2017 Trends from American Spa

This overview was sourced from the American Spa Magazine 2017 Trend Report. Click here to discover the full trend report.

The Trends for 2017

American Spa scoured trade shows, spas, research studies, and more, noting significant industry trends to prepare for their annual report. While they highlight a few trends that are certainly new to the marketplace, one thing that really stood out this year is that many of the experiences that are garnering attention in the spa are actually healing modalities with deep historic roots.

No matter whether these wellness trends are new, new-to-spa, or traditional trends experiencing a revival, they are all certainly making an impact on our industry.

1. Fermentation Phenomenon

As Korean beauty continues its skincare reign, one of its hottest subsets—fermented beauty—is making a major impact. A nod to Korea’s history of fermented food products, more and more fermented ingredients, including fruits, plants, herbs, and yeast, are appearing in masks, serums, and lotions. Fermented extracts within skincare products have many benefits, including calming and brightening the skin, as well as providing enhanced antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties—plus, the skin readily absorbs them. Traditional cosmetic processes utilize high temperatures to blend ingredients and actives, whereas fermented skincare is processed slowly in an oxygen-free environment where bad bacteria and toxins are unable to survive.

Established Western brands are jumping on the bandwagon: ESPA recently introduced two products with yeast bioferment, including Optimal Skin ProMoisturiser and Overnight Hydration Therapy; Murad’s Pore & Line Minimizing Hydrator contains kombucha; Fresh’s Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask is infused with fermented tea; and Dermalogica’s Breakout Control contains lactobacillus ferment. It’s an ancient practice that is making a major modern impact and shows no signs of stopping.

2. Tastemaker Task Force

With the power to sway, influencers are becoming a force to be reckoned with in the spa and beauty industries. Because social media has become such an integral part of a solid promotional plan, a new brand of marketing has emerged in the form of influencers, social media stars with mass followings whose positive opinions can result in massive sales.

When the iconic brand Elizabeth Arden decided it needed a brand makeover, it turned to influencer marketing to reach younger consumers. It enlisted the help of interns to research YouTube videos and search the internet for people with fewer than 10,000 followers. By reaching out to emerging influencers and giving them products to write about, the company created a successful grassroots marketing campaign.

“Remember that everyone who walks through your doors is an ‘influencer’ in some way, even if it’s just with his or her 10 instagram followers,” says Lauren Clifford Knudsen, senior vice president at J Public Relations (JPR). “Make it as easy as possible for them to be your brand ambassador.”

3. At Home With Wellness

According to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), a wellness community is “proactively developed with the holistic health of its residents, guests, the environment—both natural and built—and the local community in mind.” While not new, this concept is one that is thriving and expanding. In fact, according to GWI’s latest research, wellness lifestyle real estate, which includes residential, hospitality, and mixed-used properties that incorporate wellness elements into their design, construction, amenities, and services, grew 19 percent from 2013 to 2015 to become a $118.6 billion market.

These communities can take on many different forms, including spas, hotels, and retreats with residential components; master-planned communities; and neighborhoods and apartment complexes. One of the most well-known developments is Serenbe, a progressive community in Georgia that is home to more than 400 residents. Among its highlights are an organic farm, a seasonal Saturday Farmer’s Market, a thriving Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, and edible landscaping. It is also home to boutiques, art galleries, a spa, riding trails, cooking classes, workshops, and more.

As for the future, it’s certainly looking bright. Many other communities are currently in the works, including Avira and Boga Valley in Malaysia; Dromgarden in Sweden; Grow Community in Seattle; Destination Medical Center in Rochester, MN; Harvest in Argyle, TX; The Cannery in Davis, CA; and The District in Jacksonville, FL.

4. Night Moves

Sleep is a magic bullet for many things and can impact countless aspects of our health. Still, recent stats claim that as many as 40 million people in the U.S. have chronic sleep disorders, which presents spas with a unique opportunity to help and is resulting in a variety of therapies targeted to do so. “Rest allows the body to relax, detoxify, and regain its strength and helps the mind to rest and assimilate the many experiences accumulated during the day,” says Barbara Gavazzoli, international director of communication and education for Comfort Zone. “Modern society, with its frenetic pace, irregular routines, commuting, frequent traveling, eating on the run, and tight deadlines, gives rise to sleep disorders and even insomnia.”

Spas that help clients sleep and provide them with products that work well at night are poised to take best advantage of this trend. “Bottom line, there are tens of millions of people in America who are sleep deprived, and for them, no amount or kind of skincare alone will cure the damage of poor sleep to the skin,” says Robert Michael deStefano, cofounder and director of wellness for Longeva. “Exhausted is never anyone’s best look.”

5. Pop Stars

The proliferation of pop-up spas, which operate in temporary locations for a limited time, is introducing a dose of health and wellbeing in unexpected places and providing spa brands with a major marketing boost. “Pop-up spas have the opportunity to reach mass markets in highly populated areas and during highly attended events,” says Michael Tompkins, executive recruiter for Hutchinson Consulting and immediate past ISPA chairman.

Spa owners are recognizing the exposure to be gained from the concept. Starting as a pop-up spa company before opening a brick-and-mortar location, Oasis Day Spa (Dobbs Ferry, NY, and New York City) was one of the first to tap into the convenience pop-ups offer time-pressed consumers. “Time is such a precious commodity at major companies where relaxation and wellness services have exploded,“ says owner Bruce Schoenberg. “Employers recognize the value of keeping staff happy and productive, and pop-up spas have become ubiquitous in corporations. At special events, they are popular because they’re considered a luxe amenity.”

6. Healthy Infusions

IV therapy is proving to be just the shot in the arm that spa-goers crave to put them on the road to wellness. Popular among celebs, professional athletes, and wellness enthusiasts, booster shots and intravenous (IV) therapies, which infuse a cocktail of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients directly into the bloodstream, are giving spa-goers an extra dose of energy, immunity, and beauty benefits. As a result, IV clinics, pop-up locations, and spas are now offering a host of infusions that can be used to treat hangovers, jet lag, the common cold, dehydration, and more. While the treatment has been around for decades, it wasn’t until recently that consumers began embracing the therapy as another tool in the quest to improve health and wellbeing.

Even hotels are getting in on the action with The Thompson Chicago partnering with IVme Wellness + Performance of Chicago to offer guests the opportunity to schedule onsite IV treatments. NutriDrip, a brand of IV infusions, features pop-ups around New York City and often partners with other wellness companies, such as CryoSphere Cryotherapy and Higher Dose, which offers infrared sauna sessions.

Moving into the mainstream, IV therapy promises a quick fix for a host of ailments. It also gives health-conscious spa-goers an opportunity for self-care and is an ideal offering in an integrative spa setting.

7. Chain Effect

Spa franchises are flourishing, as established brands like Massage Envy, Massage Heights, and The Woodhouse Day Spa continue to expand. Massage Envy has even gone global, expanding this past year with the debut of its first international location in Sydney. Health and wellness continues to be a priority in spa-goers’ lives, so franchises that cater to such concerns are poised to continue to thrive and play a significant role in the spa industry. “This market is hungry for body-maintenance products and services, and in response, we’ve built a business model that makes them accessible and affordable,” says Joe Magnacca, CEO of Massage Envy. “As consumers become more aware of the long-term benefits of total-body care, we believe demand for our services will continue to increase.”

Not surprisingly, that’s exactly what is happening. There are now franchises specializing in massage, facials, waxing, cryotherapy, flotation therapy, and IV therapy, just to name a few. Of course, for the industry, franchises aren’t always welcome, as they serve as competition for both staff and clientele, since franchises often offer lower prices than stand-alone spas. However, what makes these franchises so attractive to spa-goers is consistency. Says Magnacca, “I predict we’ll see significant growth in the coming years as the trend toward wellness and total body care continues.”

8. Farm Fresh Beauty

Health-minded consumers are flocking to products that are created using fresh, natural ingredients. Simply put, this is a concept in which products are created “from seed to skin,” according to Sara LaBree, education and events manager, North America for Jurlique. “It is the process of farm-grown ingredients being harvested and put into product formulations without being overly processed or changing hands through multiple distributors. The longer the time and the more hands that touch fresh ingredients, the more of the nutrients and quality that are lost.”

For the most part, farm-to-skin products are free of preservatives and synthetics and created with natural, organic ingredients that are farmed sustainably either on-site or by local farmers. Jurlique products are formulated from ingredients culled from the company’s biodynamic and organic farm in Australia and Laurel Whole Plant Organics are made almost entirely with ingredients sourced from organic or biodynamic farms located within 100 miles of the company’s Sausalito, CA, production studio.

According to a study from Transparency Market Research, global demand for organic personal- care products, one-third of which are skincare products, is expected to reach $13.2 billion by 2018. “Knowledge is spreading about the toxins in conventional beauty care, and the desire to protect ourselves and our loved ones is pushing us back towards utilizing nature’s bounty,” says Laurel Shaffer, owner and formulator of Laurel Whole Plant Organics.

9. Ice Age

Reputed to reduce inflammation, cellulite, anxiety, pain, and more, whole-body cryotherapy is popping up in spas across the country, as people are paying top dollar to subject their bodies to bone-chilling temperatures for one to three minutes.

Professional athletes were the first to adopt this growing trend by trading their ice baths for cryochambers to help ease their aches and pains. KryoLife cofounder and CEO Joanna Fryben explains that, unlike an ice bath, cryotherapy positively impacts the nervous and endocrine systems. “Whole-body cryotherapy is much more potent, of much shorter duration, and much more comfortable for the user,” she says. “After an ice bath, muscle loses it capacity for some time.” Plus, with cryotherapy, you don’t get wet. Now, celebrities and spa-goers are hopping on the bandwagon, and it’s no surprise when you consider a single cryotherapy session is reputed to burn up to 800 calories and help with anti-aging and weight loss.

Today, spas and wellness clinics across the country are incorporating cryotherapy into their menus. In April 2015, The Spa at Sea Island (GA) began using Impact Cryotherapy equipment on its golfers. “We did a test with the professional golf community in our area, and it was a big hit,” says spa director Ella Stimpson.

10. Hope Floats

Making a splash among spa-goers, floatation therapy is undergoing a revival with a bounty of mind-body benefits. While most spa therapies are trying to engage the senses, flotation therapy actually works to soothe them. Considered by some to be a shortcut to meditation, floating in a warm saltwater pod allows the brain and body to rest and recover. As more and more research emerges about its many mind-body benefits, flotation therapy is growing in popularity and proving to be an effective treatment for those looking to go beyond mere relaxation.

According to David Berv, DC, co-owner of The Float Zone (Richmond, VA) and a passionate floater himself, floating has come a long way from when it was first considered merely a form of sensory deprivation. “In this era, flotation is now more aptly described as R.E.S.T., or restricted environmental stimulus therapy,” he says. Although a mouthful, the therapy has caught on thanks to today’s lack of downtime. “I think flotation is emerging as a trend due to the fact that we are a stressed out, 24/7 electronically connected and influenced society that is hungry for any lifestyle hacks that benefit sleep, stress, anxiety, and pain,” says Berv. With the importance of mindfulness, meditation, and sleep all taking center stage, people are looking for ways to truly disconnect. Inviting flotation pods make it easier than ever.

The benefits, which include reducing anxiety, improving sleep, sparking creativity, lowering heart rate, decreasing blood pressure, promoting mindfulness, aiding in muscle recovery, helping with depression, and more, are just some of the reasons float centers are popping up around the country.