A Look Ahead
Diversity Highlights 2006 Spa Trends
The more than 12,000 spa locations in the United States
generate $11.2 billion in revenues. Trends point toward continued growth in the
non-invasive esthetic and medical areas if spa professionals understand the
needs of their clients and offer them what they want: to reward themselves,
decompress, treat a condition or look and feel younger.
Day spas continue to make up the largest
segment of the spa industry, representing 72 percent of the 12,102 spa locations
in the United States, according to the International SPA Association (ISPA).
However, the hottest markets in the spa industry are medical spas and, to a
lesser extent, resort/destination spas and wellness centers. As in years past, non-invasive anti-aging is a unifying theme
among the developing subsectors of the spa industry.
According to data from the National Consumers League (NCL),
nearly 90 million Americans currently use or have used products or procedures in
an attempt to reduce visible signs of aging. Sales of anti-aging treatments are soaring, especially among
baby boomers. However, consumers are not satisfied with over-the-counter
products in this category; drugstore solutions were “worth it” for only 53
percent of women, NCL data shows. This dissatisfaction with packaged retail
solutions has funneled more clients to their local spas for special services and
“All types of spas will benefit from enhanced, non-invasive,
non-irritating spa treatments,” says Roger Ignon, president of Edge Systems
Corp. “According to a study by Medical Insight, 60 million
non-invasive aesthetic treatments per year will be performed by 2006. Around
$650 million was spent last year on equipment needed to carry out these
treatments, and the market is expected to grow as much as 25 percent annually
over the next five years.”
The equipment market is one of the growth categories for spa
operators. “We believe unique equipment is the key to a successful spa—equipment
that you can’t order on eBay,” says Bari Mayberry, vice president of sales
at Vibraderm, Inc. “The mircodermabrasion market in 2003 was a $2.3 billion
market that is growing to $3.6 billion by the end of 2006. We believe the trend
is not to sandblast the skin through exfoliation, but to use exfoliation as a
tool to condition the skin to accept topicals the clinicians apply.”
The spate of new equipment has come just in time. According to
the ISPA’s 2004 Spa Industry Study, “Industry executives indicated that
there was a ‘revolution’ in cosmetic procedures, such that consumers can ‘look
better’ without the need for cosmetic surgery. As baby boomers age, there is
an increased interest in cellulite treatments, glycolics and skincare products.”
Equipment either can be used for stand-alone services—which
justify a higher purchase price and premium charges for treatments—or for
add-ons to existing services. “Another potentially profitable area is
utilization of machines that combine complementary treatments in one machine,
enabling spas to expand their service menu diversity in a cost-effective manner,”
Medical spas have been the fastest-growing sector of the
industry, in terms of the number of new locations, for more than two years. It’s unlikely the growth of medical spas will slow anytime
soon, as baby boomers comprise 28 percent of the U.S. population and 50 percent
of the national economy, says medical-spa consultant Lisa Travis. Furthermore,
the growth rate of professional U.S. skincare channels is projected to be
highest in medical spas, at just over 20 percent, according to Feedback Research
Services (courtesy of CBI Laboratories, Inc.).
Dermatology services follow with more than 15 percent growth
in medical spas. “I see the ambiance and approach of a spa combined with the
availability of medical-level esthetic treatments—both surgical and
non-invasive— contributing to the success of medical spas,” Ignon says.
The marriage of spa and medicine constantly is in flux, as
spas strive to find a balance between the warm, inviting atmosphere of a day spa
and the structured, clinical feel of a medical center. These spas may find
success by adding a personal touch, such as embroidered linens or plush robes. Neutral tones are also inviting, and splashes of bold color
can add impact. But spa operators must remember that continuity of design is
key. On the operations side, it’s the little things that make a difference in
completing the transition from spa to medical spa. Following up with phone calls
and letters, and calling clients by their first names adds to the welcoming,
friendly nature of the facility.
Of course, a medical spa’s bread-and-butter is quality
services and treatments. Non-invasive services have high appeal for clients, and
the demand continues to grow because these services tend to be less expensive than invasive techniques such as
surgery, and they often require less downtime. According to Travis,
microdermabrasion and chemical peels, as well as lasers, IPLs, LEDs and
radio-frequency-technology procedures continue to be popular. For added enhancement, mechanical lymphatic drainage
frequently is incorporated into other procedures.
As for emerging invasive treatments, a new form of
non-invasive lift for the neck and brows, called Contour ThreadLift™, has
recently been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This
threading anti-aging treatment incorporates Contour Threads™ and usually takes
less than an hour, according to Vincent C. Giampapa, M.D., F.A.C.S., chairman
and chief science officer of Suracell. He notes patients are recovered within a few days, and
potential complications are virtually non-existent as compared to surgical
Also finding their way onto spa menus are minimally invasive
treatments such as Botox® injections
and other cosmetic fillers, which continue to gain in popularity. Certain vein
treatments and cellulite therapies are additional options for spas to consider.
“All types of spas will benefit from offering a minimum of
invasive treatments that currently are offered in medical facilities,” says
Melinda Clark, CEO of Luxuriant LLC. “I see classes being offered in the near
future for clients to learn about plastic surgery options, teeth whitening and
homecare treatments to perform between spa visits.”
The purpose of medical treatments in the spa is to attain and
maintain desirable cosmetic results. Thus, series treatments are essential to
the success of the medical spa, as they not only generate a steady flow of
repeat business, but also keep clients happy with their looks over a prolonged
period of time. Since the goal is to achieve a long-term commitment from
clients, it is important that spa staff spend quality time in the treatment
consulting process and manage the client’s expectations.
The medical treatment sector is growing so rapidly that it is
dividing into disciplines such as dermatology, OB/GYN, plastic surgery and
“We are seeing a significant increase in the number of
medical professionals positioning to expand into the medicalspa market,” says
Tom Clancy, vice president of marketing for Aesthetics Medical, Inc. “That
interest should fuel growth in 2006 and beyond, after the present education
curve is overcome.”
He advises spas considering these treatments to add a separate
facility entrance and maintain separate areas for medical and traditional spa
Some medical spas are incorporating wellness into their
treatments. They offer a more complete range of nutrition/ hydration to complete
the body’s spa treatment from the inside, Clark explains. These institutions of holistic healing are expanding along
with the aging population, although their growth is not as significant as that
of medical spas.
“Baby boomers are concerned about their health and overall
wellness of mind, spirit and body,” Ignon adds.
Mayberry agrees wellness centers will continue to gain
popularity. “The holistic approach, versus strict medicine, will be a hit,”
Eastern techniques often are used as the basis of treatments
in wellness centers. Spas in other segments of the industry can boost profits by
supplementing existing treatments and increasing the client’s overall
experience with holistic add-on services.
“Healing therapies that enhance health and beauty from
within—Ayurveda, Oriental medicine, acupuncture and hydrotherapy—will
continue to grow in popularity as they become more mainstream,” Travis says.
Resort And Destination Spas
Due to the turbulent state of the world, business at resort
spas has suffered along with the leisure travel industry in recent years.
However, spa experts agree, this sector is beginning to pick up again. As the travel industry revitalizes, vacationers are more apt
to spend money on pampering themselves.
“Once travelers are at their destination, they are now more
accustomed to the spa services being offered and therefore will often spend more
travel dollars on spa services than in the past,” Clancy says.
The strengthening of the resort and destination sector is
surfacing in industry statistics. According to ISPA data, resort and hotel spas
remain strong players in the industry, despite currently running a distant
second to day spas in terms of number of locations (14 percent). Mayberry believes that a big part of winning the leisure
travel client back to resort and destination spas will be in offering equipment
services and flexible, convenient hours.
Despite differences among U.S. spas, core services and client
attention still spell financial success.
“There are several services that span all sectors and are
staples of any spa, regardless of their specific denomination,” Clancy says. “Those include microdermabrasion, massage,
facial, light therapy, photo-epilation (hair removal), photofacial and one or
two quality skincare lines.”
A relaxing and luxurious environment is another mainstay of
successful spas. However, the most successful spas will adopt a judicious
approach to the development of their properties, according to Clancy.
“It is easy to get enamored by the glitz of the facility and
significantly overspend on non-revenue-producing assets,” he adds. “Those who stay focused on cash flow and quality will be the
most successful.” Mayberry agrees and adds that, as part of judicious funds,
spas need to closely monitor product sales. “We see many spas carrying large
inventories of their topicals and lotions,” he says. “They need to focus on
what they sell and eliminate slower-selling inventory. Making revenue work harder for the business should be their
2006 goal.” Industry experts also predict many 2005 trends will continue
into the coming year. For instance, Clark says one of the 2006 trends will be
essentialoil oxygen therapy pumped throughout the spa environment. Eventually
the systems will be offered to clients for home use. She further predicts the
following categories will transcend trends and become a part of the staple spa
offerings in 2006.
Not too long ago, a man needed to be dragged into a spa by his
significant other. Once he got there, however, he often realized the benefits
and enjoyment of a spa. More urban, professional men are adopting grooming
regimens once viewed as feminine in their intensity and detail. This includes
greater attention to hairstyle, hair appearance throughout the day, and look of
facial skin, hands and nails.
“We are definitely seeing the most visible growth in the men’s
sector,” Clark says. Men now make up 23 percent of all spa visits and
purchases, according to the ISPA 2004 Spa Industry Study. The fact is men
recognize that women appreciate men who are well-groomed.
“People are starting to understand that going to spas is not
just a fluffy event in life—it’s more of a need,” says Barbara
Schumann-Ortega, vice president and lead educator for Wilma Schumann. “I think a lot of times men don’t take time for certain
aspects of personal care unless there’s a need for it. Now that they’re
realizing the need—that there are benefits to having your skin and body taken
care of—they’re taking advantage of that.”
On the service end, estheticians must recognize men have
distinct beauty concerns—such as larger pores and skin irritation from daily
facial shaving—and tailor techniques specifically for them. Staff also may need to engage and educate men, because they
sometimes are hesitant to offer information about themselves.
“Men sort of act like they don’t care about spa care, but
I find they do—if you know how to talk to them about it,” says Charles L. Mizelle, national director of corporate
development for Sothys USA, Inc. “It’s very important that staff be trained
on the differences of how men and women think—what motivates a man versus a
woman. A staff’s language and how it communicates with men needs to
be appropriate or it’s going to scare the guys off.”
On the retail side, products geared toward men must be
straightforward and uncomplicated. They must be packaged for men, too, since men
won’t be too thrilled about using a moisturizer designed for a woman.
“Men spend money all the time, if it’s something
they feel is justified and they need,” Mizelle says. “Our industry needs to
effectively communicate to men why they want certain products.”
He notes the spa industry could get a little smarter about
presenting homecare products, packaging them together, keeping them simple and
making them enticing to men.
The surge in male clientele at spas also has led to a shift in
ambiance. Some spas even have separate areas for men and women. The men’s side
may include a television and male-oriented reading material such as The Wall
Street Journal, The New York Times, Sports Illustrated and
Spa guests have come to appreciate the less-is-more concept
when it comes to spa design and decor. Interior design (at home and in retail)
favors more minimalist, neutral color palettes— nothing vivid or bright. Soft,
incandescent track lighting, minimally decorated walls and simple window
treatments also are the trend. Spa decor extends to the amenities offered to
guests, including fruit, teas, color therapy rooms, tranquility lounges, and a
variety of lotions, loofahs, personal care and hair-care items.
Spa staff needs to be prepared to accommodate teenage guests,
as more adolescents are under stress and are increasingly seeking refuge in a
spa environment. The ISPA 2004 Consumer Trends Report states, “Teenagers are
entering the spa world for cosmetic spa services. Among consumers we met, there
is strong evidence that teenagers now are highly predisposed to go to day spas
for services they once went exclusively to nail and beauty salons to receive.”
The Year Ahead
As we head into 2006, spa professionals need to evaluate their
offerings and identify their clientele and the services best suited for them
while assuring nice returns on their investments.
While trends point toward continued growth in the non-invasive
aesthetic and medical areas, spa professionals constantly need to evaluate
services that will keep them ahead of their competition.
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