Expanding boundaries: Spa trends for 2012

The Spa Association (SPAA), for spa owners and business-to-business providers, has released its trends report for 2012.

Population explosion, globalization and multiculturalism are having profound effects on spas and spa-goers. Because the world is so neatly joined cultural boundaries are a part of the exploration when choosing a spa. Europeans search for the quick-fix day spa experience that American’s have so richly honed, as Asians reach out to Western Europe, and Europeans reach out to Asia to experience the similarities and differences that make regional spas so unique to their roots.

A large demographic of that population is rapidly aging and requiring services that truly cater to very specific needs. While “Baby Boomers” are a demographic group, they aren’t alike at all. Some of these “older” consumers can run circles around 30 somethings, and while affluent, no two spa-goers are identical in their spa spending preferences. With this in mind wellness is going to trump “beauty” as this older population wants to live to the full extent of their ability while feeling great.

Historic wellness
More ancient time-treasured therapies are finally being embraced by North American spa-goers as therapies are sought that really assist with aches, pains, respiratory ailments and a host of other common minor maladies. Salt caves, peloids, balneo and thallasso therapies have been known healing remedies to cultures around the globe. Finally, banyas, hammams, and social wellness environments are being embraced, as well as healing lifestyle enhancements like saline therapy and steam, color therapy and float tanks.

Branding, consolidation and authenticity
The struggle between authentic, locally owned smaller spas and branded corporate conglomerates begins to pick up speed. Just as with the restaurant environment, branded spa experiences expand in 2012 like no other year as corporations flex the consistency, amenities and group employment muscle to edge out a variety of mom and pop facilities in the race to market domination. While deal of the day offers will always draw the fickle or one-time consumer market, differentiation from value to luxury will grow in all segments.

Results-driven consistency
Day spas still own a majority stake in the market with close to 80% of all spa facilities labeled as day spas. As consumers adjust to the global economic crunch, many spa goers are simply selecting services more carefully. Treatments are sought out just as often, if not more so in previous years, but spa goers are targeting services that provide results like injectibles, lash extensions, non-ablative skin rejuvenation and laser hair removal. Medical and scientific proof will be just as sought out as hands on experiential evidence that spa products and therapies are working on the individual level.

Experiential minis
Quick, affordable and impactful services that can be had at the local shopping center, airport, or urban hub will provide affordable breaks for those on the high-speed treadmill of life. Just as Starbucks has landed a place in consumer’s hearts for a social respite that everyone can afford, small enclaves of relaxation and rejuvenation are just around the corner with meditative and virtual reality relaxation at consumer’s fingertips.

Spas as social
Spas continue to grab their share of the recreational market as they continue to grow distinctive specialty programs to draw customers seeking a unique group experience. Destination spas have been offering yoga, art, cooking and lifestyle programming retreats for decades. Now that same experience is offered at day spas, away days, urban resorts and every venue in between. Spas and resort destinations will continue to become as individualized and group-specified as the spa goers that request unique group events and spa opportunities. Spas expand to become the new community gathering spot for groups and families.