HAPPY EARTH MONTH! Learn How to Retail Eco-Friendly Spa Goods

Buoy Mother Earth—and your bottom line—by selling with a conscience.

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For several years now, the organic and eco-conscious personal care market has been steadily on the rise. And, as consumers pay increasingly close attention to the foods they consume, they are also taking note of products that, in addition to being good for the environment, stand to benefit their skin and hair.

Just look at the success of stores such as Whole Foods, or the deluge of organic offerings in traditional grocery stores’ aisles. It all points to a trend that’s here to stay, according to Bergt Bieler, vice president of spa and body care at Pino Spa. “More and more people are working hard to improve our environment, and becoming more aware of how their decisions affect the world around them,” he posits.

SpaRitual’s vice president of sales, Annie McCullough, adds that by retailing an organic brand, business owners automatically cater to the consumer of today, who is more informed than ever before. “This consumer seeks safer, more holistic options when it comes to all of her products,” McCullough says.

And spa pros—being the experts consumers naturally turn to for healthy recommendations—would be wise to maximize the advantage they have over other retail environments when it comes to this market, points out Rose Fernandez, Jurlique’s vice president of North American sales. “Spas are all about being healthy and taking care of oneself,” she says. “Those carrying natural/organic skin and body care are taking that philosophy a step further by promoting a healthy lifestyle, not just a passing trend.”

Without a doubt, your day spa is well qualified to be selling natural/organic skin and body care. But how to go about doing so profitably? DAYSPA grilled eco-manufacturing principals for their most effective retailing pointers. Read on to learn the ins and outs of the organic selling exchange.

Good Vibrations

To start, consider how the average person feels following a blissful spa treatment—clients are far more in tune with their bodies and the world around them. There perhaps couldn’t be a better time to introduce some of your eco-friendly retail offerings. Many of the earth-friendly products on the market today come with literature highlighting their eco-assets—such as vegan formulas, reduced carbon manufacturing footprints, all-natural ingredients, lack of animal testing and more. “In retailing, it’s important to emphasize the stories behind the ingredients, and how they impact the community,” advises Marc Zollicoffer, director of professional spa education and sales for Aveda.

Bieler agrees, adding, “When clients purchase eco-friendly products, they should be thanked and verbally reminded that in doing so they are doing their part to keep our natural resources abundant, leaving a better world for future generations.”

After all, choosing an eco-friendly spa product is a simple extension of the eco-conscious decisions many of your clients are likely making outside your spa. “Every decision we make in our daily lives impacts the environment—what we eat, how our food and products are made, their packaging, etc.,” reminds Hernandez. “Living as healthfully as possible means considering all of our choices, including personal care.”

The Organic Experience

There are, of course, naysayers who may doubt the efficacy of organic and eco-friendly products. The best way to convince them otherwise is through experiential sampling, which can easily be incorporated into full and mini treatments. But first and foremost, you must believe in the products that you are selling, emphasizes Mary Leber, president of Beautyprophet (importers of Kneipp). “Technology and research have come so far that there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind about efficacy,” she says. “There are many new and old plant ingredients that have always worked. But, be a discerning buyer. Experience the products that you carry in your spa, and then share those experiences.”

When performing treatments, Zollicofer recommends taking inspiration from the products themselves. “Create an experience around a product’s story, using techniques and modalities originating in the area where its key ingredients were grown,” he suggests. “You can build the organic product into the treatment cost, so the guest automatically experiences its benefits.” Zollicofer also recommends hosting events to introduce mini experiences that allow guests to see and feel organic results. “Treat them to a thorough consultation and a mini service demonstrating organic/eco-friendly products, and offer personalized recommendations to help them maintain the results at home,” he suggests.

Elina Fedotova, CEO of Elina Organics, offers dubious clients various product samples, instructing them to perform side-by-side comparisons on the face or neck—conventional product on one side; organic on the other. “If it’s a good, clinical formulation, guests will be able to notice certain results after a single application,” she says. “But I tell them, ‘Smile in the mirror; compare the feeling of the creams and notice the lines and texture of your skin.’ Only after they’ve tested do I ask them to make a decision about the products.”

Bringing it Home

So how can treatments naturally engender sales of organic and eco-friendly products? Clients want to feel the lasting effects of their service when they return home; it’s up to you to show them how. “The selling experience begins in the treatment room,” says McCullough. “The spa technician should custom-recommend products that the guest can purchase afterward, to recreate her spa experience at home.”

After all, home care is one of the most important steps in taking care of your client. “She has just had a facial or a body treatment and her skin feels and looks great,” says Fernandez. “Stress that one of the best ways to extend and maximize that glow is to use the same quality product at home.”

“Most clients understand that if they wish to continue to see improvements after any procedure, they must maintain some kind of home regimen,” adds Fedotova. “If they are really interested in using healthier skin care versus something conventionally formulated, they will follow your advice.”

In addition to being your clients’ organic guru, you must also be their guide. “Teach people to perform self-massage,” suggests Leber. “It does not replace the pleasure or expertise of a professional massage, but explain that it helps to detoxify and improve circulation when used in conjunction with organic products.”

As with the retailing of any type of product, success rests in your hands, reminds Fedotova. “The financial flow of a spa is related to the quality of products and services, as well as the training of staff members,” she says. “If you put organic skin and body products on the shelf without training your staff about their benefits, revenue will remain the same.”

Accentuate the Positive

As a wellness professional, it’s increasingly important for you to stock organic and eco-friendly options, but at the same time, you don’t want anyone to feel apprehensive about the non-organic products you’ve been using and retailing for years. Our sources’ advice? Try to emphasize the benefits of the new products without disparaging any others. “Never put down another brand,” says McCullough. “Just share why you chose the particular brands you carry, and how each stands to benefit clients.”

“It’s always about educating the client and allowing them to make the best decision for themselves,” adds Fernandez. “You can tout the perks of natural/organic, and support the use of other products, without knocking either brand. Based on my experience, people will prefer natural/organic if product quality and efficacy is equal or better. Most people are willing to wait on a healthier result.”

When unsure, stick to the facts, advises Fedotova. “Offer the client a choice between two products: one organic, the other conventional,” she suggests. “For example, if a client seeks a skin lightener, show them one that uses hydroquinone, and another employing kojic acid derived from natural sources. You can point out to them that while hydroquinone may offer more intense lightening results, kojic acid is more body-friendly, with fewer potential side effects.”

Another consideration is shelf life. Some business owners may shy away from retailing organic and eco-friendly products because their shelf lives are relatively short. However, many come to appreciate the fact that a shorter product lifespan helps them to stay on top of inventory, as they end up ordering smaller batches and turning them over more quickly. Check with each manufacturer to find out how long of a shelf life their products offer. While all products perform best when fresh, you may be surprised to find that some can last two to three years under the right conditions. As with all products, keep your organic goods out of extreme temperatures and direct sunlight.

Earth-Friendly Marketing

You’ve talked about organic and earth-friendly products in the treatment room and in your retail area. How else can you market your offerings? First of all, Zollicoffer notes that just selling organic products isn’t enough. “Be authentic in your story,” he says. “You must look at all parts of your business and continually take steps to operate in a more environmentally friendly way—from your cleaning products used, to how you eliminate excess waste, aligning with like-minded vendors and more.”

And, if you are putting forth an effort to be eco-conscious, don’t be shy about promoting it. “Publicize your initiatives and offerings with window signs, in-spa signage, advertising, etc.,” says Leber. “People are beginning to search out and recognize such businesses.”

McCullough stresses that your efforts should also be communicated through your newsletter, email blasts, social media, spa menu and all collateral. “Keep information available in the spa, and educate and inform your team,” she says. “All of these measures will make clients feel good about patronizing your spa.”

And there’s no limit to the feel-good aspect of green retailing! “There are so many things you can do to promote the natural/organic lifestyle,” says Fernandez. “Offer a small discount to clients who tote their own shopping bags, keep a nice-looking receptacle for dropping off empty containers, track revenue from recycling and donating to a local community-based organization, etc.,” she suggests. “The beauty of natural/organic is that it touches every aspect of our lives. Reinforcing this message throughout the spa is one way of giving your location a personality, as well as educating and ideally inspiring your clients to do more. And let’s face it: We can’t do too much when it comes to being kind, living healthfully and being green.”

Liz Barrett is an Oxford, Mississippi-based freelance writer and editor.