What would a 30% increase in business mean for a spa owner? The ability to hire more staff? Expanding their location and offerings? Taking that long-awaited family vacation? Surely, those answers are obvious for most. The real question is “how?”
Business growth is pretty simple: increase the number of clients, increase spending per client, or, in a best-case scenario, combine the two. There is really nothing revolutionary about these concepts, but that does not mean that they are easy to pull off. So, how can a spa crack the growth code and achieve a 30% increase? By incorporating CBD into their practice, the right way.
THE CBD REVOLUTION
CBD stands for cannabidiol and has been the hottest health, wellness, and beauty industry buzzword for a little over a year now. Popularity skyrocketed when the country was educated around the benefits of CBD from hemp as a variation of medical cannabis that does not get an individual high or make them fail a drug test (more on this later). This revolutionary concept, medication without the intoxication, sparked a wave of entrepreneurship, primarily because CBD does not require any of the restrictive special licensing that its well-known cousin, medical marijuana containing THC, does, as long as the products are derived from industrial hemp and contain less than 0.3% THC.1
The Federal Farm Bill of 2014 started the hemp and CBD revolution and the 2018 Bill secured CBD’s place as the fastest growing health and wellness trend that is expected to continue well into the foreseeable future, nearly doubling every year.2 This incredible growth rate translates to a massive opportunity for those who implement CBD into their practice the right way. “What we’ve seen is an increase in non-traditional spa goers. Men that wouldn’t typically set foot in a spa are coming in for CBD massages or stopping in to buy product and spending money on gift cards or other services. Our clientele is so much more diverse than ever before,” said Deedee Helbig, owner of Ava Bella Day Spa in Little Rock, Arkansas.3 The first decision in implementing CBD is choosing the right brand for the practice.
PICKING A PARTNER
Selecting the right brand can be a daunting task. Professionals want to pick the right partner from the beginning, so they can focus on implementation, instead of constantly evaluating or having to change brands. New CBD companies are seemingly popping up and disappearing overnight. CBD sales representatives in major metro areas represent three to five brands at a time and are indifferent to building a lasting relationship and, worst of all, multi-level marketing pyramid schemes have entered the industry. So, what should a professional look for in a partner?
The first question to ask is, “Should I provide a product with THC or zero THC?” This is important to establish upfront because the worst-case scenario would be for clients to fail a drug test by unknowingly using a product that contains THC that was sold to them. That is right: unless specifically advertised as a zero THC product that is backed with third party lab testing, clients run the risk of failing a drug test. This is more relevant if retailing ingestible products, rather than just implementing CBD topicals as an add-on to existing services. When looking at cost, avoid isolate products and compare broad- and full-spectrum zero THC to other zero THC products. Also, compare price per milligram of CBD for ingestible products and compare the entire formulation of topicals. Lastly, consider the spa’s margin profile, as well as options for selling and delivery, including drop shipping for out-of-state customers.
The second point to consider is the brand’s products and how they fit with the spa’s offerings. Quality products are manufactured in the United States with organically grown hemp under good manufacturing processes. Products should also be non-GMO and cruelty-free. CBD is primarily sought after for pain and anxiety relief but there are a myriad of options ranging from pain creams and massage oils to face masks. It is important to find a company who has a topical and dietary line of products that match the spa’s needs. CBD massages are a core offering for spas, so only consider a company that allows the professional to test their massage oil before making a decision.
Lastly, consider the partner onboarding and ongoing support process. CBD is an evolving industry with new studies, benefits, and products being developed every day. Providing direct access to industry experts, educational material for staff, and ongoing social media support should be at the top of the priority list when selecting a partner. This is especially important, as the staff’s job is to run the business, not be experts in CBD.
Education is key. Clients will want to know about the product, the brand, and how it is used. For some of the staff, this conversation will be second nature because they already use CBD and are passionate about the benefits. For others, there will be some training needed. This is the second step after choosing the right brand and is crucial to success. The chosen partner should offer training, often in the form of in-person and virtual recorded trainings (so new staff can watch easily) or through documents that answer important questions. It is also important to note that the FDA’s opinion of CBD falls under commercial speech and staff should not be making medical claims on benefits or miracle cures. A checklist for educating the team should include basic knowledge around:
- what CBD is and why people use it
- conversation starters for add-on services
- conversation starters following services for retail sales
- brand and quality information, such as source, testing, THC content, dosages, and use cases
Staff should go through multiple trainings and try the products or receive CBD massages themselves. They should also be able to answer clients’ questions or know where to find the answers. That level of partnership will help with retail and add-on sales.
“CBD massage add-ons are some of our most popular services,” said Helbig. “We’ve seen people come in for their first massage ever, just because it was a CBD massage.”3 People are mainly interested in the anti-inflammatory qualities of CBD as an all-natural alternative to opioids, but there is also a growing interest in using CBD for anxiety relief.4 These two main benefits fit perfectly to create the ultimate relaxation day at the spa. The spa’s CBD partner should be able to help staff with the CBD massage upsell so that it will eventually come naturally.
The CBD massage should be seen as an anchor offering, but not as the only economic driver to the business. Remember, the goal is to increase number of clients while also increasing what each client spends per visit. Using CBD massages as a marketing tool will drive new foot traffic, satisfying the first growth goal. Ten dollars is the typical going rate, depending on location, for a CBD add-on.
Something some spas are seeing now is clients’ desire to ingest CBD internally before a service. This provides an opportunity to sell an introductory five-day dose of tincture to consume before the massage and keep afterwards. “After an amazing massage, wonderful night’s rest, and three to four days of reduced pain and anxiety, we typically see customers coming back in to buy a 30-day supply,” said Helbig.3 Interestingly, this can also lead to clients buying services more frequently, satisfying growth goal number two. The icing on the cake is implementing a plan to provide a monthly sales service. Set clients up for auto-purchase or auto-reminders where they can come into the spa and pick up products at a slightly discounted rate. Having clients come into the spa, versus shipping their products, opens up the opportunity to upsell a service while they are in the spa.
Using CBD for recovery from skin procedures provides additional marketing opportunities. CBD supports the skin’s ability to naturally heal itself as a post-procedure product. This is due to its anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as its antibacterial qualities.5 Introducing CBD as a recovery product with skin care will increase the likelihood that someone will try a procedure and that they will purchase a retail product to use for homecare and recovery.
Also, do not underestimate the value of word of mouth. Never be afraid to ask someone who loves CBD, or any service provided, if they know someone who would also benefit.
CBD marketing does not follow conventional social media rules. Facebook, Instagram, and Google will not allow promotion of CBD in social media posts because they are global platforms and CBD is not legal in all countries where Facebook and Google operate. This provides a unique opportunity, as well as some unique challenges. Ava Bella Day Spa solved this problem by getting people talking about CBD with experts through:
- a Q&A session on a drive time sports radio show
- social media live videos posted to their Facebook page
- requesting top customers and CBD users to re-share posts
- sharing customer success stories and requesting reviews on Google and Facebook when a client enjoyed a service
- asking clients to share their experience with their friends
- demonstrating CBD add-on services on local news
All of these marketing tactics may seem simple but word of mouth can be a strong business driver for CBD. Get people talking and sharing and the business will continue to grow. Being unable to promote social media posts does make it more difficult but, using these tactics, the spa’s messaging becomes more like a community with feedback, which will drive increased interaction and sales over time.
To drive new clients into the spa and increase spending per customer while incorporating CBD into the spa, professionals will see the most impact to their overall business by partnering with the right brand, educating staff on an ongoing basis, implementing a rollout plan for services and retail sales, creating re-occurring sales motion, and applying effective marketing strategies.
The CBD market is set to nearly double every year through 2022. Following these steps, any professional will find more than their fair share of this exciting new industry, all while helping people feel their absolute best.
1 Stein, Jeff. “Congress just passed an $867 billion farm bill. Here’s what’s in it.” The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2018/12/11/congresss-billion-farm-bill-is-out-heres-whats-it/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.47f71b0c82c3.
2 “Total U.S. cannabidiol (CBD) consumer sales from 2014 to 2022 (in million U.S. dollars). statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/760498/total-us-cbd-sales.
3 Helbig, DeeDee. (owner, Ava Bella Day Spa).
4 “ANXIETY What is an Anxiety Disorder?” Project CBD. https://www.projectcbd.org/cbd-for/anxiety.
5 Xie, Yun. “Killing bacteria with cannabis.” Ars Technica. 2008. https://arstechnica.com/science/2008/08/killing-bacteria-with-cannabis.