Let’s face it: our modern lives are really stressful. Even in the best of times, we’re all stretched between too many commitments with entirely too tight deadlines. Yet we’re all still expected to look our best and be cheerful while doing so. All of this stress likely explains why spas are such big business. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to pamper yourself — you’ve earned it! Hair salons, massage therapy, eyelash and eyebrow studios, and related wellness spas are an $18.3 billion U.S. industry. With that kind of money on the line, it’s important to get your retail spa design right. Here are four secrets to designing a spa that will have consumers knocking down your door.
Neutral tones and natural materials help create a warm, welcoming ambiance at Modern Acupuncture.
The Right Ambiance
People go to spas because they want to relax and treat themselves. That means the ambiance of your retail spa design will be a big part of your success. Lighting, therefore, is a critical element in any spa, and warm lighting tends to be very relaxing. Think of how soothing candle light can be. Modern Acupuncture’s lighting has that quality to it.
You also need to consider noise coming into the space. Especially in massage therapy, you want visitor rooms to be very calming, and outside noises can ruin the effect. Gentle music or a white noise machine can be paired with the right noise mitigation build-out to quiet your space.
In addition to lighting and noise-reduction, colors, materials, and finishes play a big role in creating the right ambiance. While each brand is different, we find that simple designs work best for most spas. Actually, the simpler, the better. Neutral tones and simple materials are best for creating a relaxing environment. That said, if your goal is to create a funky, fun, vibe-filled experience, there’s nothing wrong with using brighter colors and bold patterns to attract clientele. Ultimately the focus should be on your clients and their needs.
This couple’s massage room at Sanctuary SalonSpa in Excelsior, MN, provides both privacy and the ability for a shared experience.
Privacy vs. Social Interaction
In addition to lighting, colors, and finishes, a big part of getting retail spa design right is understanding how much privacy your clients want. Some spas will have a very open concept, like Drybar Wayzata. Others are more private and feature individual rooms, like in the Amazing Lash facilities. It’s important to recognize that there’s no one right answer. It really just depends on who you are trying to market it to.
The interaction with your customers is very different depending on how much privacy you provide. You’ve got to think about what your services are and what amount of privacy is needed. When you go to a hair salon, for example, you don’t expect to have an individual room. It’s more of a social experience, where you have lots of interaction between the client and the provider. In contrast, when you provide massages and acupuncture, you want more individual, or even completely private, spaces.
Another thing to consider is if you are trying to market to individuals or to groups. That should play a large role in how your space is laid out. For example, we’ve designed spas that include both private massage rooms and open areas for groups to interact. This is especially appealing to groups like bridal parties, where the group interaction is a major part of the experience. If that’s an important part of your target market, it should be part of your retail spa design.
Drybar Wayzata makes great use of their retail sales section. They effectively display a variety of products, without feeling cluttered or cramped.
Maximizing Retail Displays
Typically, the entryway of your spa is where you have retail products — and where you have a lot of opportunity for branding. Some businesses, however, really miss out on this opportunity. The most lucrative retail spa designs put a lot of effort into their displays, as product sales are crucial to success. That’s where you make a good amount of profit, especially for small businesses. The challenge is that those retail products can easily be missed if you don’t create a good presentation area for your product. At Amazing Lash and European Wax, for example, we use a beautiful millwork, and the space is very focused. You have great lighting and really nice branding that puts emphasis on those products. Placement within the entryway is also critical. You should allow customers to freely access product displays on their own. Don’t hide them behind the reception desk.
It’s important to have that focus and be thoughtful about your product displays. It’s also critical to keep these areas from looking cluttered and junky. Let’s say you have fifteen different products for sale, but only display one of each. They are all likely to get lost, which will cost you sales.
Large retailers like Target do a fantastic job showcasing their products. For example, they will have ten faces of one brand of cookie — that is, ten packages of the same brand at the front of the shelf. There’s an intent to doing it that way. It creates much more visibility for the product. When you have that symmetry and that order to your design, it’s very appealing to consumers.
Smaller spas may not always have enough floor space for large retail displays. However, there are ways to make product sales a bigger focus of your space design. We can take these ideas from larger retailers and adapt them to help smaller spas be more profitable.
A well-designed break room tells your employees that they are valued. And that helps keep them around, which reduces your long-term turnover costs.
How does retail spa design play a role in employee retention? As a business owner, it’s easy to see a space and want to maximize the number of seats within it to drive sales and profitability. Like any business, however, there’s a fine line to balance between sales and cost of goods sold. All too often, the back of house is sacrificed for the customer area. Just like your clients, employees also need a space, such as a break room, in which to relax and reset. Separate this space from utility functions whenever possible. Make that investment in your employees, and they’re more likely to stick around, which lowers your long-term operating costs.
A custom ceiling sculpture is the main focus of attention as in this busy area of the New Reflections Salon at Ridgedale Mall.
Retail Spa Design Success
Your business depends on getting the right people in the door, creating a space that makes them happy, and providing the products and services they need to stay that way. As a Twin Cities retail architecture firm, our goal is to design a space where your business can thrive. Contact us today to get started.
Shawn Wochnick, CID
As an Interior Designer and BIM manager with PlanForce, Shawn has worked on a wide variety of retail, industrial, and office projects, developing a well-earned reputation for his responsiveness and attention to detail. He is particularly interested in the role that design plays in society—the way design is shaped and perceived by the general public, and he strives to create connective, welcoming, enjoyable environments for PlanForce Group's clients.