24 Feb 2021 HCM Handbook
 

HOME
VIEW DIGITAL EDITION
CONTENTS
PROFILES
BUY HANDBOOK
JOBS
NEWS
PRODUCTS
ADVERTISE
CONTACT US
Sign up for FREE ezine
Current issue
HCM Handbook
Current issue

View this issue online
Buy print edition
Download PDF

Previous issues
Health club Handbook
2018 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Health club Handbook
2017 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Health club Handbook
2016 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Health club Handbook
2015 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Health club Handbook
2014 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Health club Handbook
2013 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Health club Handbook
2012 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Health club Handbook
2011 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Health club Handbook
2010 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Health club Handbook
2009 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Health Club Management Handbook - Generational Shift

North America Research

Generational Shift


ISPA’s 9th annual Consumer Snapshot Initiative looks at the differences between generations when it comes to spa-going. Russell Donaldson and Mia Carter of PricewaterhouseCoopers explain the findings

Older generations are less likely to spend at retail in the spa: 43% of Baby Boomers made no retail purchase shutterstock_By wavebreakmedia
The vast majority – 91% – of those interviewed agreed that they felt comfortable during their spa experience shutterstock
shutterstock/A StockStudio
shutterstock/A StockStudio
The oldest of the Gen Z generation are now in their early 20s and visiting spas shutterstock

Spa-goers today represent a wide range of generations – each with their own needs – and spa owners and operators today are faced with a generational shift, as millennials and Gen X are now showing the biggest spending power, while Gen Z is hot on their heels to be tomorrow’s driving force for the way spas do business.

In ISPA’s latest Consumer Snapshot Study, we’ve unmasked some of the biggest trends in this generational shift, and found four big traits about the generations that stand out from the study.

1. Millennials and Gen X have the strongest spending power and are more likely to perceive the spa as an opportunity for a ‘digital detox’
Encouragingly for the industry as a whole, consumer spending on treatments and retail in spas is strong. Looking at the data through a generational lens shows that it is millennials and Gen X who are currently the industry’s biggest spenders, with the highest spend on treatments, retail and gift cards compared with other generations. More than half of millennial and Gen X spa-goers reported spending US$80+ on treatments on their most recent visit (56 per cent and 53 per cent respectively), while 72 per cent and 68 per cent said they also purchased a retail product at the spa. Overall, Baby Boomers and the Greatest Generation appear to be the generations least likely to spend: 43 per cent and 69 per cent respectively made no retail purchase on their most recent visit, by comparison.

The study also explored consumer attitudes to using personal technology (namely smartphones) within the spa environment – an ever prickly subject. The majority of consumers (89 per cent) feel the balance is right when it comes to how strict or lenient technology policies currently are. However, looking at the nuances between generations reveals that millennials (14 per cent) and Gen X (12 per cent) are slightly more likely than the other groups to feel that technology policies do not allow enough privacy.

Moreover, over a third of both millennials (36 per cent) and Gen X (34 per cent) feel that a technology ban would make a spa more attractive – considerably higher than Gen Z consumers (22 per cent). This could be a sign that these stressed and overworked millennials and Gen X consumers appreciate the opportunity to switch off at a spa in pursuit of a ‘digital detox’ more so than younger generations.

2. Gen Z are a coming force, but spas need to make them comfortable now to ensure they keep coming
Just as millennials have become a powerful force in the economy, another younger generation will inevitably follow, and soon purchasing power will shift downwards to the so-called ‘Gen Z’ – those born from 1996 to the present. The oldest of this generation are now in their early 20s, and as they age up and accrue more spending power, it will be useful for spas to be aware of what appeals to this coming generation. In the same way that spas were able to capitalise on the needs of millennials, there will undoubtedly be a sizable opportunity for spas with a strong offering catered to the needs of Gen Z.

As a place of relaxation, it goes without saying that spa-goers should feel comfortable and welcome when visiting a spa. Overwhelmingly, the vast majority of spa-goers interviewed agreed that they felt comfortable during their spa experience (91 per cent) and that staff acted professionally (92 per cent). Most spa-goers noted that they were asked their preferences before their treatment (85 per cent) and were aware that the spa had stated procedures and protocols (83 per cent).

While at an overall level, the numbers show spa-goers feel very comfortable with their experiences, looking at the figures from a generational perspective demonstrates some interesting differences between Gen Z and the other generations, with consistently lower scores for Gen Z in this area.

Where the industry has seen millennials progress to join Gen X as the bigger-spending consumers in spas, an important question lies in what can be done to continue to make Gen Z feel more comfortable and support that group as the ‘up and coming’ spa-going generation. The role of the service provider can be crucial here, in both being attentive to their needs and ensuring that the end-to-end experience is as comfortable as possible.

3. The research shows that Gen Z find value in sharing their spa experience with friends
More than half of the spa-goers interviewed reported visiting the spa alone (55 per cent) on their most recent visit. Gen Z, however, are the most likely to visit with a group of friends (30 per cent) – this figure then drops moving up different generations through millennials (24 per cent), Gen X (17 per cent), Baby Boomers (12 per cent) and the Greatest Generation (11 per cent). This suggests that Gen Z may find value in the spa to be a shared experience, as a way of connecting with friends. More obviously, they are the generational group most likely to visit the spa with parents or family, providing a good opportunity for spas to make an impression on these young consumers and capture their interest early on.

4. Surprisingly, there are no generational differences in spa treatment booking preferences
When looking at how spa-goers prefer to book appointments, it appears that the traditional methods are still more popular than more modern digital appointment-making methods. A striking finding is that the data does not demonstrate many differences between the generations when it comes to booking preferences. While Gen Z are true digital natives who, from earliest youth have been exposed to the internet, social networks, and mobile systems, they seem no more likely to use digital methods for booking an appointment than any other generation (44 per cent prefer booking over the phone and 28 per cent prefer booking in person vs. 44 per cent and 27 percent respectively at an overall level).

More strikingly, on average only 2 per cent of spa-goers are using apps to book spa treatments, which is mostly consistent across generations. With the ever-increasing advancements in mobile technology, and an increase in innovative mobile spa businesses, it is now more important than ever for spas to consider how they can update their infrastructure to take the pressure off manual traditional services.

The generational analysis and the corresponding nuances in consumer behavior and attitudes are an important focus of ISPA’s Consumer Snapshot Initiative. The ninth edition of the study contains a wealth of data on the spa-going experience and the customer’s journey through the spa. The latest survey results highlight how the generational shift continues to transform the consumer landscape and showcases many opportunities for spas to better cater for their clientele. Millennial and Gen X consumers predominantly hold the balance of power currently, but the industry shouldn’t lose sight of Gen Z as a force in the years to come. Spa professionals must think about how they can deliver value for this emerging consumer group and capitalise from new ways of increasing revenue.

Table 1:

Generational breakdown of spa-goers in the latest Consumer Snapshot Study

Source: ISPA Consumer Snapshot Study

Table 2:

Agreement statements

(Respondents were asked to rate these statements on a scale of one to five where ‘one’ means ‘strongly disagree’ and five means ‘strongly agree’. Figure shown is the % who rated the statement as ‘four’ or ‘five’.)

Source: ISPA Consumer Snapshot Survey

Table 3:

How do people visit a spa?

Table 4:

Preferred booking methods by generation

Source: ISPA Consumer Snapshot Survey

About the ISPA Consumer Snapshot Initiative

For nearly a decade, ISPA’s Consumer Snapshot has been producing invaluable quantitative data for the spa industry, testing consumers’ behaviors, attitudes and preferences. The findings are significant for spa professionals, providing vital information on consumer behavior and new insights on emerging opportunities that could strengthen the spa economy. This year’s study – the ninth – interviewed 1,000 spa-goers (defined as people who have visited a spa in the last 12 months) and captured responses from a broadly representative cross-section of the US population.

An important part of the survey analysis is highlighting the differences between different generational groups – a vital source of information for spas to learn about the habits of their current customers, as well as to get a step ahead on the industry’s next big trend.

About the authors:
Russell Donaldson & Mia Carter

Russell Donaldson is a manager in PwC’s research centre of excellence, based in Belfast, UK. He works largely on thought leadership research across a range of industries from government to the legal sector to the spa industry. He has worked with ISPA on their research program since 2014.

Mia Carter is an Insight Associate in the PwC Research team based in London and has experience conducting both qualitative and quantitative research. Mia works across a variety of sectors including retail, media and financial services.


Originally published in HCM Handbook 2019 edition

Published by The Leisure Media Company, Portmill House, Portmill Lane, Hitchin, Herts SG5 1DJ. Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | Advertise | © Cybertrek Ltd