10 Spa and Wellness Business Trends in 2021
By Lisa Starr
I’d like to say that we’ll never experience another year like 2020, and I hope I’m correct. The year of “perfect vision” turned out to be anything but, as it became impossible to predict what would happen next in the COVID time machine. Mix in civil unrest, election-year shenanigans, and general discontent with constant change, and that sums it up. Never mind the difficulties purchasing paper towels and toilet paper, just try procuring previously low-demand items such as home fitness equipment, bicycles, small home desks, food processors, or even adopting a pet!
But while 2020 was brutal in many aspects for personal care businesses as well as personal life, there are some definite “humankind” positives moving forward as people have adapted, enjoying more time with family and embracing wellness like never before.
As spas began to reopen across the US in the second half of the year, clients were flocking in. Worries that consumers would be fearful of human touch were unfounded. In fact, it was quite the opposite. The tolls of social distancing, working from home, and widespread lockdowns created a strong desire for human connection that spas were happy to accommodate. Despite curbside check-ins, temperature-taking, mask-wearing, and waiver requirements, clients filled the books of available treatments.
Between mid-October and mid-November, Mindbody launched the 2021 Wellness Index, surveying nearly 20,000 Americans. An amazing 78% of them said that wellness is now more important than ever—definitely good news for spas moving forward. Taking a look at what we see and hear across the country, and mixing in the data from our survey, here's what we think spas should be planning for in 2021.
Immunity-boosting treatments will see a boost
Sixty percent of those who are more focused on welllness now say the pandemic has made them realize they need to be healthier to withstand disease or illness. Armed with a newfound awareness of their personal role in maintaining wellness, clients will be very interested in immunity-boosting treatments and products, both for spa and home use. While the spa can only do so much in the allotted time of a visit, educating guests on how to continue at home will be key. Some options include lymphatic drainage treatments, infrared saunas and contrast therapy, acupuncture, massage, the use of aromatherapy, and anything that stimulates circulation. Products that promote gut health and support the microbiome will also be of major interest. Much of this is not necessarily new, but the effects of these treatments will be more sought after than was the case pre COVID.
Say hello to low-touch treatments
A lesson was learned this year of the importance of diversifying your revenue stream, to the extent possible. E-commerce was a great way to maintain contact with clients, but we still can’t deliver spa treatments over the internet. Consider adding some low-touch treatment options to your menu and facility so that guests who are still shy about personal contact have a reason to visit. These could include amenities such as sauna and wet areas, halotherapy rooms, cryotherapy, guided meditation or meditation domes, LED therapies, and flotation. Thirty-one percent say they’re eager to try these services now, and as awareness of these grows, expect interest to as well.
Memberships join the club
For those spending more time on wellness, the number one reason is to reduce stress. Subscription and membership models are an ideal way for stressed Americans to commit to relaxing services—and themselves. Membership-based business models continue to show strength, and for many spas, provided a much-needed lifeline of cash flow through the summer. Offering a wellness membership with access to amenities will be very popular in 2021, but don’t overlook the basic monthly massage, body treatment, and/or facial options, perhaps with the added bonus of products for home-use.
Spa retreats will be a treat for companies working remotely
Many companies are continuing to have staff work from home for the immediate future. During this pandemic, we've seen how important it is to feel connected with colleagues. Spas and hospitality venues could find a niche in hosting small spa retreats, especially those that combine a bit of work with some wellness-building activities. The majority of Americans believe that wellness brings people together; what better way for co-workers to spend quality time together than at a spa?
The future is female (tech)
Fasten your seat belts; based on what I'm seeing in my work in the industry, sexual wellness and a category called femtech are expected to continue to surge in interest as women feel empowered and are more focused on their wellness. While this category includes fertility health and reproductive system care, spas can play a role with pre- and post-menopausal treatments and products that focus on women’s health.
Social networks will continue to work for marketing
On the marketing front, social networks continue to shine front and center, as quarantining and lockdowns have forced consumers to stay at home. While those restrictions will lessen as the year goes on, the habits of scrolling Instagram and Facebook will remain, so be sure to have a vibrant digital media plan to keep consumers engaged with your business even when they're not visiting. Advice, workshops, product recommendations, and how-tos will provide compelling video content and encourage sharing. Digital detoxes will have to wait for next year!
Maskne has brought more focus to skin health
As mask wearing will continue for the time being, a focus on overall skin health and “above-the-mask” treatments will be of interest to your guests. Healthy, glowing skin from exfoliants, peels, LED and microcurrent treatments, beautifully groomed brows, and lash extensions help clients to feel more attractive as we stare at ourselves all day on Zoom calls. Face yoga anyone?
Spas look to incorporate mental wellness
According to the Global Wellness Institute, the size of the mental wellness market now outweighs spas, at $121 billion dollars. Through workshops, treatments, and apps, spas can introduce clients to a variety of self-improvement and mindfulness practices including getting more restful sleep, learning to focus and meditate, and using supplements and functional foods to nourish brain health. There's plenty of interest, too. Nearly a quarter of Americans (23%) have either started meditating or are meditating more since the pandemic began. (Compare that to the 22% who say they've been drinking more.)
We've outgrown our quarantine quarters
We've been cooped up for too long. Nature has long been known for restorative powers, and now that we’ve all been spending more time outside, we have the buy-in of our clients. Interest in green products, plant-based formulations, and biophilic design in spas will continue to grow. When weather permits, open your windows!
Safety continues to be of utmost importance
It’s not possible to visit a business either through physical or digital means without hearing about its COVID-19 safety and hygiene practices, and that will continue through 2021. Americans are looking for things to go touchless wherever possible and want to see staff and other clients following safety measures.
Many sage business leaders have noted that 2020 brought us 10 years of digital and business practice advancement in 10 months. Now, we need to consider which of the many new customer habits will stick around—at least through 2021. There's no denying the wellness and spa industry has more consumer attention and interest than ever before, so we need to be sure to maximize the opportunity.
One of my favorite results from the Mindbody Wellness Index is that 66% of the respondents agreed that wellness brings people together—let’s make sure they’re coming together in our spas!