The Spa Market

November 7, 2005

As more people visit the spas, which are quickly popping up across the country, they are seeking products for homeuse that provide the benefits and luxury of the spa without the time and expense.

The Spa Market

As more people visit the spas, which are quickly popping up across the country, they are seeking products for homeuse that provide the benefits and luxury of the spa without the time and expense.

By Karen Bitz

The average American is older and has more money today than ever before. These two traits taken together have helped boost the spa industry and made people more aware of the benefits of professional skin treatments. Whereas once only ladies of luxury spent their days being pampered at day spas such as Elizabeth Arden’s famous Red Door Salon, today men and women from all social strata are visiting spas for a break from the stress that plagues life at the end of the 20th century.

“People are taking more time to relax and bring their minds and bodies together,” said Lynne Walker, executive director of the International Spa Association (ISPA). “People are working hard, they are aging and they feel they deserve some time for themselves.”

As more people visit these spas, which are quickly popping up across the country, they are seeking products for home use that provide the benefits and luxury they find on a trip to the spa without the time and expense associated with these visits. “The concept of indulging in intensive treatment products, traditionally found solely in salons or spas, in the comfort of the home is one that has captured the imagination of a wide audience,” explained Carla Gervasio, vice president, merchandise development, The Body Shop. “People want products that enable them to turn their own bathrooms into a spa once a week.”

The two main components of spa rituals, aromatherapy and body products, registered sales of $41 million for the first half of 1999, according to NPD BeautyTrends, of Port Washington, NY. Furthermore the French conglomerate LVMH’s recent acquisition of trendy New York spa, Bliss, for a reported $30 million, and even fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger plans to capitalize on this trend by opening of his first spa in Beverly Hills next year. Both attest to the strength of this growing segment.

Salt and oxygen scrubs, mud packs, cellulite creams and vitamin C serums are just some of the home spa products making their way into medicine cabinets as more women seek the benefits of a spa without the expense. Most of the major players in the cosmetics industry, including Estée Lauder, Clarins, Avon and Helena Rubinstein, are capitalizing on the spa rage by offering products ripe with natural ingredients that cleanse and hydrate the skin. Meanwhile, more upstart brands are entering the arena with upscale products found only in the spa or in exclusive boutiques such as Barneys and Sephora.

Straight from the Spa

From the Las Vegas strip to the malls of suburbia, spas are popping up everywhere. While some of these spas craft their own exclusive products, many look to the experts, such as BioElements, Jan Marini and Flowergenics, to provide products for their customers. Licensed estheticians use these products in spa treatments but the customers are encouraged to buy a “goody bag” of products for continued treatment at home. “Spas generally focus on treatment—not on home care—and just try to get the customer to relax,” said Jan Marini, founder of Jan Marini Skin Research. “But the reason why treatment at home is important is similar to why you brush and floss in between visits to the dentist. You need to keep up the work that is being done by the professional on your own.”

Based in San Jose, California, Jan Marini Skin Research is credited with being the first company to use glycolic acid in skin care and the first to market stable topical vitamin C technology to physicians and skin care professionals.

The decision among these high-end companies to remain spa exclusive comes from a dedication to spa culture, the belief that spa treatment should combine effective products with a feeling of luxury and pampering. For these experts caring for skin should be as intense as the care for any other bodily organ. “For me getting a facial once in a while is a must have,” said Gay Prizzio, spokeswoman for Cellex-C, a Chicago-based skin care company. “There is nothing like the benefits of a good exfoliation.” The Cellex-C skin care line is built around vitamin C and its products are said to contain enough vitamin C to produce noticeable results both at the spa and in the home. Most recently, the company added an advanced-C serum and a neck firming cream to its line. “These spa products work faster because the vitamin C is at a more concentrated level,” Ms. Prizzio explained. “Women who are buying our products are going to the spa and they are savvy about their skin. They want to see results.”

Bioelements has brought the luxury of a salt bath to the bathroom with its Mineral Glow spa body polish, which contains Dead Sea salts to exfoliate and smooth rough, scaly skin and relieve dryness, and Monsoon natural body freshener, a blend of sea water, plant extracts, minerals and pure essential oils to hydrate the skin. “These products smell great and they are truly wonderful for skin,” said Barbara Salamone, president Bioelements, Colorado Springs, CO. “Using them provides an instant gratification as well as therapeutic benefits.”

Specialty Spa

Perhaps there is no better place to shop for effective, luxurious skin care products than in a high-end specialty store. At least this is the theory several of the high end skin care companies happi spoke to seem to have as they offer their products exclusively in upper crust boutiques such as Sephora, Barneys and Henri Bendel. These marketers keep their products in these trendier settings to distinguish them from the run-of-the-mill products often inappropriately billed as spa treatments. “We want these products to be considered an affordable luxury—a way to escape from the world,” said Alix Peterson worldwide director of marketing, Samuel Par. “To achieve this people have to view them as exclusive.”

Samuel Par, a French aromatherapy brand, has two lines, a professional and a home range, which complement each other. Based on providing aromatherapeutic benefits, Samuel Par products are designed to enhance mood and ease tension while treating skin, according to Ms. Peterson. Most recently the company released an active slimming gel and a moisturizing firming milk to combat cellulite. “Cellulite is really a challenge to this industry,” Ms. Peterson said. “Unfortunately it all has to do with the way a woman’s body is made.” Still, although interest in cellulite reduction and other body care techniques has grown recently, the face remains the mainstay of the industry, according to Ms. Peterson. “The face is more important because it is seen the most and women are concerned about it aging,” she said. “The body is really more of a luxury.”

Renature Skin Care, New York, NY markets a line of emerginC skin care products. All the products in the anti-aging line incorporate Coenzyme Q10, a natural agent thought to decline in human cells with age. Replenishing CoQ10 to skin is increasingly becoming a popular anti-aging regimen. “What some don’t understand is there are no overnight miracles in skin care but we really think this is the next piece of the puzzle,” said Renature president Ian Lirenman. The emerginC line contains a face and neck cream as well as an eye cream. A CoQ10 mask is available only in salons. Mr. Lirenman said these products are vital to the consumer’s well being. “Spa treatments are not just about vanity. They are about your health,” he said. “Stress is one of the biggest killers so what you want to do is revitalize your body and your skin to help your entire self.”

A new beauty secret is circulating among the rich and famous—oxygen and one skin care expert has brought this secret mainstream with the launch of his jO2 range of products. Manzoor H. Jaffrey, a pharmacist/chemist from Stamford, CT has been formulating products for the spa industry for three decades. He recently created the five-product line of oxygen enriched products. They combine the reconditioning properties of oxygen and glycolic acid, which complement and intensify each other’s benefits. When it is applied, oxygen performs much like the way it does when inhaled, according to the company. Topically, oxygen penetrates deep into the layers of the skin and purges out all the impurities that cause acne, blackheads, whiteheads, wrinkles and crow’s feet, according to the company. The collection complements virtually any skin type by alternating between oxgenating treatments and antioxidation treatments. “jO2’s finetuned formulations contain incredibly potent ingredients that not only diminish the signs of aging but actually detoxify, soothe and nourish skin,” Mr. Manzoor said. The product line includes an oxygen cream, a vitamin C serum, firming eye Cream, firming lotion with grapeseed extract and oxygen facial cream wash.

Getting in the Game

The spa segment isn’t the sole domain of entrepreneurs. With more people visiting day spas than ever before, some of the major players in the prestige skin care segment are creating their own spa divisions to attract new customers and showcase their products. These companies use their own prestige skin treatment products which are also available at their retail counters, in the spas and sell them there as well.

Estée Lauder created a spa division in 1988 after the company executives noticed consumers were becoming more interested in spa treatment. Since then, Lauder’s 10 North American spas have served several purposes. For one, the spa has become a spot where new products can be tried and tested by consumers in a real world environment; for another, the spa attracts a second base of consumers to Lauder’s range of products. “Upon implementation of a brand new product, we will immediately find a home for it in service or we will enhance or design a service around it exclusively,” said Cherie Flannigan, executive director, spa retail marketing. “It really gives Estée Lauder the chance to demonstrate its products differently, in a more personal environment.”
For instance, the spa’s Re-Nutriv Intensive Lifting Facial features an emergency lift with Lauder’s Re-Nutriv Intensive Lifting Series serum coupled with a 20-minute face, neck, shoulder and scalp massage. After being pampered, the spagoer receives a 14-day Re-Nutriv treatment for follow up treatments at home.

Unlike Estée Lauder, Elizabeth Arden’s over-the-counter business was born out of its salon treatment. Founder Elizabeth Arden opened her salon in 1910 and began formulating skin care products for use in the salon. These products eventually became known as the Elizabeth Arden collection, now owned by Unilever NV, but the salon concept remains strong. Based in Phoenix, AZ, Elizabeth Arden Salon is a privately held company that acts separately from Elizabeth Arden. Still, the two companies have a strong relationship and trade information regularly, according to Kelly Weber, senior vice president marketing Elizabeth Arden Salon. “A lot of the products are synergistic in effect,” Ms. Weber said. “The company will develop a product and give it to us to try out. It gives them a reality check because our clients are pretty sophisticated when it comes to skin care.”

Currently six Elizabeth Arden Red Door salons operate in the U.S. but the company expects to add approximately 50 locations by 2002. “This rage has really crossed gender and income levels,” Ms. Weber said. “Because we are really the most recognized spa name in the U.S., we see this as a major time of growth and opportunity for us.”

Among the services offered at the Red Door Salon is a Millennium moisture renewal facial featuring Elizabeth Arden’s new state-of-the art product, Millennium Energist Revitalizing Emulsion, and Micro Dermabrasion featuring the Dermaglow particle skin exfoliation system to polish the skin.

With institutes around the world, Clarins has its finger on the pulse of what the skin care savvy consumer wants. The Paris-based company keeps up to date on trends with its Skin Care Center. This center is comprised of 120 professional facialists, dubbed Instructrice de Beauteaut by the company, who visit Clarins counters around the country to perform complementary facials. “The success of the center is really great,” said Carol Schuler, vice president communications and creative services. “The demand has grown because spas have become so popular. People are happy to receive these complementary facials.” The center has existed for 12 years.

At the crux of Clarins’ product offering is a range of six oils for the face and body. These completely natural products have been around since Clarins began in 1954 and have remained a mainstay of the company’s offerings. In recent years, these poducts have seen somewhat of a revival as oils have come back in vogue. “There is a whole new movement happening today with oils,” Ms. Schuler remarked. “It’s funny. Ours have been around 45 years and are now enjoying a whole new popularity.”

Another well established brand, 96-year-old Helena Rubinstein is also enjoying a renaissance. The company punctuated its reentry into the U.S. this spring with the opening of a store-and-salon in lower Manhattan. With this spa, parent company L’Oréal’s first retail effort, Rubinstein is defying the spa culture tenet of luxury with treatments for women on the go such as a 30-minute body soufflé, a 30-minute facial and a 20-minute manicure.

Out of Africa

The Body Shop has long been known for personal care products crafted from exotic natural ingredients. The UK-based specialty retailer has continued this tradition with its recent entry into the spa treatment market. Africa Spa is a six-product line with ingredients selected during company founder Anita Roddick’s many trips to the continent. “Africa has a lot to do with the origins of mankind and civilization,” said brand manger Kim Ferguson. “We think that makes it a very raw, fun and natural line containing all the essences of Africa.”

The Body Shop’s entry into the spa treatment was born out of a demand for the at-home spa treatment products, which are less expensive and less time consuming than a trip to the day spa, according to Ms. Ferguson. “The spa category has really seen a boost from the restructuring of health care in the U.S.” she said. “HMOs require people to be more proactive about preventive health, which is what the spa ritual provides.” In addition to the growing popularity of spas, the entry was boosted by the company’s restructuring plan, which began last year. As part of the plan, the company has promised to step up its new product introductions, according to Ms. Gervasio. “We restructured last year and moved the U.S. business from Wake Forest, NC to San Francisco,” she explained. “This included the formation of a whole new team of product developers and they are a very agile entrepreneurial group.”

The Africa Spa line, launched in the U.S. last month, includes a hair and body mask, a body scrub, bath oil, bath salts, body balm and a hand and foot treatment, all providing benefits of both wellness and luxury, according to Ms. Gervasio. “It’s all based on the wellness trend that’s been going on during the past three to five years,” she noted. “Africa has a rich tradition of bathing rituals, pampering and self care. So choosing Africa gave us the opportunity to bring that tradition to our customers.”

The line is targeted at women aged 20-35 who have a certain level of disposable income and are attracted to high quality products. The products are packaged in kilner jars with rubber seals to give the range in-store impact and distinguish it from the company’s other body care products. These jars, which are reusable, are traditionally used for food and this evokes the idea of the products feeding or treating the skin, according to The Body Shop literature. The packages’ earthy brown labels with ivory and charcoal gray designs convey the sensual feel of the African culture.

Creating the Africa Spa line also allowed The Body Shop to boost its Community Trade Project, a special purchasing program that supports long standing trade relationships with needy communities located mainly in the third world. The Body Shop purchases ingredients from these communities to benefit them socially and economically. Among the community trade ingredients included in the African Spa collection are honey and beeswax supplied by North Western Bee Products in Zambia; cocoa beans supplied by Juapa Kokoo Ltd. In Ghana; shea butter from the Tungteiya Shea Butter Association in Ghana and sesame oil from the Juan Francisco Paz Silva Cooperative in Nicaragua.

Retail prices range from $10 to $22. That is slightly higher than the company’s existing skin care products but these spa products are intended for once-a-week use. “This is about skin care that goes the extra mile and offers a little indulgence,” Ms. Ferguson admitted. “We are finding that people are working longer hours and don’t have quality time for themselves every day. This line is about struggling to find a few hours once in a while to really give yourself a treat.”

No End in Sight
According to studies conducted by many of the companies happi spoke to, the spa rage is not ending anytime soon. “It’s a growth category,” remarked Elizabeth Arden’s Ms. Weber. “All the demographic and psychographic research we’ve done shows it’s just going to continue.” What is changing, however, is the type of treatments people crave. Where once high-tech creams and treatments formed the backbone of the spa ritual, more and more spas are relying on natural ingredients and a more organic approach to healthy skin. This will yield an influx of botanical treatments such as Helena Rubinstein’s sedona mud wrap and Elizabeth Arden’s Apothecary Herbal mask treatment, insist industry experts.

According to Ms. Walker, ISPA’s membership has doubled in the past 12-18 months and continues to grow. As more spas open their doors offering more treatments than ever before, there is no doubt more women and men will be drawn to the salon for a day of pampering and skin conditioning. “There is no reason why anyone in the 21st century should have a complexion that’s anything less than radiant and gorgeous,” Mr Jaffrey predicted. “We have the technology that makes it possible and it doesn’t require too much time or money.”

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