Spa Marketing: Teen Scene

Why wait for these potential clients to turn 21, when you can win their business and loyalty now?

ThinkStock

As you seek out new ways to market your spa’s services and grow your business, the teen market can be an important part of your strategy. According to a 2012 report by global marketing and technology agency Digitas, teenagers boast some serious spending power—a whopping $1.2 trillion per year.

Furthermore, this group has considerable influence in household spending, with 71% of parents saying they solicit their children’s opinion on how their family spends money.

But while making this fresh-faced generation a part of your regular clientele can clearly be a boon for business, how do you market to these youngsters when they’re more accustomed to instant gratification and quick fixes than disciplined skincare regimens and regular facials?

DAYSPA spoke to a few marketing savvy pros, who offered tips on how to attract this latest wave of spa-goers and turn them into loyal, skin-wise patrons who keep coming back.

1. Ask questions. Understanding how a teen client thinks and behaves is the first step in structuring services that will draw him or her in and also deliver tangible results. “I always start with a conversation about lifestyle—eating habits, level of activity, current skincare regimen, and so on,” says Ildi Pekar, founder and owner of Ildi Pekar Skincare spa in New York City. Get teens’ input by listening to their concerns and learning what they’ve tried in the past, says Nancy Trent, president of New York City-based PR and marketing firm, Trent and Company. “In some cases, this works best with a checklist that the teen fills out and reviews with the esthetician. This can be particularly helpful with guys, who may have a harder time talking about what they hope to gain from the spa experience,” says Trent.

2.Treat accordingly. Although teens are frequently dealing with acne and related skin issues such as excessive oil, don’t assume that these are their only concerns. “Teens are often prone to excessive dryness caused by a lack of moisturizing,” points out Pekar, who often adds a moisturizing component (such as a mask) to her teen acne facials. Sandy Miller, director of marketing at Burke Williams in Los Angeles, emphasizes how the spa’s Teen Facial incorporates a personalized evaluation and drives home the importance of a well-rounded skincare regimen. “We combine the treatment with a free gift and one-on-one instruction from an esthetician on how the client can keep her skin looking great between facials,” says Miller. “It’s all about helping her to achieve healthy skin.”

3. Educate. Although today’s teens are used to quick-fix products that promise automatic results, as a spa owner, you know this is not how quality skin care works. Informing the next generation on the importance of developing healthy skin habits now is a vital part of the treatment process. “Being a teen is hard, and I think we all remember what it was like when we had our first breakout, or how uncomfortable we felt about our appearance,” says Susan Storey, communications director for Scooops Kid Spa Salon in Madison, Wisconsin. “A great way to help teens feel better about themselves is to empower them—give them information on how to treat and prevent skin flare-ups and adopt good skincare habits in general.”

Diane Hibbard, Burke Williams’ skincare director, says the spas’ estheticians are specially trained to work with teens and understand their specific needs and concerns. “Dispelling myths about breakouts, teaching good hygiene and educating teens on the connection between stress and skin eruptions are some of the ways our staff supports this young market,” she explains.

Licensed esthetician Laurie Webb of Waterfalls Day Spa in Middlebury, Vermont, also enjoys the educational aspect of working with teens. “Teens are willing to learn about skin care from a reliable source providing information in a relaxing spa setting. At this age, they’re typically not keen on listening to a parent’s advice, so the spa is the perfect place to start a dialogue.”

4. Seize marketing opportunities. Offering specials for parents and teens to come in and enjoy their individual services with additional time to unwind together can be a good “in” to attract the younger client. “We’ve found that having the mom and her teen together helps transition the daughter into feeling comfortable at the spa,” says Webb. “We offer side-by-side massages, and dual pedicures and facials to allow for some mother-daughter bonding time. We do a lot of subtle things, like have them sit together without interruption before the service begins or bring the mom in at the right time to talk about skincare solutions for the teen with the esthetician, and let conversations happen organically.”

Want to create a little PR buzz? Trent recommends connecting with young local celebrities or star athletes in your community. Reach out to teens who are accomplishing extraordinary things. Did a local girl just win the state tennis championship? Offer her a day at the spa to relax sore muscles and learn about skin care for an active lifestyle. Find out if the local spelling bee champ knows how to spell “esthetician” and invite her to the spa for a complimentary facial or mani/pedi. From there, you can issue a press release or even pitch the story to the local paper.

Prom and graduation are ideal times to draw teens into the spa. A facial performed a couple of weeks before a big event can help prevent a young client’s skin from breaking out and add to the excitement of the occasion.

5. Create the right ambiance. Do you offer designated times for teen appointments or dedicate a section of your spa to teen services? There are plenty of things you can do to transform your spa into a hip and happening haven:

  • Choose youthful décor. A fun, informal environment can be useful in attracting a batch of young spa-goers. “At Scooops, we create an ambiance that is bright, fun and inviting to the tween and early teen markets,” says Storey. “We feature whimsical seats in the shape of ice cream cones and oversized ‘banana split’ pedicure thrones, among other things.”
  • Turn up the tunes. Music is a vital part of youth culture and a powerful way to help teens relax and feel more at ease in your spa. Turn on some Top 40 tunes and let them play in the background. (Just make sure it is in a more secluded part of your spa, so as not to disrupt other clients.)
  • Create photo ops. Teens love posting photos, so use this to your advantage. Designate a space or room for photo opportunities that will allow teen clients to post photos of themselves having fun at your spa on Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr. Make sure you have active accounts set up so that young guests can “hashtag” your spa and boost your profile. You can even offer an iPad in the waiting area onto which teens can load photos of their experiences at the spa and invite other kids to respond. Trent says that while this can be an expensive investment initially, you may be able to find a local electronics store to coordinate some cross-promotion.

6. Party on. The new generation of spa-goers is one social bunch. Capitalize on this by pushing teen spa parties. Here are a few tips for making spa parties “take off”:

  • Sharing spa time with friends for group makeup instruction, skincare demonstrations and manicures can be a great holiday or birthday treat. It’s also a wonderful get-together opportunity for older teens going off to college or returning home for the holidays.
  • Everyone loves a little spa swag, and teens perhaps even more so! Nail polish, hair accessories and/or lip balm make great gift bag items that help them vtake the spa experience home (and won’t blow your budget).
  • Offer to take group photos that can be posted on social media sites such as Facebook or Instagram. You’ll need signed releases in most cases to post shots on the spa’s social media accounts, but you can include those in the initial paperwork everyone fills out. Again, having an iPad available makes this process easy and fun for your guests.
  • Sweeten the deal with some bite-sized snacks. Scooops Spa stays true to its theme by offering guests ice cream after a treatment. “We want to create the perfect place to celebrate the sweetest part of still being a kid,” says Storey.