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Laying Down Luxury

By: Jane Wurwand
Posted: June 2, 2009, from the June 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

The best thing about luxury? You don’t need it after all—hooray! This is literally the definition of luxury: something you don’t need. Recent huge shifts in cultural values point away from waste, excess and extravagance, and these shifts are also now presenting skin care professionals with the opportunity to reinvent their businesses and the spa industry itself.

Skin care professionals who still market their products and services as luxury, pampering and indulgence are understandably concerned about their future. But here’s the epiphany the industry has been waiting for: Skin health is not a luxury. Health is never frivolous. Skin health practices are actually a proactive form of fitness and informed self-care. Presented in this manner, the expertise of the skin therapist is an excellent investment for your clients.

The challenge for today then becomes how to offer skin care in newly relevant ways. Clients today demand more value. This is based not only on economics; it’s also based on the fact that people are generally time-deprived. If there’s one luxury everyone still covets, it’s more hours in the day. This means every inch of floor space and every minute of every interaction you have with clients has to generate revenue.

Less is not more—it’s just enough

Visionary filmmaker and author David Wann captures the excessiveness of American culture in a single word: affluenza. The primary symptom of affluenza is believing bigger is better, and many skin care centers, spas, salons and other businesses are guilty of promoting this idea. Actually, more is truly only just more. But what’s needed is not more. In terms of what you offer your clients, you simply need what is essential and excellent—that’s enough.

Begin by having a look at your menu. Is it huge? Enormous? Gigantic? You get bonus points for every time the words luxury, pampering or indulgence are mentioned in the descriptions of the treatments. Other danger signs include chocolate, rose petals and artwork featuring goddesses. These motifs do not deliver results, which is what your newly motivated clients demand.