For (Young) Adults Only

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Why the “Next-ers” Matter

Whoever first said that the only two inevitable things are “death and taxes” forgot “change.” As loyal as your current clients may be, and as steady as your business may seem, change is always having an effect. Age, relocation and just the human need for something new means you won’t have that client base indefinitely. Certainly the 20-somethings are not the only group who can step in to replace lost clientele—but they may be the most promising one.

“Young people are the future of your spa,” says Nancy Trent, president of marketing and public relations firm Trent & Co., which specializes in spas and healthy lifestyles. “If you teach them about the benefits of spas, they will be great consumers for years to come.”

Easier said than done. Just as you shouldn’t use a hamburger to lure a mouse, you shouldn’t try to attract a young client with a dated point of view. The first step in breaking through to young adults lies in understanding them, and that means busting a couple of well-worn myths:

Myth #1: Young people don’t know anything about skin care. The youth of the 1990s (now Generation Xers in their 40s) may never have heard of a facial, but today’s young people have the resources, via the Internet, to learn about everything—from the best product to tame acne to the benefits of regular massage. The spa concept is not foreign to them. “Today’s 20-something clientele grew up when spas started to become a lifestyle choice,” reminds Rianna Riego, principal of spa consulting firm Global SpaVantage. “In fact, many of them are already spa-goers and consider it part of their routine.” 

Best strategy: Don’t assume that young guests are clueless; give them the benefit of the doubt that they know what they’re asking for. But, make it your business to further their education and sell them on the results of regular spa treatments.

“These young people have been provided with an infinite amount of information on how to take care of themselves,” says Scott Kerschbaumer, co-owner of ESSpa Kozmetika Organic Skincare, an award-winning facility in Pittsburgh. “So yes, we now have a younger generation that is much more mature in terms of thinking about personal care. But it’s still näive as to how and where to actually take action and do something about it.”

To that end, ESSpa treats young clients no differently from its older ones, with one exception: Therapists are instructed to spend extra time educating young clients about the treatments they receive and the products they can use to see results at home. It’s that personalized customer service that makes the difference, says Kerschbaumer, who considers young men and women the spa’s most important demographic. “Just today a new college graduate stopped me after his facial. He wanted me to know how much he loved our spa—not just the actual treatment but the entire environment,” he says. “In fact, he liked it so much that today’s facial was the third time he had been in for a treatment in the past three weeks. The potential that exists in introducing younger people to our version of the spa world is phenomenal.