"Forest Bathing‰" Among Top 10 Spa Trends

Spafinder Wellness 365‰ã¢ released its 12th report on the top 10 spa and wellness trends set to unfold in 2015 and beyond. "Cannabis Goes Spa," ‰ÛÏWellness Traditions from the Islamic World,‰Û and ‰ÛÏForest Bathing‰Û are among the top 10 trends in the 12th annual report.

‰ÛÏIn our 12 years of trend-​tracking, we have never seen spa/​wellness concepts go so deep and global, be so meaningful and move in so many surprising, provocative directions,‰Û said Spafinder Wellness, Inc.å¨ Chief Brand Officer Mia Kyricos, who helped steer the research team, along with Susie Ellis, president of Spafinder. ‰ÛÏOur goal is to provide an in-​depth resource and help the industry make informed decisions by analyzing the social, cultural and economic shifts that fuel each trend.‰Û

One trend that stood out as largely unthinkable even a few years back is the increasing adoption of cannabis as a source for healing ingredients and treatments. As a wave of medical/​recreational marijuana legalization sweeps across the U.S. (soon in Uruguay and likely other global regions), cannabis is getting a ‰ÛÏwellness makeover,‰Û with new spa, beauty, travel and yoga applications.

The report is developed by Spafinder Wellness, Inc. Research Director Beth McGroarty and Spafinder Wellness 365‰Ûªs team of researchers, editors and industry experts. It is based on surveys with the company‰Ûªs large network of consumers, travel agents and spa/​wellness businesses conducted over the last year.

The top global spa and wellness trends for 2015 are:

FOREST BATHING: Mindfulness Meets Nature

The Japanese concept of forest bathing (‰ÛÏshinrin-yoku‰Ûª) has nothing to do with water. It revolves around a deceptively simple practice: quietly walking, with a mind intent on the sounds, scents, colors and ‰ÛÏfeel‰Û of the forest. Poetic? Yes. But it‰Ûªs the medical evidence that‰Ûªs taking it global: Chemicals that trees emit (phytoncides) show a long-​lasting impact on people‰Ûªs immune system markers. Look for more ‰ÛÏforest therapy‰Û trails, more doctors prescribing time in forests, more forest bathing programming at spa retreats and more chic ‰ÛÏwild forest/nature‰Û resorts, with seemingly as many wilderness guides as in national parks.

CANNABIS: New Spa & Wellness Connections

A wave of medical/​recreational marijuana legalization is sweeping the U.S. (globally, Uruguay will be the first nation to legalize recreational usage in 2015). The upshot: an explosive ‰ÛÏcannabusiness‰Û market, giving this ancient, medicinal plant an upscale makeover. It‰Ûªs moving from åʉÛÏdorm room to boardroom,‰Û and new spa/​wellness cannabis connections are proliferating. Look for more marijuana dispensaries adopting the look/​services of spas; more cannabis ‰ÛÏwellness tourism‰Û with luxury spa experiences; new cannabis-​branded day spas; more spas using non-​high-​inducing pain-​relieving topicals and beauty products ‰ÛÒ and hemp seed and milk as hot superfoods.


The world has been strikingly unable to ‰ÛÏsee‰Û what the wellness traditions of the Islamic world offer (stretching from the Middle East to Africa and Asia), with its advanced food-​as-​medicine, and nature-​based beauty and healing practices, refined for 1,000 years. But we predict more people will seek nutritional, beauty and ‰ÛÏspa‰Û traditions central to Islamic cultures in years ahead. Middle Eastern and African spices, grains and fruits will be the buzzed-​about ‰ÛÏsuperfoods,‰Û ingredients used for both food and beauty (from camel‰Ûªs milk to baobob fruit) will trend and spas will offer more experiences like rasul/​mud treatments and sand bathing.


Free massage breaks for garment workers at a factory in Sri Lanka. åÊA smartphone app connected to a wellness program at headquarters reminds long-​haul truck drivers of healthy menuåÊoptions. These aren't happening yet (and the first wave of workplace wellness programs has focused narrowly on white-​collar, management employees). But as employers battle the chronic disease, obesity, pain and musculoskeletal, and mental disabilities that can hit ‰ÛÏblue collar‰Û workers the hardest expect to see more wellness programs designed for them in the future ‰ÛÒ and a greater openness to participation by these workers.


In 2007 Spafinder named ‰ÛÏspa real estate‰Û a top trend‰Û_then the recession hit, and most ‰ÛÏlive-at-the-spa‰Û developments crashed too. Now the wellness living market is roaring back but new developments take the concept of a healthy home much further. Delos Signature Homes (U.S.) ‰ÛÏbakes in‰Û dozens of wellness features: from air/​water purification systems to circadian rhythm lighting. Entire towns/​cities are master-​planned around a 365-​degree concept of wellness, and a new, global ‰ÛÏWell Building Standard‰Û aims to do for human health in the built environment what LEED did for sustainable building ‰ÛÒ and not just for homes, but offices, schools and hospitals. After centuries of real estate development myopically focused on ‰ÛÏcurb appeal,‰Û now health is the new wealth.

MY FITNESS. MY TRIBE. MY LIFE: Super-​Social Fitness

This trend takes a timeout from the manic ‰ÛÏrowing is the new spinning‰Û breed of trend-​spotting to ponder a new socio-​cultural reality: More people‰Ûªs boutique fitness brand/​studio has become their ‰ÛÏlife.‰Û Social fitness defines who you know, what you wear, where you travel‰ÛÒeven how you raise your kids. But it‰Ûªs a global loneliness epidemic, fueled by a surge in urbanization, single-​person households, longer work hours, and lives spent in front of screens that will continue to spur the new directions for the ‰ÛÏmy fitness is my family‰Û uber-trend.

SPA ON ARRIVAL (& EN ROUTE): The New Travel Ritual

It used to be that with vacation and business travel, spa treatments were perceived as a luxurious add-​on. Now the new travel ritual is treatments (and other fitness/​wellness experiences) done right at arrival, or en route at airports, to fight jetlag or to kick-​start productivity. We‰Ûªll see the spa/​wellness explosion at airports continue to take off; more hotels/​spa resorts serving up free massages at check-​in; more online apps and concierges that make booking on-​arrival massages/​classes easy; and more spas open later, earlier, and even 24/​7.

HYPER-​PERSONALIZED BEAUTY: Made-​for-​Me Will Matter More

We‰Ûªre no longer just consumers, we‰Ûªre collaborators. In 2015 look for a shift from ‰ÛÏThis color looks good on me.‰Û to ‰ÛÏThis color was made for me,‰Û from ‰ÛÏIs this moisturizer the best for my skin?‰Û to ‰ÛÏThis moisturizer is perfectly formulated for me.‰Û In every corner of beauty care new opportunities to customize our primping and self-​care experience will arise. We‰Ûªll see more beauty brands using in-​store computer technology to create personalized solutions, more online skin coaching and more spas will let clients create bespoke everything.


‰ÛÏListen to your gut‰Û_‰Û usually means follow your best instincts, but it is one of the hottest trends for 2015. Look for an ongoing focus on the science of the gut and efforts to prove that byåÊaltering its make-​up (aka ‰ÛÏmicrobiome‰Û) we can take our health and beauty to new levels, improve our immunity and resilience, reduce our chances for obesity and even create a happy and healthy mind.åÊWe‰Ûªll see more testing that proves the link between our gut and how we look and feel;åÊthere will be no stopping the proliferation of probiotics in what we drink, eat and put on our skin; and more spas (some of who have been on to this for decades) will offer ways to heal our leaking guts.

BEYOND THE STARS: Luxury Redefined

Extraordinary affluence, an appetite for the different and new, a zeal for documenting #epic experiences and the search for solitude and silence are fueling a new trend: the quest for ‰ÛÏBeyond the Stars‰Û experiences‰ÛÒåÊwhere air light and breathing room are the new luxury,åÊand authentic and novel destinations are the Holy Grail of travel. With this shift, the luxury travel industry will be challenged to top itself with even more spectacular offerings and dazzle usåÊwith spectacular offerings and experiences.

Use these trends to focus on targeting actual Spafinder Users! You might be surprised to know that according to AudienceSCAN, 53% of Spafinder​.com Users are men! Likely they are buying gift cards for their wives, but clearly it's a stat that can't be ignored. Market to men! 49% of Spafinder Users live in city, urban or metropolitan areas. And during the past month, Spafinder Users have: Listened to local radio stations online (39%) and checked bus, train or subway schedules (36.5%) online. These sites would be great areas to advertise your local Spafinder-​participating spas!

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.