Pulse Points

The Growing Importance of Retail

by Russell Donaldson

ISPA has released the ninth edition of its popular consumer Snapshot initiative. For almost a decade, the Consumer Snapshot has been producing invaluable quantitative data for the spa industry on attitudes and opinions of a sample of the population. The research has always focused on giving spa professionals vital information on the emerging opportunities that could strengthen their business, and this year’s study—which interviewed 1,000 spa-goers across the U.S.—brings together a treasure trove of information on consumers’ intentions and preferences when visiting a spa.

Arguably, the most striking opportunity coming from the latest figures is the untapped potential of retail in spas. Encouragingly, the survey shows that purchasing products at the spa is front of mind for consumers—the majority (58 percent) stated they made a purchase on their most recent visit. That means, however, still well over a third did not. So, spas can still do more to drive the sale of retail products to customers—especially for female customers, who the research showed are more likely to spend nothing on retail (39 percent compared to 32 percent of men). Retail is a huge area of opportunity for the industry, and spas without a retail offering in-house are potentially missing an additional revenue stream—one that appears to be positively contributing to the spa-going experience as a whole.

While 58 percent said they bought a retail product on their most recent visit, only 42 percent said they actually go to the spa intending to buy products “some or all of the time.” Therefore, the role of the therapist (and the thorny topic of upselling) cannot be underestimated in all of this, with almost three quarters of spa-goers saying they value education on product suggestions (73 percent) and the products used in a treatment (74 percent). Millennials, with their ever-increasing spending power, are a prime target and are more likely to have made a purchase than any other generational group, as well as being most welcoming of product suggestions. This data suggests that ‘spontaneous sales’ of products are not uncommon and that a greater focus on training and techniques for upselling could help grow retail revenues in spas.

Much is said about the growth of online retail and this study highlights some useful new findings on the role of internet shopping in the spa industry. A considerable number of spa-goers (more than half—51 percent) reported purchasing products online ‘some or all of the time’ after visiting a spa—once again, millennials surpass the other generations (64 percent). With so many spa-goers keen to purchase online, there could be a sizeable opportunity for spas with the strongest online offering. Many spas are yet to venture into the world of online selling; as online shopping grows, are they missing out on a growing trend to those spas which already offer this service?

Giving spas ideas on growing revenue is an important aim of ISPA’s consumer Snapshot initiative. The latest study contains a vast amount of information to help spa professionals enhance their offering and encourage greater spending. Seizing the opportunities that appeal most to customers will undoubtedly help spas engage better with their clientele and maximize the revenue they earn from them.