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Industry Trends: Coming Full Circle

By: Melinda Taschetta-Millane
Posted: December 1, 2011, from the December 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa in Tucson, Arizona, recently launched its Focused Stay programs.

Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa in Tucson, Arizona, recently launched its Focused Stay programs.

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Obviously you are familiar with Skin Inc. magazine, but what you might not know is its history, or that it is owned by Allured Business Media, which publishes a variety of industry titles. One of these publications is Cosmetics & Toiletries (C&T) magazine, which covers information catering to cosmetic chemists. In the world of publishing, reader demographics are very important, and qualifying cards are used to keep track of this information. With C&T, the word “esthetician” kept appearing as a job title on these qualifying cards. After much investigating, it became clear that there was room in the industry for a publication for estheticians that focused on business and science. So in the fall of 1988, Skin Inc. magazine made its debut. This also was a time of growth for the industry, as spas took on the focus of serious skin care, and looked at the balance between mind and body wellness.

Fast forward to the new millennium—the year 2000—and “spa” explodes. Consumers are able to experience gold facials, the ultimate luxury, coating the face with a layer of 24-karat gold at a cost of $200 and up. They are marketed as helping revitalize the skin by accelerating cell renewal and reversing oxidation damage. Another luxury, The Geisha Facial, uses traditional and natural Japanese ingredients to soften, brighten and nourish the facial complexion, including nightingale droppings, and was made famous—and also made headlines—at Shizuka New York Day Spa.

The industry was riding high. Spas throughout the nation were enjoying this success, and many business people were jumping on the bandwagon, hanging up their spa shingles. In 2008, it became noticeable that sales were starting to decline, and the phone wasn’t ringing for bookings quite as often. The recession started to take its toll, along with the downtrending of consumer spending habits. Had some of these posh industry trends run their course?

According to the International SPA Association (ISPA), the number of spa locations grew from 5,700 in 1999 to 20,600 in 2009. However, there was a 3.2% decrease compared to 2008. In that same vein, spa visits were down 10.2% in 2009, compared to the previous year. Revenue dipped 4.3%, and the industry saw an increase in the number of part-time employees. These results were alarming to most—and eye-opening. A few decided the time was right to retire and exit the industry; some who were far from retirement simply waived the white flag. However, many smart owners sat down, studied these figures and patterns, and came up with strategies to reinvent the way business was being done.

Reinventing business

Bravo to all of the skin care professionals who have withstood this change and figured out a way to thrive. This new era of skin care facility owners and managers is a savvy group that knows all aspects of the business, from management to marketing to customer service. So what is happening in today’s industry? A major trend is a return to the basics; going back to the true purpose of skin care: health, healing and overall well-being. Today’s skin health is seen as an affordable necessity, and is no longer an extravagant luxury. Today’s clients want shorter regimens of reasonably priced products, and thanks to clever suppliers and spa owners, they are getting what they want.