On Monday, Olaplex hair care launched an iOS app for its network of salon professionals, in a bid to support its largest sales channel.
According to the 7-year-old brand, the professional hair-stylist app is intended to close the gap between online and offline and serve as a hair stylist’s main resource for information on the brand. Nearly 500,000 hairstylists in the U.S. use Olaplex, according to the brand. Olaplex uses a proprietary active ingredient called bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate that protects and repairs hair and has pushed a science-backed narrative to differentiate from copycats. A 2017 lawsuit between the company and L’Oréal USA over Olaplex’s formula is why the indie brand is staying close to its scientific position — L’Oréal ultimately lost the lawsuit in 2019.
“The app is a reflection of a technology platform because Olaplex is about the technology that is in our amino-acid complex,” said JuE Wong, Olaplex CEO. “We are trying to evolve into a technology company in order to deliver performance.”
The professional sales channel accounts for nearly 60% of Olaplex’s overall sales, while DTC accounts for 25% and retail represents approximately 15%. Despite the challenge of selling through salons during Covid-19, Wong said the brand’s overall year-over-year sales doubled in 2020. According to WWD, Olaplex earned $100 million in 2019 sales and is valued at $1 billion.
Key features of the app include online certification to use Olaplex products, an Ask A Pro instant messaging feature to connect with other Olaplex professionals about product usage, an affiliate program signup and management tool, and a hair health diagnosis tool. Certified professionals can join the affiliate program to earn a commission from a client’s online DTC purchase, rather than stock inventory in a salon. The hair diagnosis feature is similar to the one on the brand’s website, which asks people about their hair type and relationship with hair dye, and suggests a regimen. Wong said that the dot com hair diagnosis quiz has significantly helped boost DTC sales. Between 2019 and 2020, they increased by 300%.
“This app for salon professionals is an extension of Olaplex’s ongoing commitment to the hairdressing community,” said Tiffany Walden, Olaplex COO. “This app was created because of the demand from the professional salon community. We look forward to engaging and interacting with them in a more seamless way.”
Olaplex will work with its field team to inform and promote in-person and virtually the app to hairstylists. According to previous Glossy reporting, the salon industry is starting to rebound, with salons using the booking and payments platform Boulevard seeing close to 70% of pre-Covid revenue figures as of Dec. 2020.
“If the professional stylists continue to be supportive of Olaplex and see us as an advocate, then we will win with them each and every time,” said Wong. “When we win in the professional sector, we win at retail with the end consumer.”