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What Gwyneth’s Vagina Scented Candle can Teach the Spa Industry

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Gwyneth Paltrow, Oscar winning actress and owner of the e-commerce site Goop is stirring things up again. Most recently her addition of celebrated perfumer Douglas Little’s candle “This Smells Like My Vagina” has seemingly touched a nerve across all areas of social media. Amidst the jokes about tuna and sardines, the candle has  sold out and has an extensive wait-list.

That got my attention. And somehow after the numerous assaults on women that we’ve witnessed in the past few years, I personally find it refreshing that such a world renowned  artist like Mr. Little would create a product celebrating a women’s most personal aroma in such an endearing way.


But more to the point of spa, the rabid demand for the candle begs the question, “How many times has your retail inventory turned over in the past 30 days? When was the last time you had a hot product? After all, you don’t necessarily need millions of followers like Gwyneth to have retail success.

As I pondered about my retail challenged industry, here’s what came to mind.

First rule of sales– the more people you can market your product to, the more products you can sell! Having an active website with a blog allows you to engage with potential buyers 24/7. Even hotel website’s can focus more on their spa’s retail offerings in a creative way.

If no one is talking about your product, you’re probably not selling much of it. Be sure that everyone in your spa has personally tried the retail items on your shelves, like the staff at Goop. I am constantly amazed at how many spa products are never used by the people expected to sell them.

Everyone at your spa should know everything that you offer from the front desk to the therapists. There is simply no excuse for ignorance in the workplace. Unscheduled time should not be playtime if  retail sales are low. Use it for product training.  Pick a random item from your retail shelf and ask your staff members to recommend it. See if they can give a personal heartfelt description that compels you to want to purchase.

Products are visible and easy to locate. Whether in-house or online (kudos if you have an e-commerce store)  presentation is everything.

Are your products well placed to maximize sales? Is your e-commerce easy to navigate? Are the categories clear? Are the in-house product talkers and written descriptions easy to read and comprehend? Is your staff clear about the target market of each product? Not everything is for everybody.

Too many spa professionals are misguided when describing products. The description of the vagina candle talks about putting you in the mind of seduction and fantasy. The intention is clear. Therapists often cite features rather than benefits because features (like product ingredients) can be memorized. Truth is, people only care about what benefits them. Help them understand what they gain by purchasing your product.

Learn how to leverage social media. Post your products on Facebook and  Twitter.  Build relationships with bloggers and idea makers. Stop putzing around with your old school marketing team and hire people who actually understand SEO.

Clarify your product’s value

Products that go viral tend to be fun, engaging and unique. In these serious times, the vagina candle engaged us. Whether we giggled or ridiculed it, it got our attention. You have to stock products that your staff wants to buy, that gets their attention! There is nothing less exciting than a spa store of tired boring products.

Skincare lines like Biologique Recherche excel because they have a story to tell.  Everyone understands the value of their stellar P50 lotion. It’s a whole conversation unto itself.

Find out the story of each product you’re stocking. Zent’s founder Cord Coen has an amazing story of self-healing. It moved several of my trainees in the Dominican Republic to tears and not surprisingly sales increased. One of my favorite lines, Environ, was borne out of a tragedy experienced by creator Dr. Fernandes. Understanding the genesis of the products make them more authentic and relatable. That translates into earnest recommendations.

Remember,  you are competing with major beauty emporiums like Sephora as well as Amazon. Use your personal advantage to connect to your audience while they’re physically in your spa.

All this from a vag candle. Go figure!

Linda Harding-Bond
Linda Harding-Bond is shifting the paradigm on spa retail training. Her Express Online Retail Training Course is exactly what's needed for post-COVID-19 spa re-openings. Designed to bring your therapists' retail skills up to speed, it will quickly position retail as a robust alternate revenue stream. Linda has provided training for many world-class organizations including The Oberoi Group, St. Regis Hotel, Anantara Hotels & Resorts, Shangri-La Hotels, The Resort at Pedregal, GoldenEye Resort and Spa and Six Senses Resorts. She is author of "Listen, Engage, Sell!: The Foolproof Method for Increasing Spa Sales in 7 Days or Less" and "The New Esthy Handbook: an Essential Guide for Novice or Nervous Estheticians". Connect with her at Linda@Moontideconsulting.com .
Linda Harding-Bond

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