Sign in

What Trends Will Make Your Business More Profitable? With Exclusive Commentary From Leslie Lyon of Spas2b Inc.

Leslie Lyon, president of Spas2b Inc., a spa business management education, training and consulting company, translates the new Trendwatching trends for 2012 for spas, offering valuable insight and suggestions about how your business can react to these trends in a profitable way.

I always get excited when I read the annual trends report, and this year is no exception. Technology is driving many of these trends and, because of this, a "re-positioning" of sorts continues to be forced upon businesses big and small. If you don't keep up, you may not necessarily expire, but you will lose ground. Here are some points you'll need to consider.

  • Continue to boost your "wiredness" socially and technically.
  • Step outside your comfort zone to broaden your peripheral markets.
  • Develop unique offerings that show off different sides to your spa's personality.
  • Attract the value-seekers market with a showing of dollar-driven offerings and incentives.
  • Show you care with ethical, human behaviors and practices.
  • Help sustain the planet consciously and creatively.
  • Change your old familiar patterns and consider zeroing in on any one of the surfacing eclectic populations, who are making personal choices that will build their brand and solidify their status.

1. Red carpet. Everyone wants to shower Chinese clients and visitors with tailored services, perks, attention and respect; their overseas trips to North America bring unrivaled business opportunities. But what about the Chinese population that is within your surrounding area? Could you be niche marketing to this burgeoning demographic? Do you have Asian staff with Eastern expertise? Why not get your spa on their radar with a showing of specifically catered unique offerings?

2. DIY health. Countless new apps and devices target consumers interested in managing their own health, from maintenance to prevention. Tapping into this trend is a no-brainer for spas. Your client intake form just became service solid gold. Familiarize yourself with your clients' health and these new apps that cover everything from cardio fitness to mole monitoring to pain management, and start looking at the new definition of "client longevity." In the recent past, client longevity has often been related to the lifetime value that a client brings to a business. Now you can really work toward increasing your client's longevity with cutting-edge technological advances that increase lifespan, too.

3. Dealer chic. The best deal is now a way of life, even a source of pride and status. Even though many people have less to spend, they continue to expect the ultimate experience. How you find ways to make deals and offers exciting and attractive is your assignment--and it's mandatory.

4. Eco-cycology. This involves brands taking back their products and recycling them responsibly. I have clients who take back empty jars and packaging, and recycle them for their clients; they put their tea bags and towelettes into compost; but what about joining an organization such as the Global Soap Project, who recover discarded soap from hotels and reprocess them into new bars for worldwide distribution to vulnerable populations?

5. Cash-less. Forego your credit card and pay for purchases by waving or tapping your smartphone onto the electronic reader. And when you subscribe to Google Wallet, it also allows you to redeem coupons, get sales promos and loyalty points. Although this may be an initiative for larger spas to get involved in, it's all about technology and now you don't just need to get online, you need to get onboard. High-tech spaing ... isn't that an oxymoron?

6. Bottom of the Urban Pyramid (BOUP). Your ability to cater to the low-income consumer holds unprecedented opportunities this year. BOUP consumers have materialistic and aesthetic desires too. The Indian government is subsidizing tablet computers; ATMs are finding ways to make services available to illiterate populations; and PepsiCo is test-marketing smart-food to BOUP consumers in India. Spas have been doing no-frills, advantage pricing and online discount sites for awhile now, but are you marketing those deals to the BOUP consumer?

7. Idle sourcing. Crowd-based problem-solving will continue to shake up business processes and force innovation, but idle-sourcing is making it even less difficult for consumers to contribute. With this trend, the consumer voluntarily signs up to allow Company A to capture automated real-time data through their smartphone, within Company A's specific areas of need. One example is Company A detecting street bumps and pot holes through smartphone sensors. Not sure where spas fit into this one, unless you have treatment beds that detect back or neck discomfort, or heating blankets that beep when they cause hot flashes beyond what might be normally acceptable in a woman my age!

8. Flawsome. Brands that behave more humanly, including showing their flaws, will be awesome! Profit and personality can be compatible. Spas haven't always been great at flaunting their Flawsome; in fact, some would say over-promising with minimal flexibility in response to disappointment has made them nonflawsome; anti-flawsome; no-can-do-flawsome ... you get my drift. So this trend is timely for spas. Working with the ever-present risk of disappointment, it's just good judgment to show generosity and humility when faced with your flaws.

9. Screen culture. Your life is literally unfolding on interactive screens. Screen fatigue? No way. This trend ranges from watching sports events on a screen attached to your shopping cart; to touch-activated windows that allow customers to browse retailer's catalogs and hear about products through "whispering windows" acting as speakers. This causes me to have a vision of what I'll call "spa-osks." Kiosks with touch screens throughout malls, hotels, airports and lounges, where consumers can make any purchase, from any spa, for anyone, at any time. They can waive their smart phone at the electronic reader to make the purchase, leave an online video wish for the recipient, and go about their business. Far fetched? I don't think so.

10. Recommerce. "Trade in to trade up" and unlock the value of past purchases; it's the new buying. For example, Levi's in Singapore offered customers a bounce back coupon, discount and vouchers when a customer brought in their old jeans and bought a new pair. And then there's The Common Threads Initiative, where Patagonia, eBay and you make buying and selling clothing more sustainable. This is one that we can definitely apply to spas; look back to #3 "Dealer chic." Maybe your spa clients can bring in their used jars of skin and body care products, and receive a percentage of that total investment amount to purchase new products; or redeem their total investment amount in services rendered for the last six months, as a percentage, to give as a gift voucher to a friend or family member.

11. Emerging maturialism. Consumers are increasingly appreciating brands that push the boundaries with daring innovations and risqué experiences. For all of our cultural differences, the global consumer is remarkably alike in their needs and wants. Everyone knows that sex sells, but that's totally taboo in the spa world. But what may not be taboo is well-placed sexy humor. Now that would get you talked about ... and Facebook says that's a good thing!

12. Point to know. Bringing the consumer information instantly, about objects and people that they encounter, such as Google Goggles free image recognition app, which allows users to search for more information based on photos taken of bar codes or objects. And then there is Shazam, which is a music recognition software that allows you to identify the song you hear. How many times have you been in a store and asked what the great song is that's playing, and the clerk says, "I don't know, it's pre-recorded by our head office". I need to get one of those Shazam things. But can't you see a spa-goer eventually being able to "point to know" the price and information on spa skin care items, and wouldn't that be a splendid selling tool for spas and of great value to the client? I think yes ... and I don't see this being too far off either.

So, I'm very pumped after researching these trends, and I hope you are, too. Even if you apply just one of them to your business, remember what I always say "Focus, and never deviate from it." Go on, just do it! I've already picked mine.