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Spa Products’ Limitless Future

By Karen Newman
Posted: January 31, 2007, from the February 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

According to the 2004 International SPA Association (ISPA) study, the top 10 product types in spa retailing include skin and body care products, products and treatments for men, and demand for quality products and specific ingredients. These days, many contract manufacturers offer, or are asked to produce, products for spa and home-spa use.
       Pamela Jo Busiek, CEO and president of CBI Laboratories, Inc., says the company currently manufactures more than 30 different private label spa body formulations for both retail and in-spa professional treatments. CBI’s core retail products include spa bath and shower basics as well as a line of aromatherapeutic spa body products with relaxing and invigorating benefits.
       “In the past several years, we have added some successful retail products … including a single-phase sugar scrub, shower wash and body butter,” Busiek states.
       According to Melanie Dean-Valdez, CBI’s director of marketing and product training, the company expanded its professional spa body treatment offerings with the launch of a detoxifying scrub and contouring serum that are designed to be used as an in-spa detoxifying service for cellulite. Natural sea salt from Okinawa, with its high mineral content, combines with organic colloidal fresh water silts from the Baltic lakes to help improve skin smoothness, texture and tone.
       “We also added an intricate mix of trace mineral elements, along with Arctic peat, wasabi and Japanese mushroom extracts to assist in removing debris and impurities while toning the skin,” says Dean-Valdez.
       McKenna Labs also manufactures spa products, according to Sheryl Singer, McKenna’s national sales and marketing manager. The company does not produce its own brands so as not to compete with its customers’ lines.
       “As contract manufacturers, we let our customers choose the products in their lines and we manufacture, fill, label and ship for them,” Singer says.

Growth progression
       Sun Deep Cosmetics sees a very different picture than it did even five years ago. According to Sundeep Gill, a pharmacist and the company’s vice president of research and development, spas still were coming into their own 10 years ago and were ordering just the basics, such as lotions and moisturizers. That started to change five years ago, and the company recognized a trend.
       “Spas were trying to balance cosmetics with technology, which helps create noticeable changes,” states Gill. “At the time, technology had yet to catch up to imagination.”
       Now, he says, his company offers a virtual arsenal of novel, innovative products, including enzyme exfoliation masks, calming masks, sugar/salt scrubs, blending bases, moisture masks, collagen creams, eye circle gels and much more.
       Busiek has watched the same progression. Ten years ago, CBI was manufacturing basic bath and body formulations with natural plant oils and vegetable-based emollients. Throughout the years, the company has expanded into aromatherapeutic products, as well as body exfoliation products that use natural oils and scrubbing agents such as turbinado sugar and Dead Sea salts.
       At McKenna Labs, the ingredients used to formulate products comprise one major difference found in product production today. Another change is the addition of more cosmetic body products to accompany the skin care products that the company produces. These body products include sugar and salt scrubs, hand and body lotions and fragrances.
       “Men’s and teen spa lines are another new product mix,” says Singer, giving weight to the findings in the ISPA report.
       Where do the ideas for all the new products originate? As in many industries today, contract manufacturers in the cosmetic industry are staying ahead of their competition by developing new products and concepts that they can push out to the marketplace. So what do you do when novel technologies cross your path? Gill turns them into products to intrigue his customers.
       “As a licensed and practicing pharmacist, I receive an in-the-trenches view of what people are expecting out of the cosmetic industry through the questions I am asked. This gives Sun Deep Cosmetics a needed edge to tackle an ever-changing market,” he says.
       While CBI relies on customer requests and suggestions for new product ideas, it, too, finds inspiration in new technologies. The majority of its spa body product innovations come from sourcing novel ingredients from various countries around the world.

Ingredient mix
       Spas worldwide are inspired by their indigenous ingredients and local cultures, which is evident in each spa’s own retail line and treatments. Branding and retailing within the spa industry, particularly among resort and hotel spas, continues to be a key trend in the industry and is expected to continue for some time.
       This spring, CBI launched its newest retail spa body product line. Inspired by the beautiful beaches in Bora Bora, the collection features a blend of moisturizing tropical oils combined with white sand exclusively from Bora-Bora and Tahitian coconut shell powder. Extracts of hibiscus, orchid and Tiare flower blended with nuances of Tahitian vanilla and island coconut milk to create a tropical spa escape for the senses.
       For McKenna Labs, there are big differences in the ingredients for which customers are looking. Five to 10 years ago, alpha hydroxy acids were the most requested ingredients, whereas today, customers are clamoring for peptides, copper and skin hydrators. Also, natural and organic ingredients are being requested more frequently, as are products for men and products marketed to teens.
       “The ingredients we used five years ago were more mainstream than the ingredients used today,” states Gill. “With the advent of new, more natural chemical processes and innovative botanicals, we are able to create products that actually can effect long-lasting skin changes.”
       Changes in the market are the result of pressures from consumers coupled with the desire of the industry to make ordinary products more effective.

Staying fresh
       Making products that do what they say they’ll do is one ongoing challenge for industry marketers and manufacturers. The constant consumer desire for newness is another. According to Gill, spa product developers are not exempt.
       “The never-ending challenge of spa marketers is to keep their ideas fresh,” he says. “Trying to market yesterday’s news will rarely work despite any price structure. In order to be successful, marketers must keep their products on the forefront of innovation.”
       The $11.2 billion-plus spa industry is targeting both high-end and mainstream clients in an increasingly sophisticated spa market that is propelled by the growing wellness trend. The growth of spa facilities and increased awareness has led to spa-inspired beauty products lining the shelves of everything from high-end beauty supply stores to department store cosmetic sections to the corner pharmacy. In fact, 2005 spa retail figures are expected to register at approximately $701 million.
 Manufacturers are optimistic about the future of spa products. “Spa care looks bright, not only in the United States, but worldwide,” says Gill. “We are seeing a tremendous growth in the market.”
       McKenna’s Singer agrees. “The spa products market has expanded enormously with larger spas adding more body products, at-home spa services, and more men and teens going to spas—as well as people wanting to take better care of their skin and themselves and having the knowledge at their fingertips,” she states.
       In Singer’s view, the spa products market, like all skin and body care products, is always expanding with changing product knowledge, research and new technologies in raw materials.
       “The future is limitless,” she concludes.

Editor’s note: This article originally was published in the June 2006 issue of GCI magazine, and has been reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.