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The Economic Influence

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

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She also dedicated herself to research and identified a new product she personally supports and retails at her spa—even selling out of the first inventory in two weeks. “We always try to have something that nobody else has. I knew that it was an innovative item for this area and our clients trust what we say because we would never sell something we didn’t believe in,” explains Donovan.

Ireifej also is helping clients through her product options—specifically, products for clients with severe skin problems. “Some of my acne clients are teenagers and can’t keep up with their products. I did a program where I gave them a product to try for two weeks. They felt like we were giving them something they could take home, and at the same time, I felt like I gave a hand to someone who really needed it and has a serious situation. I picked it up off the shelf and gave it to them and they turned around and gave me a hug,” says Ireifej.

I’m coming out

The recession has cleared the way for the acceptance of an innovative spa concept: bringing treatments out of the treatment room. Two leading skin care product companies—Repêchage and Dermalogica—have been backing models that encourage a more salonlike setting in an open area of the spa where clients can get quick, focused treatments. This not only helps keep clients returning to the spa—despite financial concerns—to get their needs met, but it also provides them with a more cost-effective and efficient way of maintaining their skin. Additionally, it introduces the services to those who are seeing treatments being done and can lead to more retail purchases and treatment bookings.

One of the innate problems with the current spa setup is that clients can’t see other services taking place. “There is nothing up front that says a spa is engaged in spa activity. It’s either hidden upstairs or downstairs. The clients that go through the door don’t ever see skin care activity,” says Lydia Sarfati, founder and CEO of Repêchage. “This formula spells disaster and lack of sales.” Sarfati’s Facial Bar Concept provides a variety of short, focused treatments for clients who may not be able to afford the full-blown service, although this taste of the treatment should result in more interest for the 60-minute service. “The bar is an appetizer, and for the main course, they go into the room,” explains Sarfati.

Wurwand, founder of Dermalogica’s MicroZone treatments, which also offer shorter, focused treatments out in the open, likens the shift in service to the chair massage. “The seated chair massage hasn’t replaced the 60-minute massage, and the MicroZone treatment outside the room doesn’t replace the one-hour service in the room,” she says. “It offers an alternative, and it’s perfect for this economic period. You have to give clients the opportunity to come in and maintain their skin at a lower price point with a more results-oriented service.”

The main goal