The Day Spa Association has released its report on a groundbreaking industry study of day spa user behavior and demographics. The study was conducted in late 2001 by Beta Research, which counts among its clients the Wall Street Journal, Condé Nast and the National Football League.

The $7.3 billion day spa market has been growing dramatically, but until now virtually no reliable data had been collected about spa-goers' past, current and future behavior. The Day Spa Association, an organization of some 600 businesses and spa professionals founded in 1994, recognized that the industry needed access to current demographic and psychographic data about day spa usage.

The pool of 1163 respondents was the result of a random sampling of 5,000 households with income of $25,000 or more. The survey revealed some surprising facts: while women outnumbered men as day spa guests, men who visited spas did so more frequently than their female counterparts. This may confirm what many companies have suspected about the strong potential of the male market.

While home care products comprise, on average, only 10% of spa revenues currently, many high-performing spas boast retail sales above 25%, suggesting that retail is an area of enormous leverage for the growing industry.

The average age of the spa-goer was prime 'Boomer': 45 year olds, the majority married with families. Many were encouraged to visit the spa by gift certificates. 'This clearly shows that spas planning for future growth will need to begin 'seeding' younger markets', says Hannelore Leavy, founder of the DSA. 'And there are strong indicators of burgeoning interest and activity in younger spa goers.'

Not surprisingly, the survey showed that the top spa treatment was massage therapy, with facial treatments in second place. Day spas planning their service menus will find the rest of the service rankings invaluable.

The survey also provided the first data on day spa guest spending habits. 'Any entrepreneur or business owner developing their financial plan will find much-needed data here, the sort of thing that investors and bankers have been demanding,' explains Leavy. 'I'm thrilled that we are able to provide this level of research to the industry, at last.'

The report can be purchased on SpaTrade.