Staying in the Spa Marketing Game: Trends, Challenges, Strategies and Techniques

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Journal of Vacation Marketing

Staying in the spa marketing game: Trends, challenges, strategies and techniques Kimberly R. McNeil and Edna J. Ragins Journal of Vacation Marketing 2005 11: 31 DOI: 10.1177/1356766705050841 The online version of this article can be found at:

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Journal of Vacation Marketing

Volume 11 Number 1

Staying in the spa marketing game: Trends, challenges, strategies and techniques Kimberly R. McNeil* and Edna J. Ragins Received (in revised form): May 2004 *North Carolina A&T State University, School of Business and Economics, 1601 E. Market Street, Greensboro, NC 27411, USA Tel: +1 336-334-7656 ext. 5004; Fax: +1 336-334-7093; E-mail:

Dr Kimberly R. McNeil is an assistant professor of marketing in the School of Business and Economics at North Carolina A&T State University. She currently teaches courses in marketing and consumer behaviour. Her research interests include the effects of demographics, psychographics and marketing communications on consumers’ behaviours. She is currently researching in the travel, leisure, and service arenas. Dr Edna J. Ragins is an associate professor of marketing in the School of Business & Economics at North Carolina A&T State University. She is actively involved in teaching, service and research. Her research interests include consumer behaviour, marketing communications and marketing education. Her research has been published in various journals and conference proceedings.

The authors highlight current issues and trends in the US spa industry. Strategies and techniques for spa marketers to combat potential challenges are suggested under the headings of target markets, product, place, promotion and price.

ABSTRACT KEYWORDS: spa marketers, spa industry statistics, spa users, trends, opportunities

The spa industry in the USA has shown robust growth in sales volume and in the number of facilities. This growth is driven by baby-boomers who want a place where they can get spa treatments that improve their physical and mental well-being, and which offers rest, relaxation, exercise and pampering. Spas are providing a myriad of opportunities for improving the mind and body. Despite the growth currently taking place in the spa industry, there are still challenges to consider.

INTRODUCTION In the 1980s a fitness explosion took place and increasingly people joined gyms and health clubs to take part in this trend.1 By the early 1990s, participation had slowed. Similar to the 1980s’ growth in fitness participation, spa participation is currently showing incredible growth. As more consumers turn to spa facilities as venues to improve their health and well-being, the industry continues to grow at amazing rates and marketing opportunities abound. According to a 2000 industry study by the International Spa Association (ISPA),2 there were 5,689 spa facilities in the USA in 1999. Ninety-five million visits were made to spas, leading to the generation of $5bn in revenues. In the USA the number of spas has grown at an average annual rate of 21 per cent. Between 1997 and 1999 the number of spas increased by 52 per cent, the number of visits increased by 70 per cent and revenue grew by 152 per cent. According to growth patterns identified, research indicates the industry is on pace to double in size every four years.3 Currently there are...
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