Affordable Ambiance: The Spa Market

November 11, 2005

Relax. The spa market is bigger than ever, and there's an experience or at-home product for everyone.

Given their choice, most consumers would opt for a soothing, relaxing experience in the hands of a professional over an at-home lathering. But few U.S. consumers can afford daily, weekly or even monthly visits to the salon.

The compromise? Spa-type products that are available at retail. Personal care items that offer more than simple cleansing are all the rage, according to industry experts.

Since not every consumer visits day spas-in fact, many consumers "never" make appointments for massages or facials, according to marketing data-companies need to communicate the benefits of the spa experience to step up sales. Gradually, hair and nail salons are incorporating massages and facials to introduce these pampering concepts to consumers.

At the same time, day spas are selling the products they use in their treatments to take home.

Products that had their origins within a serene, controlled and, inarguably, often expensive environment are now available to consumers everywhere.

Marketers are encouraging this change with a basic understanding of how day spas work to create that coveted self-pampering experience, and finding less costly and more efficient ways for the consumer to reproduce that experience at home.

Bath Bloomers offers everything a consumer needs to relax at home, including bath and treatment products and tools. The brand is also available in hotels and day spas.

Inside the Salon
According to day spa owners-and many of their clients as well-nothing can beat the traditional in-the-salon experience. Industry experts say the best way to reach such customers is by offering products for sale at the spa counter following the treatments that they have just enjoyed.

The spa experience can range from a simple skin cleansing to treatments purported to cure a variety of ailments, both physical and emotional. Spa-goers might expect topical treatments such as muds and masques or more hands-on ways to de-stress and relax, including massage.

At TIBA (Institute of Traditional Oriental Medicine) de Nuhad Khoury, Nashville, TN, clients can battle common ailments with herbal medicine, acupuncture and massage.

TIBA was founded by Nuhad Khoury, a native of Damascus who first expanded her business from a perfumerie and boutique in 1984 to a day spa in 1994. The Nashville-based spa is staffed by experts including Dr. Xiao Mei Zhao, an accredited practitioner, researcher and teacher, and Deborah Rose Gadley Doyle, MD.

TIBA executives claim that depending upon the treatment, a number of ailments can be addressed by the spa including pain relief, skin problems, weight loss, allergies, asthma and bronchitis, gynecological disorders and even cancer and multiple sclerosis side effects and discomforts.

The Full Treatment

Of course, TIBA clients can also indulge in a good old-fashioned cleansing, facial peel or body wrap. An impressive variety of treatments are available, including anti-cellulite, hydrotherapy, massage therapy, waxing, LaStone (basalt and marble hot and cold stones) therapy, hair styling and makeup lessons.

Some spas prefer to keep their products in-house and away from retail shelves, as the treatment's application can, according to executives, be as critical as the product itself. Others cater directly to the salon professional, including Cuccio Naturale, Valencia, CA. The company offers a variety of intensive therapeutic treatments for both sexes and all age groups.

A recent addition to Cuccio Naturale is the Hand Muscle Rejuvenation treatment, which features a therapeutic paraffin wax service combined with grapeseed antioxidant oil, followed by a hand massage. According to company executives, the treatment eases muscle tenderness and reduces the appearance of wrinkles. At the same time, it serves a deeper purpose, helping to help soothe away pain in the hands and wrists that can result from long-term typewriter and computer use.

Care and Repair

MD Formulations, San Francisco, is serious about repair and protection too, and recently introduced Critical Care "first aid for the skin." Critical Care helps repair skin damaged by professional resurfacing procedures, according to company executives.

MD Formulations executives said that although microdermabrasion (a skin resurfacing service that helps reverse the signs of aging) can be successful, it can also have its down side, including a temporary weakening of the skin's protective barrier.

"When the protective barrier is weakened, the skin is more vulnerable to harmful irritants and environmental damage, like the sun," commented Christina Valentine, MD Formulations' East Coast sales educator. "That is why MD Formulations created Critical Care Skin Repair complex and Shielding crème-to help repair, defend and shield skin."

Company executives said in a six-week study of microdermabrasion treatments, patients were twice as satisfied with the addition of Critical Care compared to the microdermabrasion alone. Used together, Critical Care products were found to improve skin smoothness by 15%, improve moisture by 15% and reduce wrinkles by 16%.

MD executives said in-spa treatments are recommended for professional analysis and initial treatment, but that the company's products are created to allow consumers to take care of their skin at home too. "MD Formulations salon treatments are designed to accelerate the results achieved with the MD Formulations home care products," said Ms. Valentine. "It is imperative to take proper care of skin every day as a lifelong habit to see optimal results."

Other new products from the company include Vit-A-Plus Clearing Complex masque, for problem-prone skin and Vit-A-Plus Illuminating masque, to help even skin tone and improve skin discolorations.

The company plans to launch the Alpha/Beta Customized Peeling system in 2003.
"Consumers visit spas to restore health and relaxation," Ms. Valentine said. "The skin is the largest organ in the body, and MD Formulations promotes its healthy treatment."

In the Hands of the Client
Many salons and day spas are focusing on developing new products that can be taken home by their clients, allowing for an at-home spa experience.

According to a study by The Day Spa Association, nearly 49% of survey respondents said they did not go to day spas because they were "too costly." Though there are other considerations that keep individuals from the salon-including lack of available spas in the consumer's area and a lack of time to receive treatments-consumers' pocketbooks still seem to be making the final decision nearly half the time.

This hasn't slowed the popularity of salon-based treatments, however. According to detailed statistics compiled by the Day Spa Association, more consumers are visiting spas than ever before. The age demographic has widened as well; in the 2000 study, "under 25" was not even listed as a category; in 2002, this age group was roughly parallel to the 35-45 category. And just slightly more men are visiting spas than in the past. (The full reports, which include a variety of demographics and consumer preferences, can be purchased through the Day Spa Association by professionals at www.dayspaassociation.com.)

Much of the industry's growth, however, comes from the point-of-sale, industry experts insist. Datamonitor, New York, NY, revealed that $556.4 million was spent on spa/salon skin care items in 2001, up from $506.6 million the year before. Datamonitor projects an increase to $710 million in these products by the year 2005. Meanwhile, on-premise treatments continue to gain popularity, with $260.6 million spent in 2001 vs. $238.6 million in 2000.

Making luxury treatments available at the retail level has broadened the category considerably, and many marketers offer their products via both retail and salon chains.

Avalon Organic Botanicals contain ingredients "so pure, they actually meet the food standard," executives said.

Avalon Natural Products, Petaluma, CA, sells its products to health food stores, spas, beauty salons and on the company's website, www.avalonorgan ics.com. "We're on the cutting edge as far as our products go," said Melissa Jochim of Avalon. "We offer innovative ingredients, like co-enzyme Q10, and a certified organic range of products."

This follows a general lifestyle shift, Ms. Jochim insisted. "Today's consumers are experiencing a lifestyle shift, and we're right on target with that," she said. "Consumers prefer preventive care. They want to keep themselves healthy and stress-free."

According to Avalon executives, the company's Organic Botanicals products are so pure, they actually meet the food standard. "On Oct. 21 (2002), new standards (for certified organic products) came into effect," Ms. Jochim pointed out.

The company is happy to comply. "We grow our own lavender and distill it on our farm," she said. "It's the key ingredient in our products; we don't use water. It makes for a pretty unique range of products."

Avalon's Organic Botanicals range includes Cleansing gel, Cleansing milk, Exfoliating enzyme scrub, moisturizers, masks, lotions and soaps, as well as shower gels, hair care products and a Therapeutic Organic deodorant. Ingredients in Avalon's product line include organic floral waters, aloe vera, plant oils, and extracts. The products do not contain any synthetic fragrance or sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate, company executives pointed out.

"Hippocrates said, 'The way to health is to have an aromatic bath and a scented massage every day," said Ms. Jochim. She added that the industry shows no signs of slowing: "It's a time-tested concept," she insisted. "We are definitely going to see the spa market grow in the future, including everything from products to services."

But Wait...There's More
Of course, Avalon isn't the only company to offer spa-like luxury at home; it's a trend that started several years ago but has been picking up speed recently, industry experts said.

Pretika Corp., Laguna Niguel, CA, introduced three new products in October: the Spa Hand and Foot Therapy set, the Spa Makeup Removal system and a Spa Facial Mask set. The sets include tools, such as a battery-operated hand and foot resurfacing tool, insulated socks and gloves, to give a full-treatment experience to the consumers.

The June Jacobs Spa collection was formulated to meet the needs of discerning spa enthusiasts, executives said. The collection uses highly active concentrations of pure plant extracts in its products to deliver efficacious results.

"I wanted to create a collection that was efficacious and luxuriant," said Ms. Jacobs. "My goal was to blend the best ingredients on earth with today's most technologically advanced formulations for a product unlike anything else available on the market today."

The line includes such tempting products as Citrus body balm, Cranberry Purifying shower gel, Creamy Cranberry conditioner, Detoxifying bath salts and Cucumber cleansing bar, as well as other natural-based products. A cranberry Serenity candle completes the ambiance. The line is available at spas including Peninsula, in New York; Fred Segal, in Los Angeles; Canyon Ranch at the Venetian in Las Vegas and the Camelback spa in Arizona. They can also be obtained online at www.ebodytreatments.com and www. whosthefairest.com. Prices range from $12-110.

Venus Giftware Inc., Calgary, Canada, adds a bit of fun with Kickass Grapefruit bubble bath. The company also offers Bath bricks, a spinoff of Bath seltzers, in such scents as pumpkin pie, blueberry tea and strawberry soda; Bath Infusion and Spa lotion; Bath Wishes, which fizzes while it softens the bath water and fun, pampering kits.

You Can Take It with You
Many marketers who have been succesful throughout the years in this highly competitive market found that changing with the times was the key to success. Salons began to sell the products they used for treatments, while some companies have offered a retail alternative from the beginning.

Zia Natural Skincare, San Francisco, does not have its own spa, but the company has remained successful during its 18 years. "I definitely think this category is evolving back to people taking care of themselves in the home," said Patrick McRae, on-site product and ingredient expert, Zia.

Naturally, this is partially due to the economy. "People want that pampering experience, but financially they might not be able to make the choice to go to a resort," Mr. McRae confirmed. "So home products are drawing a lot of interest."

The company has evolved right along with the industry. "We've always been here," Mr. McRae said. "Almost two years ago, we expanded our line to include body washes, sea mineral soap and a seaweed remineralizing treatment for the skin that's used in the bath."

The line, Body Supplements, is available in boutiques and natural product stores, as well as a website, www.zianatu ral.com. The site also includes articles on how certain ingredients work, and a quarterly newsletter is included "as a way to communicate with out customers directly," Mr. McRae said. "We also have an aesthetician who can answer customers' questions. All together, the site helps us respond to what consumers need on a one-on-one basis."

New York, NY-based Bath Bloomers is primarily available in hotels and day spas, but consumers can purchase products to take home.

"Spas have made a big move to include retail within their existing environment," said Mary Feldman, president, Bath Bloomers. "A salon can only do so many treatments in a day. It's an ideal way to increase revenue."

This doesn't discount the growth of the spas themselves, Ms. Feldman insisted. "The real growth area is the spa itself-the entire environment," she said. "You're a captive audience there, and if the products are available, you're going to buy them."

Bath Bloomers recently introduced Spray Body Massage oil, which is available in nine scents. "It's wonderful to use after the shower or bath," Ms. Feldman said. "The product is a light, non-greasy oil that absorbs nicely and leaves a scent that lasts all day."

Tangerine Yin Yang, the latest scent in the line's offerings, blends grapefruit, sage, and lemongrass among its ingredients to offer "a real punch," Ms. Feldman said. The fragrance was introduced earlier this month.

Like other marketers, Bath Bloomers executives have noticed an evolution in the spa products market.

"We've been in business for four and a half years," Ms. Feldman commented, "and it's been challenging, but we always have a game plan. In the beginning, we concentrated much more on the gift arena, but then we began to realize that the strength of our products was really in the scents and in the quality of our products."

The shift took place about three years ago, "right when the spa arena was really beginning to grow," Ms. Feldman said. "Consumers really respond to our philosophy. It's all about keeping your life in balance."

The idea for BodyCoffee and JavaBalm products originated following Stephka's Collection founder Stephanie Profitt's visit to Russia.

A Wakeup Call for Skin
Some marketers have gone that extra mile-literally-to bring exotic treatments to the U.S. For instance, Stephka's Collection LLC, San Francisco, has roots that date back to 1996, when founder Stephanie Profitt visited a traditional Russan bathhouse, known as the "banya."

"I was on a very grueling work schedule when I was in Russia, and I loved to visit the banya as often as possible for a relaxing break," Ms. Profitt said. In the process, she witnessed the use of coffee grounds for a skin care experience. "People there were using coffee in a way I'd never seen before-rubbing it on their bodies as a stimulating exfoliant," she said.

Ms. Profitt learned that coffee is a natural astringent, antioxidant and deodorant, and has been a Russian tradition for generations. This eventually sparked the idea for the new BodyCoffee and JavaBalm collections.

Ms. Profitt and partner Serge Kogan developed the lines to include such products as Invigorating body polish, Moisturizing body lotion, Hydrating body balm, Energizing body bar and JavaBalm SPF-15 lip balm, which is available in three flavors.

"We launched the line in April at Ex-Tracts and won Best Product there," said Mr. Kogan. "We offer it as both a treatment and a retail product." Treatments are available in spas in California, and a website, www.bodycoffee.com, offers more information on the products. The company plans on introducing a coffee flower-fragranced body wash by the end of the year, to complement the body lotion.

"We're extremely busy," Mr. Kogan said. "We can hardly keep up with demand. The products are going to be flying off the shelves during the coming holiday season."

Another tradition, clay-based face and body masks, were introduced recently by The Costa Rican Mud Company, Miami, with the Selva de Osa line. "The curative properties of natural clays have been known and utilized by ancient cultures for centuries," a company spokesperson said.

Selva de Osa contains a 100% natural mud that is carefully handled to ensure its purity, company executives said. The face and body mask includes potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorous, nitrogen, manganese and iron. Executives said the mask can be used in a weekly beauty routine but is also useful for relief of muscle aches and pains, minor cuts and abrasions. A portion of the proceeds of each Selva de Osa face and body mask is donated to the preservation of the rainforest; details are available at the company's website, www. ancientsediment.com.

Serious Therapy
Some at-home spa treatments aim to do more than moisturize and rejuvenate, offering what executives claim are superior benefits in the comfort of one's home.

Cristina Carlino introduced the BioMedic MicroPeel, a dermaplaning technique, more than a decade ago; it has since become a popular request in doctors' offices. However, not every client has the time and financial means to receive such treatments in-house.

In response to this need, Ms. Carlino created a home version of the Micro-Peel. That line, Philosophy, incorporates exfoliating catalese enzymes and oxygen to help improve the quality of problem and sun-damaged skin in just three minutes, Ms. Carlino insisted.

The BioMedic medical skin care company was so successful that it was acquired by L'Oréal in 2001. "They (L'Oréal) now have all of BioMedic's R&D to help give La Roche Posay, a subsidiary of L'Oréal, a presence with plastic surgeons in the United States," she said. Philosophy is available at Nordstrom, Sephora, sephora.com and other specialty stores.

Consumers who suffer from skin conditions such as psoriasis can find relief with Black Sea pink salt from Buroland Production Inc., Brooklyn, NY. The company also offers Black Sea pink salt exfoliating body buff and Black Sea pink salt relaxing foot scrub. All products are 100% natural, Buroland executives said.

Aveeno also offers a soothing experience. The brand recently added Skin Smoothing scrub, a gentle scrub that helps to reveal healthier skin. It contains walnut grains, jojoba beads and colloidal oatmeal. The lightly-fragranced scrub is gentle enough to use every day, even on sensitive skin, according to executives. The product is hypoallergenic as well.

Aviana Body Products and Body Work were developed by Nancy E. Schmitt, owner of the Emerald Springs body spa in Hershey, PA. Ms. Schmitt's research includes intense study in treating individuals living with cancer or critical illlness. She trained with healers, bodyworkers and scientists in the fields of mind-body medicine, energy medicine and native American medicine.

The Aviana Body Products line was developed at the Emerald Springs salon, Hershey, PA, to treat individuals living with cancer and other critical illnesses, executives said.
According to executives, in conjunction with Mindful Massage and the spa's Support pillow, individuals living with pain or stress can experience physical and mental relaxation that help alleviate the perception of pain. The therapies and products are available at the Emerald Springs body spa.

Room to Grow
Despite all these advances, the spa industry definitely has room to grow, industry executives insist. Primarily, the growth will most likely be in the retail sector as consumers seek inexpensive self-pampering avenues. At the same time, a growth spurt in the number of day spas, as well as spa-type treatments in salons, will help propel the industry into the mainstream.

Spa de Soleil, for example, recently relocated to a larger facility to accommodate its growth. The company now has more than 500 products in its private label line, executives said. Spa de Soleil, like most of its contemporaries, sells to consumers as well as the salons themselves to maximize exposure of its successful line.

Does do-it-yourself compare to that luxurious experience of being pampered for a fee? Maybe not, but retail and salon are heading closer to one another. "In the spa, you're getting the full pampering treatment while you lie back and relax," said Ms. Feldman of Bath Bloomers. "At home, you're more likely to step into the shower, put on the product, rinse off and go."

But although the application may be different, "You still get a pampered feeling," Ms Feldman pointed out, "even though you're doing it yourself." And in these hectic times, even a do-it-yourself spa experience is better than no experience at all.