Blurring Gender Lines
If you’ve noticed more men lounging in your spa’s relaxation room or browsing its retail shelves, then you can consider your spa to be right on trend, as according to the International Spa Association (ISPA) Foundation, men are visiting spas more than ever before. In fact, a recent Consumer Snapshot Initiative conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers revealed that men now represent almost half, or rather 47 percent, of the spa-going population. Who is the average male spa-goer, you may be wondering? Well, according to the study, he is between 25 and 44 years of age, earns more than $50,000, and is employed at a management level or higher. The study also found that the largest proportion of spa-going men is found in the southwest region of the U.S.
While men are becoming a common sight at most spas, you may be surprised to learn that many of the so-called driving factors that have long been touted to attract male spa-goers don’t necessarily increase the likelihood of them visiting any more than they would their female counterparts. “One of the biggest misconceptions I’ve encountered when looking at male spa-goers is that certain assumed features drive men to the spa,” says Michael Tompkins, CEO of Miraval Resort & Spa (Tucson, AZ) and ISPA chairman. “Whether a spa has an alcohol bar or even televisions in the locker room doesn’t necessarily make men more likely to visit. They aren’t driven by the stereotypical influencers.” Instead, men are compelled by some of the same motives as women who frequent spas. “The number one reason both men and women visit a spa worldwide is to learn how to manage their stress,” says ISPA president Lynne McNees. “Men and women may deal with stress in different ways, but surprisingly, they both find spas to be an outlet. As a global society, we are experiencing more stress than ever before and seeking alternative ways to cope. Visiting a spa gives people permission to pause.”
Not surprisingly, as men become more frequent spa-goers, they’re also becoming more adventurous in terms of what they’re willing to try. No longer afraid to venture outside of their comfort zones, men are eschewing traditional male-friendly treatments for more beauty-enhancing fare. “Overall, male spa-goers are stepping ‘into the box’ by stepping outside of it,” says Tompkins. “Men are much more likely now to try treatment choices beyond the norm. Thai massage, body treatments, fusion services, facials, and manicures and pedicures are now being chosen instead of the usual Swedish, deep-tissue, or stone massage.” To further illustrate the point, the study revealed that 50 percent of men are interested in experiencing or learning more about acupuncture and hydrotherapy. That’s not to say that men don’t still enjoy a good massage. As Michael Bruggeman, founder and CEO of Organic Male OM4, points out, it’s still their default. However, they are branching out like never before.
According to Tompkins, metrosexual men are even interested in cosmetics, a category long dominated by women. “With customized shaving products, skin soothing gels, specially formulated moisturizers, and eye creams, the word is out that men are interested in looking their best,” says Shawn Towne, global educator for Jane Iredale—The Skincare Makeup. “There is a misconception that men do not need or like makeup, but this is starting to change. The truth is that men want their complexions to look good as much as women do. They simply don’t want people to know they’re wearing makeup. Thus, a new generation of cosmetic products customized for men have come into the picture.” While guyliner or a visible blush may still be a hard sale to make, a matte mineral powder foundation that offers SPF protection can offer the ultimate skincare solution. Nevertheless, men still want products that are designed for them, and cosmetics and skincare companies are taking note. “We know that a lot of men were wearing our minerals, but our customers said that they wished the packaging wasn’t so feminine,” says Jane Iredale, founder and president of Jane Iredale—The Skincare Makeup. “So, we repackaged the items we knew they were buying in colors that were universal.” The company also did away with shade names and replaced them with numbers.
It should come as no surprise that male cosmetics and skincare treatments are on the rise when you consider the importance appearance has come to play in day-to-day life. “Men are now under pressure with the current economic climate to make the best first impressions on clients and interviewers, and grooming plays a huge role here,” says Anthony McDonough, founder of Liquid Skin Care. According to him, men are increasingly comparing themselves to other men. “The selfie trend makes men want to look their best 24/7,” says McDonough. “This attitudinal change has driven behavioral changes, and one of those is the increase in men using spas and gyms to improve their personal appearances.” Rhonda Allison, founder and CEO of Rhonda Allison, including RA For Men, agrees, noting that men don’t just want to look younger any longer, but they also want to look healthier. “In 2013, men accounted for 1.2 million cosmetic procedures, which included facelifts; soft-tissue fillers, such as Botox; sclerotherapy; chemical peels; and laser hair removal,” says Allison. “In a world of Google searches and smartphones, men’s awareness has been raised.”
Although more guys are opting for esthetics services, there is certainly room to grow. “Men are a completely untapped market,” says Bruggeman. “It requires a little blood, sweat, and tears, but the payback is exponential.” According to him, it’s important to use the right vocabulary and speak their language using words that appeal to them, such as attack, combat, and obliterate. Instead of the word facial, he recommends referring to them as face treatments. He also encourages taking a solution-oriented approach. “Most men are oblivious to everything except ingrown hairs and breakouts,” says
Bruggeman. “Estheticians must call out skin issues and have a direct plan of attack that can be communicated in five seconds or less. This is one small but powerful change in behavior that must be adopted to successfully sell products and services to men.”
Tompkins also finds discounts to be a strong factor in attracting male spa-goers. According to him, men also respond well to loyalty programs that encourage repeat visits. “Typically, men like three choices: good, better, and best,” says Tompkins. Bruggeman also advises that you build men into your long-term strategy by designating a men’s month and creating a men’s zone in your retail area. And don’t forget to reach out to your female clientele, as Allison points out, “Most women have men in their lives, be it husbands, brothers, sons, or fathers.”
Fortunately, attracting men to your spa is getting easier all the time. “We continue to see male spa-goers who understand the benefits of living the spa lifestyle and view spas as an avenue to relieve stress,” says Tompkins. “It’s less about aging into manhood and more about maintaining peak health and looks. The six-pack abs is a next-generation reality.”