Saturday, 25 June 2011 18:55

Creating the Ideal Retail Mix

Written by   Melnda Minton

Selling retail is an essential part of a well run spa. This is true not only because the additional revenue is so crucial to a spa's bottom line, but also because prescriptive hom care is the necessary second step to the professional care given to a client in the spa. While mastering the retail sale can be difficult from a team or individual perspective, there are methods for making your spa's retail routine hum.

Your Spa’s Style
Oftentimes spas try to sell a bit of everything in an attempt to accommodate everyone. This can be a fatal error. The more fragmented your retail mix the more clients and staff will be confused. There must be a driving force behind your spa philosophy. Are you primarily a spa focused in on medical skin care, contouring services, water therapies, or all organic non-ablative therapies? Before you can determine the best retail mix for your spa, you really need to dig deep and understand your theme, focus, and primary therapeutic offerings. Moreover, remember that if you can’t get the product on them in the treatment room—there is a much smaller chance that the client will be taking the product home with them for further use when not at the spa. Integrating the treatment experience with the retail experience is crucial. When determining your retail mix, be cognizant of your client. Do you primarily offer clinical services or is your treatment mix somewhat more “fluffy” or gift-oriented?

The Mix
Consumers will frequent your spa for a variety of reasons. Their tastes are as diverse as snowflakes are unique. Neatly offering a cohesive blend of well known brands, signature label, gifts, and sundries will fill the appetites of those spa-goers requesting a variety of offerings both for themselves and others.
The Brand Approach- A well known brand is excellent for attracting walk-by would be customers, creating a trusted and legitimate presence for the new client or reluctant spa-goer. By prominently displaying a recognizable line in the front window, walk-in clients are more apt to drop by to pick up product or to make an appointment for a brand-related aesthetic treatment. Allowing some brands to infiltrate your spa allows for the timid or unsure group of spa-goers to reach their comfort level by requesting a well known, classic service featuring that brand. In other words, they want the McDonalds’ security that every facial, massage, and spa service in between will meet their expectations. They want to know what to expect with no surprises. Furthermore, brands can assist a spa with merchandising, training, samples, and co-op advertising. Additionally, some consumers strongly prefer branded products while others will only purchase a particular brand of choice that they have used over a period of time.
Private Label- Creating a signature line of products is a lucrative way to expand your brand presence while also significantly increasing your spa’s bottom line. It is authoritative to present the client with a signature line of products created just for your facility, climate, and therapeutic focus. Furthermore, because the cost of goods sold is so much less than the backbar invested in a branded service treatment, services featuring signature products can be more value priced, while assuring the highest standards of care for the client. This means that the client actually can receive much more for their dollar spent while also allowing them to invest in home care to maintain the professional gains attained at the spa during their service or series of therapies. That extra profit margin can go to enhanced commissions and bonus programs to those technicians displaying robust sales and client retention ratios. Finally, private label can enhance your budget to offer samples more generously; create unique color cosmetic palates and pick and choose among custom skin and body care formulations, semi-custom formulations, and re-packaged items that have historically been top sellers. Although creating a signature retail and treatment presence may seem daunting, the rewards that flow from the initial investment in time, printed materials and displays far outweigh the time spent creating your brand’s unique footprint.
Gifting- Offering small groupings of top selling gift items is lucrative, convenient for the client, and measurably contagious. There are many ways to offer opportunities for gifting within the spa environment. Displaying gift cards and gift packages with gift certificates is a way of suggesting the addition of a tangible item to accompany the later reward of a visit to the spa. Miniature catalogs for Secretary’s Day, birthdays, Christmas, and Mother’s Day make ordering gift baskets and gift certificates convenient and trouble free. Displaying gift wrap, gift cards, and simple yet elegant gift kits, baskets, and packages place the thought in the minds of spa-goers and walk-in traffic to purchase gifts no matter the occasion at the spa.
Impulse Purchasing- Offering items such as sun block in the summer, hand balm in the spring, and lip balm in the winter are easy last minute temptations for the spa guest or retail shopper. Likewise, candles, music, fun t-shirts, and energetic jewelry are all big sellers both as gifts and for the guest’s use and pleasure as the checkout process is finalized. Travel kits and small sampler packages are also big sellers for both gifting and for self care and should be kept in plentiful supply near the checkout area. Featuring lines per season in display cases and in your front window with promotional service series sales also work wonders when driving both service and retail sales on the spur of the moment.

Making the Sale
Get it on them! If you can’t get the product on the client you will never make a sale. Accordingly, services must feature potential home care items. Talking the client through each service with an explanation of the items used, purpose, results offered, and home care options is a crucial service step when interacting in the treatment room. Similarly offering samples to clients in the mail, at soirees, and after treatments is a forward thinking step when attempting to increase retail sales.
Conduct Contests- Making the process of selling fun and rewarding can create an environment of energy and productivity. Consider offering cash rewards or immediately redeemable gifts like lunch, dinner, a shopping spree, or a coveted professional tool or kit. Freely handing out even the smallest of cash rewards (think $5 bills) makes a busy Saturday fly by and keeps spirits high. Creating goal specific contests like specific retail sales competitions; service sale add-on targets, and pre-booking targets are all manageable and profit worthy accomplishments to track and reward.
Individualize Training- Not everyone is a natural salesperson. In fact, some of your most talented team members may struggle with pre-booking, self promotion, and retail sales. Zeroing in on each technician’s strengths, weaknesses, and professional passions typically assist greatly in helping those who are shy, new to the spa, or simply awkward at sales flourish in their individual way. Try focusing on those items that the technician truly believes in or personally uses. Try to zero in on the traits that make that particular technician uniquely appealing to clients. Appeal to each technician’s unique personality, skill sets, ability to empathize, and relate to each client and their particular goals and internal rewards system.

If they don’t see it, relate to it, touch it, smell it, and feel it… you haven’t done your job. Merchandising such small items can be tricky. However, what are you really selling? You are promoting a feeling, a way of life, and an image. Perhaps, in a spa, you are also promoting a cathartic renewal of self, a remedy for a particular malady such as bad skin or a leap into a new lifestyle, image, or attitude. No matter the particular circumstances, you are creating the opportunity for the individual to enhance their current state. So, keep this in mind when displaying product. You aren’t just selling frangipani fragrance oil, you are selling an excursion to Hawaii. You aren’t merely promoting an anti-aging product, you are launching a new career, relationship, journey, or lifestyle management program. The end result is the image that the product represents. Make sure that you are selling the illusory end product along with the particular item or line.
Furthermore, market and merchandise on multiple levels. This involves a grand understanding of your target market. Some may be the coveted “boomers” and yet others may be the up and coming twenty-somethings of a new generation of spa-goers. Each group require different price points, products, and approaches to self care. Creating a retail mix that supports this will drive service sales and make everyone happy when the time comes to purchase retail. Likewise, some spa-goers will be happy to purchase items via self guidance while others will want to be led through the various options for purchase preferring instead to be guided through various skin systems, makeup tips, and professional recommendations.
No matter how you outlay the options, retail sales are a must to create the opportunity for clinical success when the client is not able to enjoy a professional service at the spa. The retail component of the spa further adds convenience, comfort, and a shopping territory for your guests to enjoy opportunities for self care, gifting, and more. Creating a pleasing retail mix that is easy to navigate is a must for your business to flourish, retain clients, and establish a happy foundation of clients who will return time and time again for the retail mix that they have grown to appreciate and enjoy.

Melinda Minton is president of Minton Business Solutions, a marketing and spa consulting agency in Fort Collins, Colo. A licensed massage therapist, aesthetician, cosmetologist, and former spa owner with an MBA in marketing, Minton works with spas in product positioning, start-ups, profitability strategies, and publicity/marketing campaigns. She is founder of The Spa Association (SPAA), and has written for numerous trade and consumer publications. Reach Minton at 970-226-6145 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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