For the past several years, product manufacturers and salon and spa owners have anticipated and celebrated the eventual arrival of the metrosexual man to their doors. While the female market for skin care and grooming products may be worth about $95 billion annually, today’s male market is smaller, but growing twice as fast. And according to a 2007 International Spa Association survey, 31 percent of today’s spa-goers are men.
But if you delve into history, men haven’t been as absent from the grooming arena as many would have you believe. Think back to the male gentry who traditionally employed a manservant specifically for the purposes of preparing their wardrobe and maintaining a meticulous grooming regimen. Remember, the social venue of the neighborhood barbershop was where menfolk routinely gathered for a hot shave and a trim. And, after all, it was the men who used to wear the wigs, the
powder and the make-up.
If men haven’t historically distanced themselves from grooming services, they’ve definitely taken a long vacation. But whose fault is that? Over the decades, the burgeoning salon and spa market narrowly focused their attention on the lucrative female, while at the same time the traditional barbershop concept fell out of vogue. What was the well-groomed male to do?
Today, men represent the next great frontier for many spas. They are showing an increased interest in services, from waxing to facials to nail care; shelling out dollars for skin care; and seeking and listening attentively to grooming advice. And, according to those who cater to them, men make easier and significantly more loyal clients.
Where’s Your Welcome Mat?
Those who first captured this newly awakened male market were the spas that greeted men with enthusiasm and a willingness to adapt their business to their new customers’ needs. Little House Spa, founded in 1999 by Doug Coburn and Daniel Francoeur in rural Cumberland, Ontario, was a great example.
Over the years, the non-intimidating, log-structure spa witnessed a trend of more men requesting services and Coburn and Francoeur catered to that demand by creating the Men’s Den, a male-only lounge and treatment room that was separate from the other spa facilities.
When the owners had the opportunity to purchase the Bodé Spa in Ottawa in 2004, they turned their full attention toward men. “Where the traditional spa has a population of about 90 percent female clients to 10 percent male, we’re the opposite. We’re focused on the male client, and only about 10 percent of our clientele is women.”
That unique expertise has recently ushered Coburn and Francoeur onto the speaker’s circuit, as they’re increasingly invited to industry shows to talk about how to attract male clientele and how to design and perform services for this market.
Francoeur shares an anecdote from one of these seminars that illustrates how spas are opening their eyes to men:
“A spa owner stood up and said she’s tried everything to attract male clientele,” he recalls. “She said they added men’s spa services and were located in a busy mall that had many male passersby, but they weren’t drawing in the men.”
So, Francoeur asked her the following series of quick questions:
“Do you have anything in your window that says you have services for men?”
“Does any of your salon signage feature images of men?”
“Does your window display feature any male product lines?”
“Do you have a separate menu of services just for men?”
While the owner developed services to cater to men, she’d missed the first step of signaling to men that hers was a welcoming environment. “But creating that environment can be fairly simple stuff,” says Francoeur. “It’s as easy as painting a treatment room in a color that appeals to both sexes, using black or dark blue sheets for male services, or having magazines that appeal to men in the waiting room.”