On Trends: Success Means Making Your Spa "Braggable"

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Recent economic challenges in the U.S. and Europe have given rise to new social trends that are now offering unique opportunities for spa industry professionals.

Social trends are the grand forces that motivate people to purchase products and services as well as make all kinds of lifestyle decisions. Unlike fads, which can be shallow and temporary, trends often point to relatively permanent shifts in behavior that can be successfully harnessed to win customers and increase sales.

Since the 2008 economic downturn, we are seeing people reassessing their personal values on an unprecedented scale. They are asking themselves, consciously or otherwise, what is really important in life? And, as it turns out, what is really important to most people are things like self-improvement, personal growth, and physical and mental health—meaningful experiences that are unrelated to whether your bank balance goes up or down.

As a result, many companies are changing the way they market their products and services. The automaker Mercedes-Benz is a good example. For decades, they advertised their products as luxuries to flaunt and for which to aspire. Since the economic downturn, however, the company's marketing department made the strategic decision not to focus exclusively on luxurious features, as they always have, but to also promote the safety records of their cars. What Mercedes understands is that their customers are still willing to spend lots of money on a car, but they need different reasons to do so. The same consumers who don't feel quite right about paying a lot for ostentatious pampering are willing to spend the same amount on protecting and enhancing their health and that of their families.

The lesson for spas is this: Many customers who are no longer as motivated to spend money for the sole purpose of hedonistic luxury are happy to spend the same money—on the same services—if it promises physical, spiritual, or mental wellbeing.

Our research shows that spas will likely profit from this trend by selling meaningful benefits alongside the luxury that is already integral to their products and services. A good way to do this is to focus not on what customers get when they are in the spa, but on what they will keep with them the rest of the week: namely, better physical and mental health and a greater sense of their own wellbeing. This can easily be done in your promotions by using words and imagery that show that you understand these needs. Rather than spotlighting the features of your spa, of which you are undoubtedly proud, focus on the benefits that customers will receive from taking advantage of your services.

Other motivators that are also part of this trend include making soulful connections with other people, being socially responsible, and life-long learning. We are seeing businesses across the industrial spectrum answering these trends by offering customers ways to connect with friends and family, help communities and the environment, and gain knowledge about what they are consuming. The spa industry can take advantage of these trends in the same ways.

In trends marketing, we often talk about "braggability" because the most successful products and experiences are those that your customers want to share with others. Many studies have shown that, after people obtain all the physical objects they need, their focus turns to personal growth. Help your customers towards this goal, and you will be giving them reasons to brag about you.