The Client of the Future part 1

A DAYSPA 3-part series

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In this first of three special installments, DAYSPA turns to industry experts and asks,

“Who is the client of the future?”

Check back each month for revealing insights on the treatments and services future clients will be demanding as well as the best marketing strategies to get the client of tomorrow into your spa—today!

DAYSPA: Before the 1990s, the typical day spa client was perceived to be a lady of leisure—middle-aged, accustomed to the finer things, non-working. That stereotype gradually faded as the day spa movement made the experience more accessible. By the mid-2000s, it was hard to find anyone—including men and people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds—who had never received a spa service. So, let’s get right to it: In your opinion, who is the client of the future?

MARK LEES, Ph.D., owner and president of Mark Lees Skin Care: I believe the two major client groups of the next five years are baby boomers, who have disposable income and are still prioritizing antiaging management; and Generation X, which is just beginning to notice visible symptoms of aging.

KAREN ASQUITH, national director of training, North America, G.M. Collin Skincare: The baby boomers are the first generation that has been exposed to spa services and embraced them not as a luxury but as a part of a healthy lifestyle. Many aging boomers now opt for ‘spa vacations’ to de-stress and keep them looking and feeling young and healthy.

"...their demands will gravitate to more results-driven products and treatments."

JANE WURWAND, founder and owner of Dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute: You know, we’ve always focused on women who were older who wanted to ‘recapture’ their youth, but the client of the future is also a younger client who’s looking for a service provider to help them retain their appearance, fitness, health and wellness. A lot of the future direction will be more about retention than reversal.

JOEL LACHMAN, president of Lachman Imports Inc., sole importer and distributor of Guinot Paris for the U.S.: As the market matures, the age range of spa clients will broaden, but their demands will also gravitate to more results-driven products and treatments.

Asquith: The need of boomers to remain youthful as they age has ushered in the era of the medical spa, where injectables and treatments that offer the latest and greatest antiaging ingredient for the mature client are in demand. But the proliferation of green spas and organic skincare is a direct response to the preferences of younger clients.

Wurwand: I also think that the consumer of the future is not seeking relaxation as the main benefit, but also engagement and education. I’m not talking about a destination spa client, but somebody who’s coming to spa every four to six weeks—the bread and butter client. They want a bigger payoff than relaxation: You also have to deliver a skin result.

Lees: In my own practice, I see more clients choosing scientific facial care over relaxing spa services. Treatments that are consistent in delivering known results will be preferred by clients of the future—and more expensive medical procedures may be bypassed for spa services that involve both results and personal attention.

CHRISTINE HEATHMAN, founder and CEO of GlyMed Plus: And the same services will not be as relevant to a woman of 60 as to a woman of 40 or 30. Within the next five years, spas will have to get away from the one-size-fits-all mentality. It can’t be that way. We’ve already started to see it in the skincare industry with teen skincare, men’s skincare.

"I think people that are in tune with their bodies and are aware of stress will be the spa-goers of the future."

TONY CUCCIO, founder and CEO of Cuccio Naturalé: Definitely more men will be going, because younger men are not afraid to take care of themselves. It’s no different in any other country that I travel to: You’ve got the 60-year-old guy who is old-fashioned—I don’t need a pedicure—but then the younger guys are wearing open-toe shoes and they aren’t afraid to treat themselves.

ANGELA CORTRIGHT, founder of Spa Gregorie’s: Well, I hate to sound elitist, but I think that people who are in tune with their bodies and are aware of stress will be the spa-goers of the future. I also think we’re starting to see a lot more flavors out there: little foot spas that pop up; mobile spas that go to people; dog spas. I’d love to see spas offering more mind-body treatments.

Cuccio: One of the biggest trends I see is mind spas. This is obviously five to ten years away, but let’s just say I drank too much last night and I want to go into a Detox Room and drink herbal tea; or I need some sunshine and I want a Sun Room, or a Flotation Room or a Zero Atmosphere Room. Spas will have to proliferate the meaning of health and well-being more as a mental state.

"I'm still seeing way too many images of Sleeping Beauty..."

Cortright: Spa can be a gateway to meditation, relationship management and things that help people live healthier, more holistic lives.

LISA STARR, east coast spa/salon business consultant, Wynne Business: Health and wellness issues are definitely of much bigger interest among the younger demographic than they have been in the past. Spas that want to attract them need to consider two crucial issues: social connectedness and ‘doing good.’

Wurwand: I’m still seeing way too many treatment menu images marketing what I call: Sleeping Beauty lying down, with a flower in her hair. It’s this perpetuated idea that people who go to spas have way too much time and too much desire to sleep. We have to recognize that the spa clients of today are very different—and when they look at our industry, and those images, they won’t relate to it.

Cuccio: Spas will also need to become more accessible so that elderly people feel there’s value in getting a certain spa treatment. My mother is a great example: She won’t go into a ‘spa’ because she thinks it’s too expensive. I gave a spa in Boca Raton $500 worth of product and told them, ‘Just put it toward my mom’s visits.’ But she never went. I said, ‘Mom, why aren’t you getting your pedicures there?’ She says, ‘It’s too expensive. I go to the beauty school for $10.’ The point I’m making is it’s just the name ‘spa’ that is scaring her away.

LYDIA SARFATI, founder and CEO of Repêchage: Spas will need to become more accessible to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and all ages. According to the 2010 Census, Hispanic Americans have become the largest minority group in 191 of 366 metropolitan areas. This offers spas an opportunity to cater marketing and treatments to this growing demographic, too.

PHILIPPE HENNESSY, president and CEO of Pevonia Botanica International: An upward-moving economy will still be the decisive factor in truly broadening the spa-going demographic.

DAYSPA: In your opinion, how has the economic recession impacted the profile of today’s spa client?

Hennessy: There’s no denying that the recession has narrowed the overall spa-going demographic to those at more affluent income levels. Until the economy recovers significantly, the majority of spa clients will likely be those with a higher household net worth.

Wurwand: The recession has also shown us that clients want value. It’s not about getting a cheap deal. Clients in our target market are willing to spend, but they want to know that they’re getting something for their money: I want to see results; I want to look different; I want to feel different. I’m not suggesting you take your 90-minute treatment and discount it by two-thirds—that won’t be a profitable business model. But we can do shorter treatments.

Sarfati: The recession has certainly allowed for the rise of shorter, more affordable treatments. Even with fewer people visiting spas overall, bookings for express treatments have risen by 46%. Spas that add express services to their menu are winning.

Starr: I think the recession actually may have helped broaden the spa audience—at least now that it is ending—since many spas introduced these lower price points and shorter service durations. With the advent of affordable options such as Massage Envy and Facelogic, some of the mystique of a spa visit has been lifted—and this is a good thing! Spa-going no longer requires a six-hour visit. Consumers now realize that even one hour per month can provide a much-needed recharge.

Cuccio: I think Massage Envy is great for business because it’s bringing so many more people into the world of massage and spa. It’s up to the high-end spas to continually progress, to do things to stay high end.

Cortright: One of the analogies I like to use is that Starbucks serves a great latte, and while you can get it at McDonald’s too, it’s a completely different experience. It’s the same with the spa industry. Massage Envy and Spa has democratized massage. A lot of people now see that spa is a good thing—and when they have a few more bucks, they go to the high-end spa.

Wurwand: The other thing that’s happened, is if clients can do something at home, they will. They hear: ‘Why go to an expensive day spa when you can buy this instrument and get the same result at home?’ Which we all know is not true, but we don’t say it enough. I rarely ever see it spelled out to a consumer. Instead, I often see amorphous promises: ‘You’ve never felt so relaxed,’ or ‘It’s a rejuvenating experience.’ When it should be: ‘We use this, and only we can use it, because we are licensed and qualified, and this is the result it will give you.’ Clients are really looking to spend wisely and they want to know what you’re going to do and why it can’t be done at home.

Lachman: The key is that the client still looks to the day spa for expertise, and that’s where commitment to training and support comes in.

Heathman: I believe you and I are the clients of the future. How would you like to be treated? Get into your client’s head a little more and ask yourself, ‘What would I like to see?’ Get that product up on the counter. Engage your clients more. It’s really common sense is all it is. It’s so simple: Your client of the future is right there under your roof. They will tell others about your spa, and they will have daughters, wives, sons ... your clients of the future. •