Shooting from the hip

Lack of innovation in the male spa market drives me mad

13th Dec 2016
Lack of innovation in the male spa market drives me mad

Mark Smith a.k.a The Spa Man, is Shooting From the Hip

The men’s grooming market is booming but for some reason the spa market merely pays lip service to male clients and offers them a poor choice of treatments and therapies. Often you will see maybe half a page of treatments devoted to men on the spa menu. It’s still commonplace for treatments to be repackaged and renamed “for men”. Sounds harsh? I visit around 30 spas every year and I see very little innovation in the spa market for men and I can’t understand why.

Men are visiting spas and the numbers are increasing around the world. I have seen various figures regarding the number of men who visit spas – but its hard to get an accurate figure. According to Conde Nast Traveler magazine, 35% of spa goers are male. Compare this to figures quoted by SpaFinder Wellness 365 which says “20 years ago, men made up 10% of the US spa market – compare that to 47% in 2013.” So we can only assume that the UK is following a similar pattern, and whatever figure is correct, more men are visiting spas. I see it myself.

Lack of innovation

The male spa market has seen relatively few new launches in the last two years and very little innovation in the treatment arena. Treatment menus often ignore the burgeoning male market, reserving new launches exclusively for female clients.

There is a huge opportunity here and very few spas recognise it.

And this appears to be a missed opportunity, as according to Mintel, sales of men's toiletries in the UK rose from £523 million in 2009, to around £591 million in 2014 and they are forecast to rise to £613 million in 2019. It’s big business. Mintel discovered that 42% of UK men use facial moisturisers, 22% use cleanser, 16% facial wipes, 7% eye gels and 6% use face masks. Under-35s are the biggest consumers with 48% using more than seven different products. Men are increasingly using a wider range of products and spending more time grooming. There is a huge opportunity here and very few spas recognise it.

Appealing to men is a fine art and giving them what they want is the key to business success, hence the growth of barbering in the spa.

Barber spa

It’s one of the only interesting things I have noted in the last three years - the advent of the barber chair in the spa. Barbering services have been popping up in spas across the continent and now in the UK. I first saw it in Frankfurt at Frankfurter Hof and then Resense partnered with Truefitt and Hill to launch barbering services across Europe. Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge has done it and so too, Bovey Castle in Devon. I guess that this is natural progression. There has been an explosion on the high street in barber shops and the beard trend has given further potency to this.

Making a male space in the spa where men feel comfortable seems like a good idea. This can only serve to bring more guys to the party, but it doesn’t address the treatment menu in the main spa area. These barbering services are separate, but can be an introduction to spa if handled correctly.

Spas need to tap into the driving factors behind why men want to look good.

Spas need to tap into the driving factors behind why men want to look good. These include the desire to be fit and healthy, their careers, competition in the dating market and social media are the key factors that are driving men to look good. Tapping into these deeper desires will enable spas to develop a more tailored treatment menu.

Linking fitness and spa is a no-brainer. Some locations have started to do it. LUX Resorts have introduced the Wellness Concierge, but I think that this could be enhanced and improved a lot more. But it’s a great start. There’s also a real need to personalise treatments for men that focus on results and less on pampering. Guys want to know that something is worth investing in. That it works. Once you capture a male client – he is an amiable customer who will trust your opinion and purchase readily. Men are very focused on results – deliver these and you will have a client for life.

Mark Smith a.k.a. The Spa Man writes for a variety of magazines including European Spa Magazine, Tatler, Men’s Fitness, The Spa Traveller and Asia Spa. He visits spas across the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia and gives his unique take on the spa industry via his blog:


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