The Economics of the Nails Business: How They Make Money

The nails business, also known as the nail salon industry, has seen tremendous growth in recent years.

From simple manicures and pedicures to elaborate nail art and nail extensions, this industry offers a wide range of services to cater to the growing demand for nail care.

Behind the creative and artistic aspects lies a thriving economic engine.

According to, it’s fairly typical for nail salons to bring in $500,000 in revenue per year.

In this article, we will explore the economics of the nails business and understand how these establishments generate revenue and make a profit.

1. Service-Based Revenue Model

Nail salons primarily operate on a service-based revenue model.

They generate income by providing various nail care services to customers.

These services often include basic manicures and pedicures, nail enhancements such as acrylic or gel extensions, nail art, and treatments like nail strengthening or cuticle care.

Customers are typically charged a fee for each service they receive, which can vary based on the complexity and duration of the service.

Prices may also vary depending on factors such as the location of the salon, the reputation of the nail technicians, and the quality of materials used.

Nail salons may offer a menu of services with corresponding prices or provide customized services based on customer preferences.

2. Upselling and Add-On Services

To enhance their revenue streams, nail salons often engage in upselling and offering add-on services.

Upselling involves encouraging customers to upgrade their services or opt for additional treatments to enhance their nail care experience.

For example, a customer who initially planned to get a basic manicure may be enticed to upgrade to a gel manicure or add nail art for an additional fee.

Add-on services complement the primary nail care services and provide an opportunity for additional revenue.

These can include treatments like hand and foot massages, paraffin wax dips, exfoliation, or moisturizing treatments. By offering these add-ons, nail salons can increase the value of each customer visit and boost their earnings.

3. Retailing Nail Care Products

Many nail salons also generate revenue by retailing nail care products.

These products can include nail polishes, cuticle oils, hand creams, nail treatments, and tools such as nail files, buffers, and clippers.

By offering these products for sale, nail salons not only provide convenience to customers but also create an additional revenue stream.

Retailing nail care products can be profitable as customers often seek professional recommendations and prefer purchasing products directly from the salon.

Nail salons may stock popular brands and exclusive lines, ensuring a diverse range of options for customers to choose from.

The profit margin on these products can vary, but it provides an opportunity for salons to increase their earnings and build customer loyalty.

4. Loyalty Programs and Memberships

To encourage repeat business and maintain customer loyalty, many nail salons implement loyalty programs and memberships.

These programs typically offer incentives such as discounted services, priority bookings, or exclusive access to special promotions.

By rewarding customers for their continued patronage, nail salons can foster long-term relationships and secure a stable customer base.

Membership models often involve a monthly or annual fee, providing customers with a set of benefits throughout their membership period.

These benefits can include discounted or bundled services, free add-ons, or access to member-only events.

Membership programs not only generate upfront revenue but also ensure a steady flow of income over an extended period.

5. Collaborations and Partnerships

Nail salons can explore collaborations and partnerships to expand their revenue streams.

This can involve teaming up with other businesses such as hair salons, spas, or beauty product retailers.

By offering joint packages or cross-promoting services, both parties can benefit from shared marketing efforts and tap into each other’s customer base.

Collaborations can also extend to partnerships with nail care brands or influencers.

Nail salons may host events, workshops, or product launches in collaboration with well-known brands or nail artists, attracting a wider audience and driving additional revenue through ticket sales or increased foot traffic.


The economics of the nails business are multifaceted, driven primarily by service-based revenue models, upselling, and add-on services.

Retailing nail care products, implementing loyalty programs, and exploring collaborations and partnerships further contribute to the profitability of nail salons.

By understanding these revenue streams and adapting to customer preferences, nail salons can continue to thrive in a competitive industry while providing essential nail care services to their clientele.

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