Courtesy of The Raithwaite Estate Spa, N Yorks

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Men in Spa's

- Written by Brigita Kliucinskaite - University of Derby




The Spa industry, valued at 119 billion US dollars in 2018, is a leader in revenue growth in the whole wellness industry with the average annual growth of 9.8% since 2015. However, it still remains to be the industry with the highest gender gap at a surprising share of only 29% of male customers compared to 71% of female customers in the United Kingdom. In addition to that, according to industry research, 80% of all males that decide to use the Spa only choose to come with their romantic partner. Females, on the contrary, prefer to relax with a friend or alone while some men still see relaxing alone in the Spa as a daunting experience. It is more than clear that the female segment today is at the peak of using the Spas or at least anywhere close to that. Conversely, the perspectives of the male targeted segment are still out there to be materialised.

Why men are avoiding Spas?

Naturally, to benefit from perspectives of the male segment in the Spa industry, the industry must first understand the reasons behind such a low share of men coming to Spa‘s. As studies reveal, most men do not like to be pampered. Fancy facials, soft massages and fluffy robes or going from one treatment to another and so on are not deemed “manly” enough or can even be seen as unpleasant. When, in fact, the main issue here is a lack of knowledge. 

In recent times, most spa treatments were always put in the same category as beauty treatments, most publications are covering the newest products and treatments targeted to women only and spa brands are being too often linked to make-up and similar products. Therefore, even though massage therapy has many benefits for all women and men such as reducing muscle tension, relieving stress and boosting the immune system, the knowledge is often lost. Moreover, no matter how ridiculous it sounds, men tend to be reluctant to admit they take care of their well-being or have a common misconception that the same scents or oils that are used for women are used for men too. At the end of the day, no one is forced to book a treatment. If preferred, a simple relaxation in a sauna or jacuzzi is also a spa retreat until a customer familiarizes with the spa concept.

How to encourage men to invest in Spa‘s

ESPA, one of the leading international spa brands offering men-specific treatments is a perfect example of changing the way men see Spa‘s. Men are starting to appreciate ESPA‘s carefully selected and appropriately marketed products and have invested in booking mostly deep muscle, deep pressure full body or sport massages. ESPA sets a fine example of how to capture the target market‘s attention and effectively operate in a niche segment. As studies suggest, men are not likely to book a hot-stone massage or anti-aging wrap but will generally be happy to reduce any back, neck or legs muscles tension with a deep tissue massage. While the spa is still categorising treatments and products for men and women and it works just fine for spa customers, the gender lines are becoming more blurred. 2018 has already seen the spa and beauty industries shifting towards inclusivity with customers starting to forget the predetermined constraints.

One of the newest industry experiences – floating – is actually attracting men without being specifically targeted to men. A weightless experience in a dark sensory deprivation tank is what a lot of men find to be one of the best ways to relax. It is highly marketed by male athletes, actors and comedians which strongly adds to the acknowledgement. Floating helps with insomnia, anxiety, mental and physical tension. A floatation tank is a costly investment for any business no matter how large or small. However, there is evidence to support the fact that both women and men appreciate floating therapy and the knowledge is there already for profiting in the long-term.

Last but not least, men are highly likely to appreciate Spa facilities equally or even more than treatments, studies say. In general, men are more likely to use saunas than women are. On the contrary, the use of jacuzzi, pools or treatments is the other way round and there is a perfect country to evidence this in North-Eastern Europe. Finland, a country that has more saunas than cars, has a sauna usage rate of 98%! There is no statistical gender gap and it is clearly evident in Finland. Men statistically like saunas a lot more than other facilities any spa could offer and are known to sometimes prefer sauna experience only without booking any additional treatments or activities. Furthermore, 67% of the Finnish population use saunas one or more times a week which is a significant fact to consider. Men have the knowledge of the benefits of saunas in the United Kingdom as well – all they need to know is where to find a good one. Plus, there is an opportunity to try out the Finnish tradition of birch branch whipping to really enhance the sauna experience. When visiting anywhere in Eastern Europe, it is a necessity to have a sauna experience as it provides benefits such as softening the skin and improving blood circulation. This inexpensive and easy add on raises the sauna and Spa experience to a whole new level.

Where to sign up?

All in all, the Spa industry is still growing and there are a lot of possibilities for Spas to grow their customer base. Currently, having only 29% of male customers, the UK Spa industry provides real potential to grow even more by implementing marketing plans, treatments and products to better target the male segment. The main issue here is still knowledge being lost due to the industry direction, publications and advertisements. Recently,Spa is generally linked with female products and pampering experiences. However, the male segment also has a need for relieving stress, alleviating muscle tension or just relaxing with a friend and therefore needs more encouragement to use spas. Correspondingly, the benefits for Spas are highly compelling compared with the costs needed. The main task here is to get your marketing in line and bring back the knowledge to remind men of the benefits Spa provides with small additions to the treatment menu or sauna equipment. More costly investments such as flotation tanks should not be forgotten as well after reviewing the evidence that it will help to attract customers amongst all market segments. So, if everything discussed is taken into consideration and acted upon, we may start to see the gender gap lessen.

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Tuesday, 29 September 2020