Man Spa Mindset
What owners who successfully cater to men realize, is that the male spa client is a very different creature. Winning over men starts with making them comfortable in this strange new environment.
“One of the biggest differences between the sexes is that women find the spa environment a social atmosphere, but for guys it’s a private experience—they don’t like bumping into people they know,” says Francoeur. Located in Canada’s capital, Bodé is in an area surrounded by embassies. For security reasons, the spa was discouraged from posting an exterior sign.
“We thought that after the first year, we would have to move, but it’s worked out. Men like being able to duck in here without others necessarily knowing they are going into a spa.” That mindset would make one think that the all important word-of-mouth doesn’t exist. It does, say owners; it just works in a different way.
“Women still end up talking about our spa and raving to their girlfriends about the services their men have received. And men will talk about it with very close friends they are comfortable with, but are more likely to make a joke about it,” says Francoeur. “For example, a man might see how a friend clipped his own back or chest hair and tease him about what a bad job he did, then tell him how he gets his waxed and shaped here professionally.”
When a man does talk, he’s more likely to talk about the place and the atmosphere, rather than the service, says Jessica Hammel, vice president of operations for the franchised chain American Male. “For example, they are more likely to tell a friend how cool it is that we serve beer during their services, rather than showing their friends how great their nails turned out.”
Paula Cassidy, Andre Chreky’s spa director, theorizes there is one important loud voice singing the virtues of spa to men. “The advent of reality television frequently showcases men getting makeovers and being in the spa environment—it’s been a way for men to experience what’s behind those closed doors and learn about the services a spa has to offer.”
The Need for Need
Unlike a woman, who is more likely to dabble in spa for the first time out of curiosity or as a self reward, men are driven to their first-time spa visit by need. “Whether it’s a massage or foot care or a waxing service—guys come in here for a need,” says Francoeur. “They’ll continue coming in because of that need until about the third visit—that’s how long it takes the average new male client to be comfortable enough to be interested in what else you have to offer.”
For spas with prominent salons, the hair cut represents a comfortable avenue into the spa environment. At Natural Oasis Day Spa and Salon in Spring Hill, Tennessee, owner Marabeth Poole introduces male clients to spa-like services through a scalp massage and a mini facial at the shampoo bowl.
“We also incorporate hot packs on the neck and foot soaks with customized scents in our waiting area,” says Poole.
“If you ask a new male client who’s scheduled for a hair cut if they want to add on a spa service, they’ll almost always say no,” adds Hammel. “So we incorporate a paraffin hand treatment, a face massage customized with essential oil, a scalp massage and a hot face towel in every hair cut.” Those spa-like extras break down men’s natural resistance, while allowing service providers to talk about the importance of skin care.
American Male also offers a mini facial, which includes exfoliation, toning and moisturizing, that is done right at the shampoo bowl. “It introduces them to the facial service without making them venture into the treatment room,” says Hammel. “We’ve had a lot of success selling that as an add-on for $12.”
At Metro Styles, it’s frequently the hot shave that encourages men to explore skin care services. “When men call to inquire about a razor shave, we’ll talk about the importance of a pre-shave skin treatment,” says Mclendon. Part of every shave, this treatment typically consists of a deep cleansing with an exfoliant and an enzyme peel that breaks down the keratin under the beard. After the shave, the technician may opt to do a hydrating gel masque if there’s a reaction to the shave, as well as massage the client with a protective oil.
“It’s the perfect opportunity to talk about any skin care problems they may be experiencing and what other services we have that may be of benefit,” says Mclendon. “Men are less spontaneous than women. But once they start in the barber area and see the benefit to good skin care, then they are much more relaxed in a facial room.”