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  • Susan Yardley

The Spa Retail Conundrum

Retail products & skincare recommendations have been a foundational part of any treatment for the longest time in Spas. A true treatment experience doesn’t start and stop within a 60 minutes window, therapists are taught to provide consultations, analyse the skin, and suggest home care in order to genuinely have an impact on a guest's wellbeing longer term.

This allowed quality skincare brands, whose primary sales came from spas, to grow and as a result, their efforts went into creating effective & innovative spa treatments. Likewise, the support and training that was provided created a team of highly educated therapists & front of house team members who adopted a consultative approach, tailoring every element of the guest journey to identify the perfect lasting solutions for their skin & body care concerns.

More recently, there has been a shift as major spa home care brands have sold out to retail giants

As a result, many spa managers & operators are feeling like they've turned their backs on the Spa experience in favour of driving B2C product sales. One example from a concerned spa manager shared that therapist treatment training for some major players has dropped from an average of 10 days down to as low as 3.

Now, many spas are finding themselves in competition with the very brands they’ve helped build!

The margins the product manufacturers enjoy allow them to target customers with online discounts and gifts with purchases. They’re opening their own retail shops in malls where they offer facial treatments for free when retail is purchased. They’re selling their products in Duty-Free stores at airports around the world.

Does this pose the conundrum… should spas even bother trying to compete?

Home care & skincare might be an important part of allowing guests to achieve the results they want, but let’s look at this from a business perspective. Spa skincare revenue usually makes up between 8-25% of the top line, but how does that actually translate to the bottom line? When was the last time you analysed what % of profit came from retail sales?

Might your team members, and your bottom line, be happier if we turned the focus back to treatments and driving more service revenue rather than retail sales? Therapists often don’t feel confident ‘selling’ to guests, so removing that factor would be a welcome move for some.

So, where do we go from here?

Will this change give way to a new partnership between spas & product brands? Is there a way that brands can incentivise the spas & team members, rewarding them for sales made online using a special discount code? Should these brands be ‘partnering’ with therapists instead of unqualified ‘influencers’?

What do you think? What does the future of retail in Spas look like for you?

Has your Spa business been impacted by this?

  • I haven't noticed!

  • I've noticed it, but it's not really impacting my business

  • I've noticed it, and it has been a real challenge for my spa

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