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Keeping it real

Ensuring the use of organic, sustainable, and environmentally-friendly products within the spa can help broaden customer appeal

By Sean Tarry
Today’s consumer is evolving, displaying attitudes and behaviours that are influenced by a whole host of different factors. Some of these factors, including price, value, and convenience, have played a role in helping to direct consumer appeal and purchases for quite some time. Some, however, boast less longevity and traction, yet pose just as significant an impact going forward. In fact, one of the more recent consumer considerations that has been gaining momentum for a number of years—one whose popularity seemed to be facilitated by the COVID-19 global pandemic—is centred around claims made by businesses related to environmental sustainability, fair and equal trade, and product origin. And, if actions taken by businesses related to these new drivers of purchasing decisions are not decisive, the results could be devastating.

Lack of trust
According to a recent report developed by Deloitte titled “Creating value from sustainable products,” 93% of Canadian consumers consider sustainability and other topics related to environmental, social, and governance issues to be of significant importance, and far more than keywords to leverage within marketing campaigns. However, a concerning 53% don’t believe the claims that businesses and organizations make concerning their products and services. And, given the fact that spas offer experiences that emphasize natural and organic approaches that refresh, rejuvenate, and replenish, it only makes sense to support the experiences and services with products that reflect their essence.
According to Deloitte survey data, it seems as though consumers across the country can be positively influenced in a number of different ways depending on the nature of the claim and the way in which it’s presented. In fact, more than half (54%) of those surveyed for the report reveal that they respond well to facts that are presented that help explain why a product is considered more sustainable, while 49% see third-party certification seals as useful in substantiating claims. When seals signify successful adherence to a global standard, consumer appeal rises to 55%. It’s incredibly important data for spa owners to take note of, especially when considering the fact that, when asked, 75% of consumers across the country say that, all things being equal, they’re much more likely to purchase from brands that offer green or sustainable products.

Backing claims
In order to capitalize on current consumer sentiment around sustainability and related topics and avoid any accusations of greenwashing, businesses will want to ensure the claims they’re making are legitimate and accurate. To do so, there are a number of different certifications that are given to products to verify the authenticity of their claims. For instance, skincare products are always accompanied by a GMO-free certification. There are also a host of websites that can be searched, both government- and independently-run, which track and verify the legitimacy and authenticity of products and equipment.
Once you’ve done your due diligence, ensuring that the products you use are all-natural and organic, and that whatever equipment being used during treatments is credible and authentic, there are a handful of initiatives you can implement in order to raise consumers’ level of trust in your claims.

Clarify purpose
Defining why you do things the way you do can go a long way toward engendering trust in the customer. State your purpose that’s grounded in transparency, sustainability principles, and values.

Engage consumers
Go above and beyond to educate your customers, making them aware of your establishment’s sustainability efforts at the product, service, and brand levels. Keeping them in the loop and abreast of the progress that’s being made toward tangible and meaningful sustainability goals can have a massive impact on the reputation of your operation and what you’re trying to achieve.

Identify product attributes
Clearly define for your customers, both existing and prospective, the aspects and details of your product and service that might have an environmental or social impact, explaining the practical solutions that they provide.

Develop strategy
This will involve processes that will govern the ways in which internal sustainability efforts are decided upon, executed, and communicated with customers. It will include ways by which to substantiate sustainability claims through certification and authentication, supply chain transparency and traceability, and more.

Create marketing strategy
In order to realize the full potential of your sustainability efforts, you’ll want to boast about your progress, building it into your marketing campaigns. And, to do so most effectively, make sure you include all of the data and empirical evidence that you can to back your sustainability claims. And, communicate your goals and achievements to date with honesty and transparency.

Increasing customer loyalty
It’s no secret that for the businesses that either fall short in their sustainability efforts or make false claims about their progress, the fallout and backlash can be devastating, resulting in a significant loss of customers and credibility among the public. On the flipside of that equation, however, if a business puts forth a concerted effort, is honest about their goals and aspirations, transparent about their progress and ways by which they’ve achieved it, the results can be incredible, highlighted primarily by a dramatic increase in reputation and interest among prospective visitors. So, get serious about your sustainability efforts by identifying where improvements can be made within your establishment, putting honest work into achieving those improvements, and keeping your customers aware of your journey to facilitate organic growth for your business.

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