According to industry estimates, the Singapore spa industry sees revenues of approximately US$87 million / S$130 million yearly. Research conducted by leading research company, Intelligent Spas, reported that the number of spas has gone up by 63% since 2003, reaching 173 outlets in 2007. This data does not include beauty salons and massage parlours. The research company also speculated that the figure would grow by 11% over the next two years, bringing the number of spas to approximately 190 in 2009. According to some experts, the growing number of new entrants is a bid to cash in on an industry that sees rising revenues year-on-year. It is also expected that these new entrants will position themselves at the higher-end, catering to customers who are more sophisticated and well-heeled.
When spas were first introduced in Singapore over the last decade, these operations were sited mainly in the shopping and tourist belt of Orchard Road and the Central Business district, within hotels and malls. Today, more spas are opening up in the heartlands/suburbs to cater to a growing market of consumers with varying levels of discretionary income. The beauty and pampering business is fairly resilient to economic cycles and continues to thrive in affluent Singapore, which is why some spa operators were optimistic that the industry would be resilient despite the global financial crisis over the last year. However, the spa and wellness industry was not spared the negative effects of the global financial crisis. The Intelligent Spas report revealed that spa operators worldwide received 13% less visits in 2008 compared to their original forecasts although their revenues were 8.5% higher than expected. That said, the outlook for 2010 is more positive with all major regions predicting increases in average revenues and visits per spa and growth of between 8% and 32%.
Spa packages, product offerings and technologies are constantly evolving to satisfy the needs and wants of the affluent spa patron. The Singapore domestic market is sophisticated with various market segments, from those with high disposable incomes who seek premium and high-quality products, to mass-market consumers who are more price-sensitive. Besides an affluent, local resident population, Singapore is also home to over a million foreigners, with a significant expatriate population that enjoys and demands a high-quality lifestyle.
The Singapore Tourism Board has also in recent years aggressively promoted the island as a spa destination to regional travellers. This has enabled the hotel spa operator to have a regular and steady stream of customers.
U.S. companies seeking to introduce new spa equipment and supplies into the emerging markets of Southeast Asia should consider using Singapore to launch their products and services. Singapore serves as a showcase for the rest of the region. For example, in the area of spa management and aesthetics procedures, many Singaporean spa operators and aestheticians also function as consultants, product champions and key opinion leaders in the region. Some spa operators also have branches in neighboring Southeast Asia. Similarly, distributors also market across borders in the region.
In mid 2008, a report released by MasterCard showed that Singaporean MasterCard holders spent 39% more on massage services and 32% more on health and beauty spa treatments from a year ago. The middle of the year is traditionally a good period to ring in sales as the entire island goes on sale. The city-state’s Great Singapore Sale, held yearly from late May to July, has been successful in wooing both tourists and residents alike. Leading spa chains and boutique spas like Body Contours, Spa Esprit, Aspara, Aramsa has seen brisk business, reporting increases in sales of between 12% and 50% from 2007.
According to the spa owners, the key group driving sales are Singaporean women between the ages of 20 and 40. These women visit the spas three to four times a month and spend up to US$3400/S$5000 on spa packages that include massages, facials, manicures and pedicures.
These days, it is not only the women who are frequenting spas, more men are indulging too; a trend mirrored in other parts of the work where waxing, manicures and pedicures are no longer the domain of women. Statistics on male patronage of spas in Singapore is not available at present but according to a 2007 trend report by the International Spa Association, 31% of American spa-goers are male. It is likely that Singapore will see similar figures and trends in the near future.
Based on recent newspaper reports, some spa operators are also going further by targeting the family using creative themed concepts. Packages could promote mother-daughter bonding or one that caters to the entire family. For example, a popular local spa chain plans to open a safari-themed spa in a residential area to attract families. Promotions for festive occasions, significant events such as Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day are also marketed.
Growth in Singapore's spa sector is expected to see more competition and product differentiation as these firms aim to carve a niche for themselves.
By Luanne Theseira