Consumer Attitudes Towards the Sanctuary Spa in Nairobi

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CONSUMER ATTITUDES TOWARDS THE SANCTUARY SPA IN NAIROBI

Health retreat’s and Spas are a rapidly growing sector of the tourism industry. Spa selection criteria according to (Anderson, 2011) are determined by a number of factors. An established and known environment for instance, as part of a well-known resort, club or destination spa, often influences the decision, as does the atmosphere, quality of treatment, and friendliness’s of staff. Consumer demand is driving the growth, people are searching for an escape from work related stress, and they are realizing the long-term benefits of taking care of themselves (Loverseed, 1998). A Spa can be described as an establishment that is visited by guests seeking therapy and relaxation (Wefixhvac, 2002).The word spa originates from the Latin verb spagere - to pour forth (Spa finder, 2006). (Brown, 2014) Stated that the concept of a Spa is hardly new: the word “Spa” is derived from the Latin, solacium per aquam, meaning, “comfort through water.”

Modern spa tourism has evolved globally, from the first small businesses of the 1980s and 1990s into one of the world’s largest (and youngest) leisure industries, amplified by the formation of its trade body, the International Spa Association (ISPA) (Anderson, 2011). Africa is still a small but emerging spa market and the industry is concentrated in a handful of wealthier countries and upscale tourism destinations (e.g., South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, and Seychelles). The number of recognized spas is estimated at 389, with $276 million in revenues and 7,273 employees. Like in the Middle East, the African spa industry is dominated by high-end hotel/resort spas and a small number of destination spas and health resorts catering to wealthy foreign tourists – together, these accounts for over 78% of the region’s spa industry revenues. Besides for the North African countries, the only country with an appreciable local day/club/salon spa market is South Africa (Simonato, 2013).

Spa tourism however, is a relatively new concept of tourism in Kenya hence the introduction of spa resorts and various gyms, health tourism is growing by the day. Most tourists visit the coastal areas to have their bodies covered with special mud which is medicinal for the skin complexion. Available data for health and spa tourism in Kenya is also very limited as a result there is currently no reliable data available on spa tourism consumers and the industry as a whole. Most Spas’ in Nairobi normally rely on word of mouth advertising.

The Sanctuary Spa is a Day Spa located in a serene environment in Lavington, Nairobi city. They provide various Spa treatments as well as other body wellness treatments such as Massages, waxing, Manicure and facial treatments for better Skin and enhancement such as Laser and Ozone therapies.

There are several challenges in promoting the Spa industry in Kenya. Since it is relatively a new concept there is definitely a gap between the Spa industry and Consumers in terms of understanding the Spa and its benefits, treatments that are involved as well as promoting the Spa market (Simonato, 2013). There are several challenges which are involved which include;

1. Competition: There is a lot of competition especially with some businesses offering beach massage services at lower rates. These of course reduce the number of clients that would have otherwise patronised the spa establishments in the hotels and resorts.

2. Hygiene: proper hygiene conditions are lacking in some establishments which offer lower services for the same products.

3. Products: these are very expensive to ship especially from Europe as a result, the costs of spa treatments are very high and some tourists do not want to pay the high charges. However, most establishments are coming up with alternative products having the same effects.

4. Lack of conception to what a massage is: guests who are uncooperative and want more than the massage service. The aspect of religion and tradition comes into play where women are allowed to touch only women.

5. Lack of proper training: most people are not trained well in the area of Spa therapy most employees have basic massage knowledge and not in other treatment areas (Simonato, 2013).

There is therefore an urgent need to educate consumers in this field. However many consumers still do not understand what a Spa is and thus they do not see themselves in the Spa market hence making this experience relevant to the consumer is very essential. This paradigm shift according to (McNeil & Edna, 2005) creates a challenge for spa marketers as they attempt to meet their consumers’ needs effectively. Spa consumers are looking for a nurturing and healing place where they can enjoy community time, and have shared experiences with friends, relatives and spouses (Simonato, 2013). Less emphasis is being placed on physical appearance and more on inner balance and well-being. Spas are providing more opportunities for improving the mind and body. Another challenge for spa marketers is staying abreast of the changes in the spa consumer profile.

Literature Review:

“a spa serves as an educational and cultural institution that promotes and integrates individual wellness, health and fitness as well as social well-being, harmony and balance through wellness, prevention, therapy and rehabilitation of body, mind and soul” (Loverseed, 1998)

(Anderson, 2011) States that gender demographics also play a role in spa demand, as men are more likely to go for regular weekly visits after business hours or while travelling on business. Women, however, often visit spas during regular business hours.

The worldwide spa industry is worth in the region of US $40 billion and has grown at a phenomenal rate in the past ten years (Haden, 2007). The growth of health food, gyms and the investment in leisure facilities proves that consumers are looking for more than relaxation during a break or holiday; this is unsurprising given time is so precious to contemporary consumers (Lynch, 2002). (Harmsworth, 2004) Claims that “the spa market is one of the fastest growing leisure sectors, where societal trends and aspirations find instant reflection in the developments on both the demand and supply sides. The market is very fragmented, each segment catering for different customer needs, which continuously change in line with social and lifestyle changes.”

The classification of spa tourists is limited in terms of who they are and what motives and factors are behind their visit. Previous research into spa tourists has focused on their classification with regards to why they visit spas. It has largely concerned itself with the behaviours; attitudes and needs of people which make them decide to take a holiday or short break at a spa in particular. This research will attempt to broaden the depth of knowledge in the field of spa tourism by establishing a classification of spa tourists, it will be based not only on why people decide to use spas but also the factors which affect their choice of spa, thus incorporating the facilities and treatments on offer, and their spa holiday experience or feedbacks (Hunter-Jones, 2000). The spa should be staffed by appropriately trained therapists and have minimum standards of furnishings. The water should be enhanced with minerals, either naturally or with an additive (Mintel, 2005).

According (Swarbrooke & Horner, 1999) the development of health tourism and spas has concentrated on two different market segments. The first market consists of those who visit spas for their health alone; the second segment incorporates those seeking other more varied kinds of tourism, looking for well-being, beauty, and recreation. This theory is also found in the work of (Hunter-Jones, 2001)who attempted to segment two different types of health tourism and spa consumers: recreational consumer and medical consumer. Many authors reject the idea that people can be split into just two categories in terms of their reasons for participating in spas (Hall, 1992). Others argue that people’s demands at a spa will vary from beauty health care (Gilbert & Van De Weerdt, 1991) (Goodrich & Goodrich, 1991) to more specific reasons, such as physical body satisfaction, fitness, and weight loss (Philips & Drummond, 2001) (Jenner & Smith, 2000). (Becheri, 1989) Classifies spa tourists into four categories: people looking for relaxation, people wishing to delay their ageing, people wanting a short break weekend, and people concerned with illness prevention. (Marvel, 2002) Argues that the motivations for spa tourists visiting a spa are be beauty, longevity treatments, relaxation, and tranquillity or a respite from hectic lifestyles. There are several motivational factors that intrigue a consumer to go to a Spa to get a treatment done (Haden, 2007).

The following diagram shows the buyer decision process one has to follow and the stages that are involved when purchasing a product/service (Kotler & Armstrong, 2003). This same model may be applied for customers who also go to Spas and consume Spa treatments and services as shown in figure 1 below:

Figure 1

Need recognition: during this stage a need is recognised through internal or external stimuli. For example the need of wanting a body Spa treatment.

Information Search: one gathers information related to the need. It can be internal or external research. I.e. Related to our previous example of body Spa one will want to gather information using internet, newspapers, magazines etc. as well as look around in shops various types of treatments that are being offered what does it consist of and what are its benefits of receiving this treatment?

Evaluation of alternatives: Considering the decision options available. this is analysing and evaluating and eliminating all the given options one has been given during their information search stage. E.g. if one wants to purchase a body spa treatment from several various kinds of treatments offered in order for one to reach their desired decision out of Ten Spa treatments one will eliminate this and scale it down to three treatments to enable an individual to make a choice.

Purchase decision: this is purchase intention. This stage involves two factors involved; attitudes of others and unexpected situational factors. E.g. you decided on the purchase of the Spa treatment.

Post-purchase behaviour: after purchasing what are the benefits and overall satisfaction of a given product, service, project, investment. During this stage cognitive dissonance occurs. E.g is the individual satisfied with the overall performance of the Spa treatment (Kotler & Armstrong, 2003).

Objectives:

  1. To analyse what motivates consumers to go to The Sanctuary Spa in Nairobi.
  2. To determine the perceptions of current customers of The Sanctuary Spa in Nairobi.
  3. To investigate the demographic and psychographic characteristics of consumers of The Sanctuary Spa in Nairobi.

Methodology:

1.0 RESEARCH DESIGN

The research design consists of Qualitative and Quantitative methods. The primary data will be collected through communication, that is, an interview with the director of The Sanctuary Spa – Mrs. Jacqui Nandhra. The communication method through which the information will be collected from Mrs. Jacqui Nandhra will be through an In-depth Interview as well as survey collected through current users of The Sanctuary Spa.

The In-depth interview allows the researcher to gain more insight into the Business (e.g. The Sanctuary Spa) as well as gain valuable information that would help better the research (Zikmund, 2003).

2.0 POPULATION The researcher will take a sample of the population because of its large size of expected 100. The sampling method to be used will be Non-probability sampling. Under Non-probability sampling convenience sampling will be used.

  1. SAMPLING

3.1 SAMPLING FRAME

For this research the sampling frame will be individual respondents (Both Male & Female) aged between 17 – 55 years within Nairobi.

3.2 SAMPLING METHOD

Sampling methods can be classified as either probability or non-probability. Under Non-probability sampling, Convenience Sampling will be used. The Researcher will use convenience sampling technique because it is fast, convenient and an affordable method to gather vital information quickly.

  1. SAMPLING SIZE

The Researcher will select 30 people randomly current users of The Sanctuary Spa.

3.4 DATA COLLECTION METHOD

A self-administered questionnaire comprising of three sections will be developed to include items concerning The Sanctuary Spa. The issues addressed in the questionnaire will be whether respondents visit The Sanctuary Spa, why they prefer The Sanctuary Spa, what services they look for in a Beauty & Skin Care Spa’s among others. The questionnaire will be administered to a random sample of 30 respondents within Nairobi.

3.5 DATA ANALYSIS

Standard editing and coding procedures will be utilized in analyzing the data that needs to be collected. Simple tabulation will also be used. The Software Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) will be used to analyze and tabulate the data. The variables from the questionnaire will be input into SPSS. The researcher will then input the responses from 30 questionnaires into SPSS. After all the responses are input; frequencies, cross-tabulations and graphs will be formulated to analyze the data gathered from the respondents. The researcher will then came up with hypotheses and based on the relevant tests conducted such as T-tests and Chi Square tests, the hypotheses will either be accepted or rejected.

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