Splurge or Scrimp?

By Katie Middleweek, European Cosmetic Markets Tel: (44) 020 7193 6862 | September 28, 2012

The spa market in the Big 5 reported mixed fortunes in the past 12 months. While it is always difficult in this sector to gauge figures due to many data companies not tracking spa in the same way as they would other personal care categories, product innovation and launch pace have been of a high enough standard to encourage one to think that the future is still very much spa-led. But it could be said that consumers today are finding it increasingly hard to justify both the time and money that go into regular spa attendance.

Spa Surge
According to industry insiders, three quarters of French spas reported a turnover increase in the past year and this was as a result of good attendance in French hotels, where many luxury spas are situated. There is growth to be seen, though it has to be said it is less pronounced than in previous years.

Home spa treatments continue to be popular in France and this has been borne out by some key launches such as a home treatment product from Cinq Mondes that promises deep exfoliation with a three minute peeling mask that contains glycolic acid and complex natural AHA fruit acids including organic grapefruit, lemon and orange. Gel Masque Phyto-Peeling 3 min is said to optimize cellular renewal and smooth skin texture while leaving it looking radiant. The subtle hesperides, ylang ylang and vetiver fragrance, which was created by Firmenich perfumer Jean-Pierre Béthouart, is also designed to benefit both body and mind.

Fewer Europeans, it seems, are choosing the spa experience. Instead, they’re opting for at-home treatments.

French company Gatineau has developed a new exfoliant that is designed to boost radiance and lighten the complexion. Gommage Fondant Fraîcheur is a refreshing and gentle scrub that is designed to provide optimal exfoliation without irritating the skin and helps to prevent dehydration by retaining water in the skin.

With recent research finding that approximately 50% of European women have oily skin and visible pores, Decléor has decided to reformulate its Aroma Pureté range in order to answer this skin type. There are five new products designed to treat, mattify and rebalance skin, including Aromessence Ylang Ylang Serum, Aroma Pureté Shine Control Oxygenating Fluid, a 2-in-1 Oxygenating Mask, and a Ylang Ylang Purifying Night Balm. To complement the new range, Decléor has developed a new Matte and Pure Treatment, designed to eliminate sebum and reinvigorate the natural oxygenation of the skin, leaving skin looking matte and clean.

Green Theme
Although no data company in Germany tracks the spa market, there is still some confusion between what is viewed as traditional spa going and overall wellness, which is the word the Germans often use instead of spa. Lutz Hertel who is the president of industry trade body DWV, or Deutsche Wellness Verband, comments on this: “The words wellness and spa still have no real connection with each other in Germany meaning that actual spas tend to focus on the physical/beautifying aspects of a treatment while most consumers associate wellness with general health and well-being—as well as the standard of one’s general quality of life.’’

Therefore, the words “wellness” and “spa” in Germany can become easily confused and interchangeable, leaving consumers slightly nonplussed about the category. Despite the confusion, a recent article by a spa magazine in Germany stated the following facts, which would seem to prove the category’s popularity. According to research for ISPA, Germans visit a spa five times a year and day spas are the most popular spa type. Day spa numbers have increased in Germany during the past 12 months so this would appear to hold true. Other facts from the research are that 70% of Germans visit spas for a massage treatment. Those who prefer facial treatments will often visit a “salon” and that is another place altogether just to confuse things. In terms of spa trends in the past year, the green spa trend continued apace. German consumers lap up anything green and eco-related, and spa going has been no different, with green product ranges hitting shelves and the eco credentials of spas such as energy saving devices and water renewable facilities being called into question before consumers decide where to spend their euros.

Expansion Excitement
Again in Italy specific figures are not available, as there is no industry body tracking the spa sector at present, but insiders say it is a safe assumption that there has been a return to form in the past year. Italians often make the most of the geography of the country and holiday in and around the natural spa/bathing areas and there have been many new products for consumers to feast their eyes on.

One spa line, called Comfort Zone, is found in top Italian spas and distributed in more than 40 countries worldwide. It is recording good growth in Italy right now and also happily in international markets too. Comfort Zone is the cosmetics division of Davines s.p.a.—an Italian firm founded in 1982 by the Bollati family, which has become a leader in research, production and the marketing of product lines for aesthetics and professional tricologists. The company respects the environment with a strategy of sustainable development, which entails a constant commitment from all creative and production departments in their choice of reliable suppliers, certified raw materials, recyclable packaging and quality and multi-functional accessories and furnishings.

The brand has just opened two centers of excellence in London and Glasgow. As it expands its local and international presence, Comfort Zone is increasing its product range as well. The Hydramemory range has a new look and improved formulations. The new products contain extracts from the African baobab tree, renowned for its ability to retain large amounts of water. The range includes the Hydramemory Extra Cream 24h, cream gel, fluid, serum and a mask.

Hard Times Take Their Toll
Newspapers and television news programs are rife with reports of Spain’s financial woes. The Spanish spa market has not escaped this hardship. According to research firm DBK, Spanish spa sales fell 2% last year to approximately $325 million. Despite the gloomy economic situation, consumers are clearly still keen to spend their money on health and well-being, and there have been a number of new product launches from both brands and spas alike that seek to cash in on this trend. The word “spa” or “balneario” seems to be a marketable quality in a wide range of cosmetics products. Nu Skin, for example, has launched its ageLOC Galvanic Body Spa system, a machine that is designed to “offer those looking for more youthful skin the opportunity to experience a spa treatment in the comfort of their own home.” When used with the firm’s ageLOC Body Shaping Gel and ageLOC Dermatic Effects, the machine is said to reduce the appearance of fat and cellulite for a slimmer, more toned appearance. It works by delivering up to 10 times more ingredients to the skin than applying by hand.
Meanwhile, Laboratoires Dermatologique d’Uriage, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, has also introduced a couple of products to the Spanish market. Kératosane 30 is a gel cream that is designed to eliminate rough skin. It contains Uriage thermal spa water and 30% urea and is particularly good for areas of the body, such as elbows, knees and the scalp where the skin can be extremely dry. The formulation means that it also penetrates instantly into the skin. The second Uriage product was released to celebrate the 20 years the company has been in business and is a limited edition of the Spray de Agua Termal that has been given a more colorful design.

Uriage is perhaps one of the best examples of spa water being the base for cosmetics business and it seems other firms are looking to get a piece of the action. One of the world’s best-known mineral water companies, Evian, introduced a facial spray to Spain in 2011. Made by Sarbec Cosmetics, the Spray Brumisateur is available in three formats: 50-, 150- and 300ml, and is said to contain water of exceptional purity that is subjected to more than 300 microbiological controls on a daily basis. As well as refreshing hydrating the skin, the spray can also be used to set makeup.

Dip in Fortunes
The UK spa products market, which is tracked by Kantar Worldpanel and refers to all products where spa appears in the name, has had a less than lucrative year; the sector fell to about $109 million which was a decline of 1.6%. Industry insiders have put this down to an increasingly time-poor lifestyle in the UK where treating oneself to a spa treatment has become a luxury rather than a necessity. Having said that, there has been some key innovation on the spa products front.

Premium Scottish spa brand Pure Lochside launched Pure Eye Serum, exclusively in Urban Retreat at Harrods. Containing retinol palmitate, vitamin E, pumpkin seed, organic frankincense, chamomile and rosehip, it targets dehydration around the eye area. To celebrate the launch, Pure Lochside hosted an exclusive pop up spa festival at Urban Treat at Harrods at which a selection of Pure Lochside signature spa treatments were available.

Meanwhile, Clarisonic (Pacific Bioscience) launched a new targeted device and serum for eyes, the Opal Sonic Infusion, which is sold through spas and health resorts. The palm-sized sonic infusion device aims to build up the resilience of the skin around the eye over time and prevent it from being damaged in the long term. The Opal taps the skin at 125 sonic movements per second, dispensing the specially formulated Anti-Aging Sea Serum, which comes with the device.

The Big 5 spa market has had its share of ups and downs in the past 12 months, but overall launch innovation has been high—proving that consumer interest must still be out there. If more companies actually tracked this market it would give us scope for comparison year on year, but until then there is little real evidence to go on. However, anecdotal insider comment would suggest that spa-going is still a popular pastime in Europe, albeit one that consumers are having to fight hard to make time for, and justify the money on. Whether this changes in the future remains to be seen.

European Cosmetic Markets is published monthly by HPCi Media Limited. It provides in-depth data and analysis of the European cosmetics and toiletries market. For subscription details contact HPCi Media Limited.