"SELF-PRESCRIBED" HOME SPA PRODUCTS POSE INDUSTRY CHALLENGES

Share this
Following Spa Finder's Home Sweet Spa Trend, products such as lip plumpers, cellulite-reducing lotions and at-home microdermabrasion kits are growing in popularity. The trend poses challenges for the spa industry. In addition to the increased competition of these mass market products sold in non-spa venues like department stores and mid-market retailers, many consumers self-prescribe products that are becoming increasingly active and results-oriented.

'Rather than relying on professional recommendations--consumers are taking matters into their own hands,' warns SpaTrade's product expert Sara Whisler. 'In many cases, they choose the wrong product or use the product in the wrong way, and end up damaging the skin rather than making things better. That is one of the reasons we are seeing so many cases of sensitive and over-processed skin.'

Department stores and even mid-market retail outlets are successfully marketing these types of products. Carol Hively, corporate spokesperson for Walgreens, said at-home alternatives to spa and medical treatments have sold very well since Walgreens started carrying the products over two years ago. 'We're very pleased with how these products have been selling,' she said. 'It's part of a trend we've seen. Over the past few years, people have realized drug stores like Walgreens carry products that are equal in quality and are low-cost alternatives to medical and spa products.'

There is more to the trend than simply leveraging physicians' credibility, said Meg Walsh, managing director of Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve, a marketing firm in New York. It is part of a major shift toward giving consumers the power to diagnose and treat themselves for a variety of afflictions by mass-marketing over-the-counter treatments, some of which were formerly only available by prescription.

Physician-formulated products like N.V. Perricone and Dr. Brandt are flying off department store shelves. N.V. Perricone Cosmeceuticals' sales more than doubled last year to $42.4 million, up from $11.9 million in 2001, according to the company. This year, Dr. Perricone projects sales will top $52 million, fueled by surging demand for new products, including a new anti-aging cream ($570 for 2 ounces)

Doctor-branded lines of 'cosmeceuticals,' as they have been come to be known in the industry, are rapidly moving from spas and physicians' offices into retail markets, and have become the fastest-growing segment of the $2.1 billion cosmetics market at prestige department stores, according to market research firm NPD Group. Now they are heading for even greater growth by infiltrating mid-level department stores and chain drugstores.

Other popular lines are Estee Lauder's Rodan + Fields, a line endorsed by Dr. Judith Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields--who introduced the acne line Proactiv Solution through infomercials in the mid-1990s. Proacive has the 'double-whammy' effect of being physician-endorsed and also celebrity-endorsed by stars Jessica Simpson and Vanessa Williams.

Effects by Dr. Jeffrey Dover is a skin care line sold exclusively at CVS. Dover is an author, frequent guest on television talk shows, and a part-time faculty member at the Yale University and Dartmouth College medical schools. He is only one off a number of high-profile dermatologists who are profiting from selling over-the-counter skin treatments.