The Beauty Industry Trends to Implement in 2021

Beauty Industry Trends

Every year, we survey our Acuity Scheduling users to get a glimpse into the landscape of small businesses. Based on the findings in our 2020 year-end user survey, we’ve identified the latest small business trends, so solopreneurs and small business owners can head into 2021 with a plan of action.

After all, in 2020, there was one thing that nearly every business owner had in common: 

The COVID-19 pandemic made an impact on small businesses everywhere. 

But how severe was the impact? And what’s the outlook for the future of small businesses?

Here’s what you told us about your beauty businesses in 2020, plus our recommendations for how to use these trends to adapt to what’s next for the beauty industry in 2021.

1 | Beauty small businesses were hit especially hard.

Of the beauty industry professionals who use Acuity and responded, 57% said the pandemic affected their business in 2020, with nearly half of those business owners highly impacted by the pandemic. 

This isn’t surprising, right? After all, so many of the pandemic’s effects directly impact the professionals who work their magic in-person. (It’s harder to give someone an incredible perm over a video call.)

With stay-at-home orders, capacity restrictions, and social distancing mandates in place, beauty salons have directly absorbed those repercussions. 65% of beauty professionals have closed their doors temporarily, 38% cut their own pay, and 34% applied for business grants and loans.

If you need to seek a little extra support for your business in 2021, remember that you're not alone.

2 | Things might take awhile to turn around, but beauty pros are resilient.

Saying good riddance to 2020 doesn’t mean the struggle is instantly over (unfortunately). 82% of respondents across industries expect the effects of the pandemic to continue for up to a year, and 18% expect the effects to reverberate even well beyond 2021.

But where there’s been strife, there’s also been resilience. Even those hit hardest seem to be ready for a comeback: 81% of survey respondents are optimistic about their business outlook in 2021, which is deeply inspiring. 

Many of you have already adapted to pandemic-related restrictions, making the most of what the world throws at us. Of our 2020 beauty industry respondents, only 3% began to offer services online only, and 10% pivoted to a hybrid of in-person and online services, but over 1/3 found new revenue streams, such as selling gift cards. 

It makes sense that services requiring hands-on expertise are harder to translate to an online platform—but there are creative options out there for you. For example, some beauty business owners have pivoted online with virtual classes to teach clients how to cut their partners’ hair, or how to give themselves a professional-grade manicure. 

As the pandemic continues to affect your beauty business in 2021, make sure you integrate your services with video conferencing tools to create virtual beauty consultations and classes. Make it easy with with Zoom, Google Hangouts,, and GoToMeeting, so you can continue to serve clients wherever they are. 

There’s no doubt that the beauty industry has been impacted deeply by pandemic-related restrictions, but it’s just as clear that beauty entrepreneurs have a resourcefulness and resiliency to reopen and keep growing in 2021, stronger than before.

3 | Online tools are especially crucial for your business’s growth. 

Survey respondents credited three key online tools as the most helpful and valuable tools for their businesses in 2020: social media marketing, a business website, and online scheduling software. 

  • Promoting your business on social media is powerful.

In 2020, 94% of respondents acquired new users, regardless—and, in some cases, because of—the pandemic. Word of mouth is still the acquisition queen. 83% of beauty professional respondents said they acquired new clients through word of mouth in 2020, so if you don’t already have a word of mouth strategy, move that up your 2021 marketing to-do list. 

But as far as tools for getting the word out about their business, social media reigns. Over 75% of beauty industry respondents said social media is the #1 or #2 most valuable tools for their business’ growth.

As for beauty respondents’ favorite social platforms for marketing: Instagram and Facebook still dominate. Acuity Scheduling has booking integrations with both of those platforms: You can , or . Offering the option to book straight from those social profiles creates a more seamless experience for clients who discover you through social media. 

We also saw TikTok become more prominent in 2020 with beauty entrepreneurs, with 16% of beauty industry respondents naming it as their social media channel of choice.

It’s worth noting that 18% of beauty professionals who responded even created new social media accounts for their businesses in 2020. It’s never too late to make updates to how you market your business online. Take stock of which channels your current and prospective clients are most engaged, and update your social strategy accordingly in 2021. 

  • A business website is the core of your digital presence.

A professional looking and user-friendly homebase like a website can make a huge difference in attracting clients. 53% of beauty pro respondents said that having a website for their business was one of the most helpful business tools this past year, and 16% of respondents across industries had created a new website for their business in 2020.

If you’re ready to launch a website in 2021, makes it simple. You can elevate your branding and expand your business’s footprint with ’s all-in-one suite of tools (including ) to help your business stand out to current and prospective clients. 

  • Scheduling software is key to getting paid.

If your revenue relies on scheduling appointments, then it’s critical you find the right online scheduling software for your business. 62% of beauty professional respondents named online scheduling software as the #1 or #2 most helpful online tool for their business in 2020. 

One of the key features we recommend as part of online scheduling software is the ability to integrate a payment processor (such as with Stripe, Square, or PayPal). By automating online scheduling in conjunction with an integrated payment processor, you can help your income become a little more predictable during an unpredictable time. 

Accepting contactless payments and deposits with your integrated payment processor at the point of scheduling is a key factor in reducing client no-shows: 70% of beauty survey respondents who accept deposits said that requiring deposits has helped them to reduce client cancellations and no-shows. We predict this trend will grow in 2021 as more businesses integrate a payment processor and require deposits at the point of booking. Requiring a deposit helps to protect your time and revenue. 

When you choose Acuity Scheduling as your scheduling software, we make it easier to weather the pandemic in 2021 and beyond. You can set up new revenue streams, including client subscriptions, appointment packages, group classes, and gift cards. You can even accept donations and sliding scale payments

4 | Acuity Scheduling saved time every week for 93% of beauty entrepreneurs.

When time is literally money, it’s important to find ways to save more of it for the work that matters most. A good scheduling platform not only helps you book clients and boost revenue, it helps you save time. Acuity Scheduling is the affordable, user-friendly choice for automated client scheduling that takes the headache out of the booking process. 

In fact, 93% of beauty industry survey respondents said that Acuity Scheduling saves them time each week, with 68% of those business owners saving up to 5 hours per week. That’s 260 more hours in a year that you can focus on your actual work, and less time on the logistics of getting there. Simply tell Acuity when you’re available and what you’re offering, and let clients self-schedule online 24/7. 
One of Acuity’s key time savers is our ease of automated client reminders. When you automate reminders, it helps you build client relationships in a fraction of the time. It also, crucially, helps prevent no-shows. In fact, 84% of beauty survey respondents use SMS text or email reminders, and 84% of those who use them say that reminders help to cut down on the number of clients who miss their appointments.

So, what’s one of your key steps toward maintaining client relationships, getting paid, and saving time in 2021? With the business world moving more online in 2021, it’s important to safeguard your time with SMS. Customize those SMS texts and emails as part of your client onboarding flow with Acuity Scheduling. 

5 | Business owners are prioritizing self-care. 

We can’t talk about the most important tools for running your business during the pandemic without highlighting one of the most crucial and overlooked habits: taking care of yourself. 

When we say “self-care,” we don’t mean long hot baths and face masks (although those sure can help sometimes). We mean actually taking some days off from focusing on your business, and spending that time reconnecting with yourself and your community instead. 

13% of beauty survey respondents took at least 11 days off in 2020, which is close to the 12% of users we surveyed in 2019. And the number of respondents who didn’t take any time off was nearly cut in thirds, from 28% in 2019 to 10% in 2020. It’s no wonder, given that self-care is such a precious commodity right now.

2020 was a lot of things for all of us, personally and professionally. But one of the most important lessons for 2021 is to take the time to actually recharge away from work in order to beat burnout, feel fresher, and focus more deeply on work when we return to it. Self-care helps your business, it helps your clients, and it helps you not only survive, but thrive. 

If you start using even one of these trends in 2021, it should be this one: a well-balanced schedule. , and remember that this year is a marathon, not a sprint. 

Cheers to your business in 2021, complete with a clink of our cider mugs.

2020 was tough on all of us, but when we take stock of how far we’ve come as a collective, we can feel proud of ourselves—and each other—for all we’ve accomplished this year.

Here’s to taking what we’ve learned, what we’ve survived, and the new strategies we’ve mastered to make 2021 the year of us.