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Branding Relaxation

Posted: June 5, 2007, from the June 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

Natural and wellness trends continue to impact the beauty industry. Spas and resorts go hand-in-hand with these trends, offering consumers products and services that contribute to their sense of wellness.

Spas in North America are a leading leisure industry, encompassing nearly 14,000 facilities and generating $9.7 billion in annual revenue, according to the International SPA Association (ISPA). Spas are no longer simply weekend retreats, but encompass the lunch hour manicure and massages at the area day spa. Clients want to be pampered with a feeling of luxury and exclusivity no matter how little time they have.

Spas provide a place to tap into that sense of luxury and privilege with consumers; for brands, spas are a distribution point that can set products apart from those sold through mass outlets. Creating a spa destination and a product line may produce added value through consistency in look, feel and service delivery. According to ISPA, 93% of spas operate as a single brand. Through a consistent message and fostered consumer recognition, a brand can efficiently and cost-effectively launch new locations. For the majority of companies that operate in more than one location, 71% still operate under a single brand—demonstrating the rapport a brand can build with its market base, which, in turn, translates into product brand loyalty.

“Opening a spa paves the way for a brand to have access to a whole new type of customer, who would not normally be available to [it],” said Edwin Neill, president, Neill Corporation. “This customer is affluent, informed and focused on health and wellness. Finally, your average spa consumer is not someone you would find shopping in mass retailers, so for new brands, it’s easier to get a spa owner to carry a product than brands that already have a firm foothold in upscale department stores.”

As a result, brands looking to tap into a different customer base are looking to the spa industry. “The current trend in the industry is to see brands opening spas—rather than specific spa brands,” said Alison Howland, director of spa development, Aveda Corporation.

Creating an Experience