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The Economic Influence

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: February 26, 2009, from the March 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

This industry thrives on trends—the latest and greatest takes on what clients want and need from spas. Multiple spa publications, organizations and Web sites even grandly announce their top 10 lists for what will be big at the beginning of every year.

This year, however, things are different; clients’ needs and wants have changed, and so the trends may not be as catchy or gasp-inducing or exotic beyond belief. This year, clients need and want spas to make skin maintenance and stress reduction accessible and affordable, and a variety of initiatives are taking place to make sure that happens.

Skin maintenance vs. stress reduction

These battling concepts of maintaining skin health and soothing stress from the body are both crucial for clients, especially during this recession. Because of the level of stress that has been stoked by the economic downturn, clients require an escape from their worldly problems now more than ever. But they also need solid results in order to keep spa visits as must-haves in their budgets. “When things are tough, because of the field we’re in, we focus on having a peaceful, serene environment. In stressful times, people need that. When they come here, they don’t want to leave. We have to focus on addressing clients’ needs and looking at their stress levels,” says Sandra Donovan, owner of Donovan’s Serenity & Wellness Spa in Alpena, Michigan.

Jane Wurwand, founder of Dermalogica and a longtime proponent of skin maintenance, believes the recession has brought an end to pampering in the spa. “For me, skin therapy has nothing to do with luxury or relaxation. It’s a necessity, a part of health and well-being like fitness or nutrition. Pampering and luxury doesn’t resonate, and no consumer is going in that direction,” she says.

Of course, these opposing perspectives both have their merits and in the end, their balance will result in a happy, well-served clientele. “We need to try to reduce stress and be focused on results because clients don’t have money to waste,” says Donovan.

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