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How Great Clips Leverages a Multi-Tiered Marketing Strategy to Spread Brand Awareness on Both National and Local Levels
Great Clips' marketing strategy was designed with one overarching goal in mind—to effectively transition customers from being new to the brand to being great customers that frequent their local salon month after month.

You don’t grow your franchise brand to over 4,100 locations by sheer luck. Just ask the team at Great Clips.

For 35 years, Great Clips’ approach to dominating the industry has hinged on simplicity. Rather than feeling the need to keep up with fads that come and go, the brand has stuck to—and honed—the basics: a no-frills hair cut that customers can feel good about. Today, that tactic has clearly worked in Great Clips’ favor—this billion-dollar company recently celebrated 49 consecutive quarters of same-salon sales growth.

In addition to the business model itself, much of the brand’s success comes from its multi-tiered approach to marketing. And according to Heather Briggs, the senior director of marketing planning for Great Clips, this strategy was designed with one overarching goal in mind—to effectively transition customers from being new to the brand to being great customers that frequent their local salon month after month. To do this, Great Clips focuses on emphasizing one of its key differentiators in the industry—its online check-in technology, which gives customers the freedom to check wait times and employees the ability to effectively manage appointments.  

“We have invested more than $1 million in core customer research to help identify what our customers want and expect when they enter our salons. What we found was that, time and time again, they’re drawn in by our convenient technology. We were the first in the hair care space to introduce this game-changing technology, and we realized a great opportunity to better position our brand in front of new customers with that in mind,” Briggs said. “With this research, Great Clips developed an extensive marketing strategy that starts system-wide and extends down to each individual store and their local communities. And our goal is to ensure that franchisees have all of the marketing they need to be as successful as possible.”

This starts with Great Clips’ system-wide marketing. From NASCAR to college football playoffs, Great Clips invests in sponsorships and advertisements for high-profile events to broadcast their brand to a nationwide audience. Since 2012, Great Clips has sponsored Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 5 Chevrolet SS team of driver Kasey Kahne in the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Most recently, the brand extended its sponsorship contract through 2018.

“We have built a successful partnership with Hendrick Motorsports over the last several years that has allowed us to elevate our brand and partner programs to a new level,” Briggs said. “Nationwide sponsorships like this create an incredible excitement around the Great Clips brand name throughout the entire marketplace.”

Great Clips not only creates and executes a system-wide marketing plan, but also assists each market and individual franchisees with their marketing efforts as well. Marketing managers work with the local markets to establish a yearly plan using funds provided by that market's franchisees. Franchisees also work with Great Clips’ associate marketing managers to help design their salon-level marketing efforts throughout the year.

“With a mission to generate brand awareness amongst a customer base, each market has their own marketing calendar. This includes everything from print promotions and newspaper mentions, to highlighting discounted haircuts and sponsoring local sporting events,” Briggs said.

Great Clips also helps franchisees assess their salon’s individual needs, which includes extensive grand opening support to make the biggest splash possible in a new community and a customized digital marketing plan designed to reach and interact with more customers. Great Clips’ marketing team and operations team will then work closely together to make sure each tailored marketing strategy is being properly executed.

It’s this kind of far-reaching approach, Briggs said, that truly helps Great Clips stand out in the competitive salon industry—both to customers and to franchisees in search of a brand they can be proud of.

“Because of the fact that we’re 100 percent franchisee owned, we have the unique opportunity to focus on individual needs of franchisees. Some of our competitors will spend a lot of money on system-wide marketing. Others are very localized,” Briggs said. “At Great Clips, we have the right mix and the ideal balance. And with that, we’re can service the franchisee on each and every level.”