The secret to successfully retailing body care products

Retailing can be a real money spinner for your business but for many therapists it’s the most challenging part of the job. Convincing a client that they need to use a range of professional products at home can be a tough feat, especially on the body. But why is this segment of retail often overlooked?

Demand for facial treatments has reached phenomenal heights, with the latest technological innovations, ingredients and products in the industry all geared towards them – a very different story to 30 years ago, as Marian Harvey, managing director of Thalgo, tells me. “In the ’80s ‘body’ was really on-trend. There was a huge explosion in fi tness with gyms, step classes, health farms and toning tables, and people were having wraps and slimming treatments. But in recent years that has turned on its head and people are focusing far more on the face.”

While wraps and slimming treatments may have had a fall from grace, massage-based rituals are up and now the most commonly booked treatment in spas – 19% of women and 16% of men reported having a massage in the past 12 months, according to research by the American Massage Therapy Association – which is great for treatment sales but not necessarily for retail. “People see massage as a relaxation treat with no need to back it up with a homecare product, so therapists are fi nding it diffi cult to retail off the back of it,” adds Harvey. To successfully retail body products she says you need to change the way you’re addressing your clientele.

Tap into the emotional 
Clients can feel out of their depth when presented with products they are unfamiliar with or have never considered using before. Instead of giving them the hard sell, or doing the complete opposite and giving them too much space, it’s best to work on earning their trust and approval with an informative but easy-going chat. “Many therapists think it would be harder to recommend products for the body than the face but this is a misconception,” says Jean- Christophe Samyn, UK director of Caudalie.

“For facial recommendations it’s about results but for successful body retail it’s all about the experience and how the client feels. It’s much more of an emotional purchase and you really need to play on that.” Samyn recommends using fragrances in the treatment room to stimulate the senses, having products by the till to build intrigue and fi nding the right time to discuss homecare and gifting opportunities. “For example, after treatment give your client ample time to get to know the products – smell, touch and feel – before discussing prices,” he adds.

And remember, selling takes time. Nathalie Fischer, international trainer at skincare brand Babor, believes it’s all about using the environment to your advantage. “Body treatments tend to be all about relaxation and in this atmosphere some therapists might worry it will be diffi cult to switch the customer into a ‘willing-to-buy’ mood. In reality this very relaxed mood might be an advantage as the customer may be more open to buying an indulgent body product to relive the treatment experience at home.”

The art of communication 
However, the biggest mistake you can make is talking in jargon or being too scientific in your explanation, suggests Harvey. You have to talk to the client on a level they’ll understand. “Talk about what these products are going to do for the body – slimming, toning, fi rming, tightening – these are the keywords customers want to hear,” she adds. “You have to give an explanation behind the technology. Bring it down to what they understand. For example, how will it treat their cellulite? How will it aid poor circulation?”. Samyn agrees and recommends combining these words with emotional phrases such as “feel better”, “pampering” and “me-time” as these will make clients feel more willing to consider the regime you’re proposing.

Understanding how your clients communicate is one of the biggest stepping stones to developing better retailing techniques. “With facial products we are able to see a difference in the mirror, whereas for the body it’s a sense of feeling a difference. If a therapist can educate on the importance of treating the body as a whole then it’s easier for a client to understand how all the products [you’re suggesting] support each other. And it’s important to look, listen and learn from the client to ensure you’re prescribing the right products for their body,” says Nicci Anstey, global training and education director at Elemis.

The hard part for many is proposing more than one product for fear of coming across as pushy or too retail-focused, but you have to be confi dent in what you’re suggesting. “I think some therapists are a bit frightened to propose a big programme because it does mean a large investment in body products,” says Harvey. “If you’re talking about slimming products, for example, you often need to sell three or more to get the best results and the customer needs to continue that regime for several weeks. It can be scary.”

Play with product
When talking through your homecare prescription, making the experience more interactive can help. Harvey recommends swotting up on what you’re selling so you have a strong understanding of the ingredients in the products, how often they need to be used, texture, application and more. “This will gain the customer’s trust and help them feel more comfortable buying from you. I try to use analogies too, such as ‘you wouldn’t let your car go without oil and it’s the same with your body’,” she adds.

Although UK customers are only just starting to become more attuned to the importance of looking after the body again, the outlook is promising thanks to the growing wellness market and consumers generally becoming more body-conscious. “We’re defi nitely seeing increased interest for things like dry body oil. There are now more and more brands launching this kind of product and consumers are understanding the concept better,” says Samyn. Anstey agrees: “Since House of Elemis in London reopened in May, we have seen treatment bookings rise by around 12% and this will in turn have a knock-on effect on the sales of body care products clients use at home in-between treatment courses.”