differently to such motivating factors that reveal their attitudes and behavior regarding choice of services. Table no 4, shows the frequency of visits which also varies among consumers of two different beauty salons. Motivated consumers visit more regularly as compared to consumers whose motivational levels do not stimulate them to visit salons frequently.

Objective 2

To understand consumer behavior of beauty salon customers’ and how it is influenced by motivation

Understanding consumer behavior is a complex issue, particularly for services which are intangible. As depicted in Table nos 1,2 and 3, beauty salon customers vary extensively in terms of gender, age, annual income etc. Their buying behavior also varies accordingly while selecting, visiting and remaining loyal to a beauty salon. Reference to table no 5, also talks about the way customers search information, gather information which helps in their decision making to purchase products & services. Table no 7, shows the variety of services that salon visitors use while table no 8 shows whether they visit beauty salons before attending a special occasion. Table no 10, shows that few consumers also visit other salons apart from the current one.

Demotivated customers also have intentions to switch over to a different brand if the current service provider is unable to satisfy their needs and preferences, as shown in table no 12.  Such empirical findings clearly present a study on motivation and its impact on consumer behavior of beauty salons.

Objective 3

To identify the strategies formulated and implemented by salon owners  in attracting potential customers and retaining existing ones:

Reference to table no 11, findings indicate that existing consumers look for potential improvements in the current level of services.Seeking customer feedback & suggestions and implementing them as far as possible is one of the best ways to retain existing consumers. The same consumers, if motivated/satisfied spread positive word of mouth to others and help in attracting potential customers. Table no 9, shows that majority of the customers from Sophie salon have discount cards, which also helps in retaining customers.

Reference to Q.2, ( in Part B, Qualitative research, chapter 4), the managers of Sophie salon and sanctuary salon revealed that they advertise their brands through online channels, social media organizing events and word of mouth. Q.4 explains that the salons have trained their professional staffs to maintain good rapport with customers, handle their queries and complaints effectively to retain their custom. Q.5, reveals that salon owners treated each and every client as special, irrespective of the services they avail or money they spend. Tailoring the services as per individual customer needs, loyalty offers, discount cards were other means of retaining existing customers.

5.2 Recommendations:

Having an effective Customer relationship management (CRM) in place:

 Salon owners, in spite of operating on a small scale or medium scale basis must, must have a CRM team to identify, segment, retain and attract potential customers. The Corporate office associates (beyond sales personnel, beauty care professionals or therapists) should individually connect with each customer in a manner that presents the brand to them in a positive,consistent, strong, and a personal way. Customers must be provided with choices—so that they feel free to call customer services, e-mail or even fax their orders. Existing customers can be called up to ask about their satisfaction level and explain about follow up services.

Help customers to spread positive word of mouth:

Salons should not only focus on customer satisfaction, but create exceed their expectations and create customer delight. Good range of personal services, competitive price, variety of services, cleanliness, interior design & atmosphere, loyalty programs, discount cards, coupons and redeemable vouchers are basic customer requirements that nearly all salons strive to achieve. Few extended services such as having a small kiosk with computers having internet connection where consumers can check their emails while waiting for their turn, can be a good idea. Modern consumers are time constrained and engaging them in an important activity would save their time. Such satisfied customers would definitely recommend the brand to others and help in increasing the consumer base.

Extensive use of internet & social media for marketing:

Modern customers rely more on internet search and social media for choosing a salon rather than relying on traditional advertising channels such as T.V.,print advertisements etc. Salons can build their own website and start a weekly, fortnightly or monthly newsletter for offering special services and promotions to customers. Encourage customers to speak by developing slogans like “We Are Listening” and request for feedback. Clients can also be asked to log on to websites such as , where they can post reviews about their experiences. Moreover, salon owners can advertise their products & services by creating profiles on websites like ‘’ and ‘’ in a cost effective way. This will help to connect the clients with the accurate type of stylists they are looking for.

5.3 Limitations of the study:

Due to time and financial constraints, the researcher was only able to conduct research based on two salons only. Quantitative Data through questionnaire could only be collected from 62 salons consumers. Focus groups could not be organized due to non availability of appointments from salon managers, and individual face to face interview was conducted from one manager each from the respective salons.

5.4 Scope for future research:

 Future researchers can use the current research as a valuable source of data and apply the findings to solve few research problems. Scholars can also conduct research, not only on customer motivation but employee motivation as well for other service industries apart from salons. Service industries such as telecommunications, hospitality & tourism, education etc are other important sectors which need motivated staff and consumers for survival in the fiercely competitive market.


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