Word of Mind: How Consumers Are Sharing Spa Information

As we have seen more often with the current economy, some spas are giving things away with the hope of attracting and retaining new clients.  In our Global Spa Survey, we asked each respondent how likely they would be to recommend a spa they had a positive experience at (even if they did not plan to return). 83% said they would be very likely and 17% said they would be likely to do so, leaving only 6 respondents out of 1,275 saying they were not very likely to recommend the spa.
The good news is that even if you feel like you are giving treatments away, if the experience is positive, that client is very likely to share the experience.  Even if the spa is out of their normal budget, it is likely to yield social network benefits.

Today, we hear the word ‘social networking’ and think of countless different things: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more.  Social networking can mean a multitude of things.  And while we recognize the scope of Social Networking is vast, for the purposes of this research we will focus on the concept that Social Networking describes situations where consumers are actively sharing (giving or receiving) feedback or information about spa.  In Coyle’s Global Spa survey, we asked a variety of questions about how and what consumers communicate about spas.

As mentioned above, nearly all of the 1275 respondents to the Global Spa Survey said that they would be likely to recommend a spa if they had a positive experience there. The findings when respondents were asked how they would be likely to communicate that recommendation are illustrated in the table below with the highest concentration of responses highlighted in orange for each:

As expressed in the table above, respondents were still most likely to communicate a recommendation via ‘word of mouth’ (97%).  Unfortunately, word of mouth is not a quantifiable measure on which spas can rely for immediate benefit, because we are unable to learn either the number of people that the respondent would tell or the length of time they would take to tell it.  The intimate aspects of some spa treatments could lead a satisfied recipient of hair removal to tell only one very close friend three years from now.
Indicative of cultural shifts toward online communication:
  • 60% would be likely or very likely to email friends with the recommendation
  • 48% would be likely or very likely to write an online review
  • 41% would be likely or very likely to become a fan on a social networking site
  • 37% would be likely or very likely to post on a social networking site
Interestingly, however, there seems to still be quite a bit of discrepancy amongst respondents regarding posting on a social networking site.  Responses were evenly spread from very unlikely to very likely to communicate in this fashion.  Becoming a ‘fan’ on a social networking site demonstrated a more concentrated but similar spread.  The responses indicate that these ‘social networking’ sites are not yet utilized by the masses for this purpose.
Unlike ‘word of mouth’, posting an online review will reach a quantifiable number of people over a measured period of time, depending on the site’s popularity. Interesting, given that comment cards or guest survey fulfillment see a similar curve, which suggests that a significant and unusual level of satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) may need to be reached to trigger a positive (or negative) review.
This could also support the notion that only people who are very dissatisfied are likely to post a negative review, though we admittedly did not ask about that on this survey.
Either way, word of mouth may eventually become an oxymoron as spas seek ‘word of mind’; the thoughts that people type online in various formats.  Certainly, the fingers are able to reach a lot more people than the mouth.
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