“Beauty institutes have traditionally been viewed as places to go for skin care treatment and advice from professional aestheticians. Typically, you had to visit an upscale spa if you wanted pamper yourself with a facial or a relaxing massage in a luxury environment. But this is starting to change in the European market, and a crossover is occurring between the two channels in the types of services being offered,” observed Carrie Mellage, Kline’s industry manager for the consumer products practice.
Kline’s study, Professional Skin Care 2006, Volume II: Europe, indicates that European sales of professional skin care products––sold primarily through beauty institutes, spas, salons, pharmacies or dermatologist and plastic surgery clinics––grew by more than 9% last year, reaching more than $2 billion at the manufacturer level. Beauty institutes remain the largest sales channel for these products, but spas have posted the highest growth in sales, at nearly 14% from 2005 to 2006, driven largely by growth in the number of locations.
This boom in the spa market has prompted a number of beauty institutes to leverage the spa appeal by adding spa-oriented services such as body treatments and massages to their roster of offerings.
“The shift toward more of a spa format isn’t so much about the services being offered but more about the atmosphere and attitude. And there’s a general consensus among professional skin care marketers that there needs to be a convergence of spas and beauty institutes if either channel is going to be successful in meeting consumer demands in the long term,” said Ms. Mellage.
This trend has given rise to the “urban spa,” which is closer to the American concept of day spas, as opposed to the original European destination spa, where one would make an extended visit to have treatments that are derived from mineral water, thermal baths, heated mud or seawater.
“The growing popularity of urban spas also reflects social and economic trends,” says Susan Babinsky, senior vice president and head of Kline’s Consumer Products consulting practice. “There are promising opportunities in the European market right now, driven not only by this crossover between the channels, but also by increases in disposable income. The professional skin care market in countries such as Russia and Poland is enjoying growth of around 16%. These two factors are opening a lot of doors for marketers that can tweak their brands’ positioning to appeal to a broader audience.”