The “spa” as a concept is a relatively new form of business that was introduced to the Japanese market in the new millennium. In less than 10 years, however, the spa as a business concept has come a long way and evolved quite quickly from the infantile stage to the expansion/growth stage. Despite the current economic circumstances and difficulties in Japan, the outlook for the spa market is optimistic. Prospects are good for market entry by U.S. spa, beauty goods and cosmetics businesses.
Following the opening of Bloom SPA Toya at Windsor Hotel Toya in 2002, reportedly the first authentic spa established in Japan, the industry has taken off in Japan. Famous Asian brand spas such as Singapore’s St. Gregory Spa, the Mandara Spa and the Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa opened in 2003, followed by the Banyan Tree Spa came in 2004. Many hotels, including Grand Hyatt and Sheraton, as well as traditional Japanese hot spring inns (“Onsen Ryokan” in Japanese) followed suit, opening “destination spas.”
In Japan, words such as “Healing”, “Wellness”, and “Relaxation” have become trendy buzz words recently. While there have been many forms of relaxation services such as massage (Western or Asian style), acupressure, sauna, reflexology, aroma therapy, and the traditional Japanese hot springs (therapeutic bath), the spa concept is relatively new to Japan. The concept of spa caught on quickly in Japan. Industry sources estimate that the total number of spas was only 100 in 2004 and roughly 300 in 2006. By 2008 the number had reached 650, and it is anticipated that the number of establishments and types of business will continue to grow rapidly.
Following the influx of foreign brand spas, non-destination spas, or “day spas,” have begun to emerge in Japan. As described in the next Market Data section, the aforementioned traditional relaxation-related businesses as well as fitness/sports clubs also started spa services as auxiliary services.
As demand for spa treatments increases, consumer demand for more new spa-related cosmetics, toiletry goods, and services will grow as well. Because Asian-style spa concepts arrived in Japan first, followed by the European type of destination spa concept, Asian and European treatment goods initially dominated the market. The most well-established brand in Japan was considered to be DECLÉOR from France. But today, many cosmetics makers are entering the spa business including Japan’s largest cosmetics manufacturer, Shiseido. Based on market growth trends industry experts report that demand for American treatment goods will grow. There will be an increasing demand for organic products and treatments that are a fusion between traditional Japanese hospitality concepts and Western techniques to make the best of both worlds in providing “healing”, “wellness”, and “relaxation” services.