Spa Retail Trends

Retail-focused, spa-flavored operations (i.e. CVS Pharmacies' new Beauty 360, et al) are on the rise. The spa channel needs to get much more creative to win back its share of consumer beauty spending. Part of the challenge is structural. Visit most any spa and see if it feels like a place a passer by or browser can go shopping. Spa design has focused more on grand architectural "entry statements" than engaging customers with shopping and buying cues and good retail design—which can be grand in itself. (Want ideas? Attend the GlobalShopexpo in Las Vegas this March.)

Expecting all our retail to come as the result of services is an outmoded idea. Retail must be more experiential, going beyond the tired boutique approach. We must embrace the idea that some of our clients are going to be retail, rather than service, clients, and if we didn't insist on making service the price of entry, we'd have many more customers who just want to shop with us. Some Successful Survivors have this "retail first" attitude, not making it the cherry on top of their revenue, but making it the tail that wags their spa dog.

Those big retailers sniffing around the spa world aren't stupid...they know that there are higher sales per square foot in a retail store than a spa. A token spa presence (sometimes one treatment room) is enough to give them the spa cachet and win that customer. Spa purists may cringe, but Successful Survivors shrug it off as industry evolution. They "follow the money."

Exclusive and unique products are vital to customer loyalty. Successful survivors use private branding in their retail mix, though it is not always obvious as such. Fewer and fewer sophisticated operations just slap the spa name on a private label product—they're actually creating brands.

By Peggy Wynne Borgman, CEO, Wynne Business, Preston Wynne Spa  www www