They’re stylish, cashed-up, know their own mind, and they never miss their weekly appointment. They’re the Polish Set. And they’re older than you might imagine.
Encouraging older clientele into your salon is very good for business so it pays to know what to offer them when they walk in the door. In the spirit of age equality, let’s call them the Polish Set.
Melanie Lachal, the owner of nail salon POLISH in Melbourne’s Ripponlea knows all about the power of the Polish Set. She estimates that her over-sixty clientele makes up about 30 per cent of her thriving nail business.
“I have had regular clients for over twenty years,” says Melanie Lachal. “I also look after their daughters and now some granddaughters who have followed on after watching their mothers have their nails done before them.”
The Queen, who recently turned 90 (and understands completely what works for her image), only wears Essie nail polish in Ballet Slippers. Why? It’s pale, it’s pink, it’s stylish, and it’s sheer with just the right amount of age-appropriate coverage. Just the shade to go with Her Majesty’s bold block colour styling. (The story goes that she has worn nothing else since her coiffeur sent a note to Essie founder, Essie Weingarten, asking for a bottle back in 1989.) So let’s consider The Queen, the, well, Queen Bee of the Set.
Melanie Lachal’s go-to polish for an older client? “Too easy, Alter Ego by OPI,” she says. “It’s slightly pearlescent but still current and it’s an absolute favourite with all my mature age clients.”
For the more daring, Melanie says that OPI’s Koala Berry is the polish she reaches for. “It’s a vibrant pink with a Chanel feel and depth,” she says. “It makes me think of what their era must have been like.”
Far from being forgotten nannas, Melanie’s clients know how to keep themselves looking their best. “Without sounding cliché, they are the true old school polished woman,” says Melanie. “They wouldn’t dare having anything other than fresh nails for their week of bridge, lunch and social functions.”
Aside from their timeless style, the Polish Set are loyal. They also have disposable income, more time (meaning they’re not rushing off for school pick-up or squeezing appointments in between business meetings, or cancelling…), and once you win them over, they tend to hold onto that Tuesday 11am appointment for years.
But there are some things to consider too.
“I don’t use any gel polishes,” Melanie says. “Being a mature woman, their nails [tend to be already quite] dry anyway with the lack of oestrogen in the body. A natural polish is perfect for older clients; it works well as they can sit and dry and aren’t doing the domestic duties of their younger life.”
The Polish Set also tend to like what they like, so don’t push them too far out of their comfort zone to be on trend. “They still love an oval shape,” says Melanie. “I can’t bring them to the square concept for love nor money.”
Glamorous, loyal, time rich, cashed-up, keen for a chat… What’s not to love? Yes, the 20 and 30 somethings are fun to have around, but don’t be fooled, they will skip a weekly mani to buy a pair of shoes (for them or for their kids). The older set on the other hand? Well, she’ll be there on the dot, come hail or shine.
“I really believe that having a manicure is no longer seen as an indulgence [for older clients],” says Melanie. “It’s accepted as standard maintenance in their weekly budget; almost on par with a blow wave these days.”
Welcome to the Polish Set, people.