"Diva of Retail" Hit at ISPA Conference

J'Amy Owens, the "diva of retail" was a favorite keynote speaker at the ISPA Conference last month. As president of The Retail Group, whose client-list reads like a veritable who's who of mass-market success stories (think Gap, Starbucks), Owens drove home this message: "Consumer behavior is very hard to change. We must balance what people really do with global changes."

Owens encouraged spa managers to "know thy customer," giving an example of how spas fail at this task. "We know women are vain and insecure, yet spa locker rooms have florescent lights that make people look horrible. Bath them in great lighting. If they look good they have more motivation to buy."

She also doled out some expert advice from her years of helping companies improve retail sales and "change the clothes" of their businesses. "Sales will increase 5 to 10% by taking product out of the locked-glass cases," exclaims Owens. "Liberate it! Let people touch it, smell it, try it on."

Sharing insights from her company's market research, Owens insisted that "color, form, and style must be different in different market segments." She then discussed four chronologically segmented market niches comprising the entire American population:

Grumpy Grays
Born prior to 1945; pop. 59 million people; 21% of population, $1.4 trillion annual expenditures. This group views spas as too much of an indulgence. Don't think they deserve it. Need to convince them they deserve it and help them get over their guilt (Ex: Get doctor to "prescribe" spa treatments.)
Born between 1946 and 1964; 76 million people; 40% of population, $2.9 trillion annual expenditures. This group is desperate for luxury and time. They are romance and sex starved. This group will respond to a high level of personal service because "they "need intimacy in their lives in a big way."
Generation X
Born between 1965 and 1974; 46 million people; 18% of population; $125 billion annual expenditures. This group represents the "Happy Meal Kids." Spas should provide packages because Owens said this group "loves packaged deals, as long as they can bring their dogs and kids."
Generation Y
Born between 1977-1999; 70 million people; 25.9% of the population; $168 billion annual expenditures. This group loves music and movies, extreme sports, hip hop, jock rock, punks and "goths." They are coffee kids and cultural creatives. They are a spiritual group; 90% believe in God. Big business does not drive this culture, this culture drives big business. Providing new and challenging experiences for this group is crucial because "everything is so over-pasteurized, they crave danger, but "safe" danger.

Owens sited great ways to target these various and behaviorally-diverse market segments, and reminded the audience that "rich rhymes with niche".