Spa Finder Delivers Overview of Hottest Spa Trends at Face & Body Conference

Melisse Gelula of New York-based Spa Finder identified recent trends based on industry perspectives and her personal observations. Spa 'lifestyle' is gaining momentum, extending from a facility-based service to incorporate home design, holistic treatment, organic choices, etc.

Spa Lifestyle

Non-spa companies such as Whole Foods are following the lead set by cosmetic companies expanding their offerings to appeal to the spa crowd. Recent acquisitions and other corporate activities demonstrate this trend:
Estee Lauder 'sniffing' the Murad brand
Farmaesthetics launching the first organic skin care line approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Nivea operating spas in Germany and Dubai
Origins aligning with health guru Dr. Andrew Weil
Procter & Gamble buying DDF

Spa Services

Swedish deep tissue massage are the most requested services. Anti-aging treatments are also extremely popular. Spa clientele are educated and knowledgeable about the industry. Online and store retailers are competing with spas by selling cosmeceuticals and incorporating organic ingredients into skin care products.

Spas can counteract these offerings by emphasizing individualized services healing touch, personalization / customization, professional skin care expertise, etc. An interesting development is renewed interest in hydrotherapy. New spas are incorporating wet rooms and encouraging clients to come in early to enjoy hydrotherapy treatments or use the pool before their appointments for other services. In some instances, facility designs are changing to simulate the look and feel of European spas. Others are distinctively American, such as Mandalay (Las Vegas NV). As Ms. Gelula observed, 'Destination is becoming community.'

It is also important to balance luxury and discount. One solution may be to offer a mix of services that include low-cost options (such as a $12 manicure).

Spa Culture:

Indigenous ingredients and treatments continue the international theme in spas. Done well, clients will accept ancient practices that are performed by providers who incorporate such services while being sensitive to the originating culture. The issue is authenticity. As noted in the afternoon session on International Trends (below), 'indigenous' can be achieved using local resources.

Organics & Treatments:

There is simultaneous interest and growth of spa services in two distinct areas: Injectables and Organics. A major problem is the lack of definitions and standards for what constitutes 'organics'. For example, are preservatives acceptable in a product that is marketed as an organic?
The spa alternative to medical procedures such as injectables is skin-penetrating cosmetics. Anti-aging products are also being used on other parts of the body besides the face. A key factor is to deliver the results that consumers expect from a product or treatment. Many products are incorporating 'tried-and-true' standard ingredients, while others use novel formulations to grab consumers' attention (e.g., 'gold facials). Green chemistry is another hallmark of new products. When in doubt about effectiveness, Ms. Gelula recommends contacting a cosmetic chemist for answers.

Trend Barometer:

New treatments can be presented to select target audiences. Two populations that serve as good examples are 1) pregnant women and 2) moms and babies. On average, there are six million pregnant women in the United States. Hyperpigmentation and stretch marks are conditions that spa services could address.

More generally, everyone in the spa industry is looking for the next big thing to impact the market (e.g., stone massage). While there is no obvious candidate yet, some new options may eventually have a favorable impact: Hair treatments, insomnia massage, rituals, and vinotherapy. According to Ms. Gelula, spas have ignored hair to salons' advantage. For insomnia or weight loss programs, spas can coordinate their efforts with research organizations.

Some improvements upon existing treatment regimens are easily incorporated into the treatment menu. For example, every treatment or other session could end with application of sunscreen as a preventive measure. It also provides an opportunity to educate spa-goers about Sun Protection Factor (SPF) ratings, the types of ultraviolet light to be concerned about, newly approved sunscreens that protect against UVA, etc.