New ISPA research shines spotlight on consumers’ spa habits and concerns

The International Spa Association (ISPA) Foundation has released the 11th volume of its Consumer Snapshot initiative titled New Era, New Consumer.

The study sought to examine the habits, attitudes and expectations of consumers as they consider the pandemic’s lingering effects and continue to evaluate concerns surrounding their physical and mental wellbeing.

The initiative surveyed 1,000 people across the US during March 2022 and, as in previous years, was conducted in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The survey establishes a wide spectrum of habits, concerns and preferences for both spa-goers and non-spa-goers, evaluating them in the context of respondents’ income levels, age and gender.

Spa Business has wrapped up the key findings from the report below.

A new era of consumers
Results suggest the pandemic and its effects have inspired a new wave of consumers to make their way to spas, with nearly six in 10 (58 per cent) of current spa-goers surveyed stating that they visited a spa for the first time at some point in the last two years.

Moreover, nearly half (48 per cent) of current spa-goers reported visiting a spa for the first time specifically as a result of the pandemic. Almost eight in 10 respondents who said they’re going to the spa more often also indicated that they first visited because of the pandemic.

Combined with respondents’ apparent dedication to their health and wellbeing (65 per cent of spa-goers noted they’ll focus more on their health and wellbeing now), these figures suggest the industry is in a strong position.

“Consumer attitudes, like so much else, have shifted significantly in the last two-plus years,” said ISPA president Lynne McNees.

“This research provides insight into those shifts and will allow our members to make data-driven decisions for their businesses as they seek to bring the benefits of spa to more people and continue the industry’s robust recovery.”

Motivation behind spa visits
The study also explored respondents’ top reasons for visiting a spa and found that improving appearance (24 per cent) came out on top. This was closely followed by 17 per cent stating that reducing or relieving stress was their primary motivator for a visit.

Findings highlight there was some variation in these responses between genders, with female respondents more likely to visit to relieve stress but men choosing to do so to improve their appearance.

To keep a balanced outlook, researchers also investigated factors that contribute to individuals’ reluctance to visit a spa. Across the board, the cost was the top issue for current spa-goers (40 per cent), non-spa-goers (54 per cent) and lapsed spa-goers (57 per cent).

Other frequently cited factors include not having enough time to visit a spa, concerns about COVID-19 and a lack of comfort in spas or familiarity with spa etiquette.

Cost also played a part in causing availability issues – even for regular spa-goers – as 31 per cent reported they faced a price that went beyond what they were willing to pay.

Similar numbers of spa-goers faced availability issues booking a spa appointment due to being unable to get the time slot they wanted (35 per cent) and not getting the day they wanted (30 per cent).

These latter issues most likely relate to the well-documented staffing challenges facing the spa industry.

However, the report shows spa-goers have sought out alternatives to ensure they get their wellness fix, including booking at a less desirable time, booking a different type of service, making appointments at other spas or trying at-home treatment options instead of (or in addition to) a traditional spa visit.

The report concludes: “Ultimately, the data in this report reveals spa-goers to have a positive outlook on the future and an increased level of attention to their health and wellbeing, which suggests an opportunity for the spa industry to serve their needs and, as a result, continue the industry’s strong recovery from the lows seen in 2020.”

To check out more insights, ISPA members can access the full New Era, New Consumer report online. Head to ISPA’s official website to learn more.


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