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48 years old. Although the origin and brand of imported products has some influence on customers, the final choice mainly depends on product efficacy. Chinese spa consumers tend to expect to see an immediate effect while consumers with overseas experience care more about the natural ingredients in the product. (See chart 2-2).


Spa Experience Affects Purchase Decisions The survey shows that the spa experience is the main factor in influencing consumer purchase decisions. It often starts from a wonderful spa experience from which consumers get good skin care. Then consumers will have confi- dence in the spa and the therapist and thus trust the products they recommend or that they tried. With regards to buying channels, consum-


ers definitely prefer to buy products from spas and they advocate the unique feeling that comes from the product only being available from the spa. The quality guaran- tee period is the most important detail for them when buying, followed by correct usage. Before buying, about 40% of spa consumers will improve their knowledge of the imported product’s background including its expertise, popularity and public comments in maga- zines, websites and from spa practitioners. People of 25 to 36 years old will often look to buy the products from foreign websites or through an agent if the product is sold on an official website. (See chart 3-1).


Obstacles to Consumption: Price and Convenience of Purchase The survey shows that product performance is of top importance when consumers are buying products from a spa. But the spending power


of different age and income groups determines the different choices of products. Middle-class people, paying attention to cost-effectiveness, mostly buy products they have tried in a spa. The newly rich tendlike to buy a full set of the products. This is usually associated with the level of a


spa’s customers. Hotel or resort spas can pre- pare products priced from 1/3 to one night’s accommodation charge. City spas should ana- lyze customer’s information, take a view on their spending power and select the right prod- uct lines to match their needs. Interestingly, the survey shows that almost all spa consumers would like to try products priced 20%-40% higher than their own spending power. There- fore, spas should provide products in various price ranges. There can be different products or different series under the same brand. However, buying is still subject to high


prices, followed by the buying channel limita- tions and inconvenience, resulting from import policy issues and logistics. About 60% of the respondents state that even if they can afford the product, they still think an imported prod- uct with original packaging is too expensive and not cost-effective. About 36% say that the purchase process is not so convenient. For example, it is not easy to buy a product if there is lack of stock or if it has a relatively short shelf life. It is also found that lack of awareness or inadequate product knowledge are among the reasons that stop them from buying spa products. It is interesting to point out that 52% expect product discounts or promotions and 47% would like to get gifts and sample sacks along with their purchase. (See chart 4-1) We also carried out a survey about the


acceptable price range for customers. About 42% believe that imported products with original packaging should be priced from RMB501 to RMB800. Around 35% say an acceptable price is around RMB801 to RMB1200. (See chart 4-2) At present, most professional spa products


brands implement a high-end positioning and high-priced strategy. According to the sur- vey, we believe imported cosmetics should have more promotional means, even using appropriate discounts to attract customers and enhance convenience of buying. Brand owners should cooperate with agents and spas, let Chi- nese consumers realize the quality and brand image of imported products, then gradually build consumer numbers and perfect the serv- ice system. These are part of the essential proc- ess for their sustainable development in the China spa market.


In addition, the survey shows that currently


spa products from France, Switzerland, the United States, Japan and the UK are the most popular in China. French products give us a sexy and romantic feeling, Swiss products are famous for their anti-aging high-technolo- gy, Japanese products are good at whitening and moisturizing, especially suitable for Asian people, and products from the UK feature a traditional and noble sense that appeal to cus- tomers. Chinese consumers welcome products from other countries. As long as the products are good and suit them, they will consider buy- ing after a spa experience. A total of 33% of consumers have replaced daily use chemical skin care products with professional line prod- ucts. (See chart 4-3)


From the Spa Owner Perspective The efficacy of products is also the most important factor for spa owners. It has a direct impact on a spa’s reputation and business. Sales support including brand promotion, marketing and various sales techniques and packages is of secondary importance. Many spa owners think that some Euro- pean brands are very good, but are poor at sales and training support. Compared with these European brands, US brands tend to adapt to China’s market and marketing mode very well. With characteristic and effective marketing, US brands promote a spa’s business growth as well as care about their sales volume.


Agents and Imported Spa Products For domestic spa products agents, the work of introducing a foreign brand is enormous. There is the need to complete extensive pre- liminary official paper work, build domestic distribution channels, and carry out market promotion and publicity. Domestic agents need to invest a great deal of energy, resources and money. In the short term, the income may be inadequate to cover output. The results cannot satisfy either the agent or the brand owner or they may hold different opin- ions about the market. But if agents do great work, the return will


be good. Domestic agents are usually good at building sales channels. Some agents with a spa background can provide wonderful training and after-sales service, while their weakness tends to lie in brand image, marketing and market promotion. (See chart 5-1) China is the second largest economy after


the United States and ahead of Japan and Ger- many. In 2012, China’s GDP was $8.38 trillion,


SpaChina • 2013 | 41


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