SENS-ational Spa Showroom Trends in Retail

The experts are in agreement that one trend in particular continues to guide the spa showroom experience. That trend is experiential design. Gone are the days when customers strolled up and down aisles of shelved merchandise to find a product. These days when people take the time to visit a brick-and-mortar retail store, they expect an immersive experience. Experiential design provides just such an experience by appealing to customer senses. Let’s take a look at how experiential design plays out in a spa showroom.


Sensory Stimulation

Sound, smell, sight and touch can all trigger sense memories and emotions and feelings of comfort, satisfaction, safety, and trust. Experiential showroom design engages customers’ senses to evoke these positive emotions. Spa Retailer reports that “with every sense that’s entertained, the more we remember our shopping experience and the store.” Sensory prompts are easy to incorporate in your customers’ showroom experience.



You know that nostalgic feeling you get when you hear a certain song on the radio? How it brings to mind a certain memory or elicits a certain emotion? The type of music you play in your store can have a significant influence on the customer experience. Fast or slow, loud or soft, rock or classical, and relaxation sounds like waterfalls and bird songs can affect your customers’ perspective on their shopping experience.

In one study, the average increase of sales with slower tempo music was 38% more compared to faster tempo music.


Music can influence everything from mood to the amount of time customers spend in the store. Have you ever been listening to a song in the car and found yourself driving faster to songs with upbeat tempos and slower to songs with mellow tempos? The same thing happens in your store. Customers will move to the tempo. Faster, more upbeat songs will cause them to move faster, while slower, more relaxed tunes will cause them to move at a more leisurely pace. In fact, in one study, “the average increase of sales with slower tempo music was 38% more compared to faster tempo music.”

Choose the sounds you play in the store with care and avoid playing music too loud. Loud music may evoke a fun, party-like atmosphere, but when it interferes with the ability of customers to communicate with sales staff, the result is frustration. Frustrated customers are less likely to return. Whatever sounds you decide to incorporate, keep the volume at a moderate level.



What is the dominant scent in your hot tub showroom? Do you even know? You and your staff may be so accustomed to the smells that you don’t even notice them. Unfortunately, the customer who only comes in every month or so, and the first time customer, immediately recognize pervading scents when they enter the store. Common smells that you may not notice but your customers may find off-putting include these:

  • Chlorine
  • Cleaning agents
  • Chemicals
  • Perfumes
  • Cigarette smoke


Even the odor of freshly manufactured plastic and fiberglass spa surfaces can give your store an institutional vibe. Like sound, scent elicits feelings. Industrial odors don’t provide that comfortable, “at-home” feeling you want your customers to experience in your store. Additionally, employees should be discouraged from wearing strong colognes and perfumes, and they should be sure to smoke outdoors.

Whatever you do, don’t try to mask these smells with commercial air fresheners as these can have a negative effect on customers with allergies, asthma or other health issues. Instead, invest in high quality essential oil combinations. Just a few drops diffused throughout your store not only provides a pleasant aroma, but citrus blends such as lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit can also enhance memory and alertness in customers and employees. A survey by Nike “showed that customers increased their intent to purchase by 80 percent” when the shoe giant incorporated scent in their retail stores.



Spa showrooms absolutely must have visual appeal beyond just being clean and well-organized. In terms of experiential design, visual appeal means creating a narrative. David Ghiz of Imagine Backyard Living in Scottsdale Arizona uses vignettes to allow “people to get a vision of what the products might look like in their backyard.” Each of his vignettes “has a different design theme and different materials” providing a variety of concepts to his customers.

In terms of experiential design, visual appeal means creating a narrative.


When customers can see the possibilities right in front of them, they can see that spa in their own backyard. Julie Richards of Richards Total Backyard Solutions says “we have different vignettes for our hot tubs. Whatever we can put in their backyard we like to display so they know what their options are.”

Ghiz explains that “There’s a real strategy to the way [his showroom] is set up.” He “wanted people to go from area to area and discover ideas at every angle.” He “wanted areas where they could sit and talk.” Both Richards and Ghiz change their vignettes on a regular basis to provide alternate ideas for customers. They share the goal of providing their customers with both a destination experience and a store experience that truly stands out from the crowd.

Another trend with visual appeal is in shelving. Instead of traditional rectangular shelving with sharp edges and squared off corners, curved gondola and wall-mount shelves give the appearance of flowing along walls and through aisles. Shelves that mimic the flow of water would be a great addition to a spa showroom!



Some might wonder how touch factors into a spa showroom experience. What is there to feel? The fiberglass interior, the wood surround, the prefabricated steps? Well, yes, but there are other levels to engaging the sense of touch in a hot tub showroom.

The first should be common sense: keep your products clean! Imagine you’re talking to a customer who is running their hand over the silky, smooth surface of the spa interior wall. Now imagine that customer pulling back their hand and wiping dust on their jeans. Simply put, that is a negative sensory impression.

Test-soaks are the ultimate tactile experience.


The second, and most on-trend appeal to the sense of touch in the spa showroom, is the “try it before you buy it” offer. Test-soaks are the ultimate tactile experience and, while still a relatively new addition to retail showrooms, they are proving to be an excellent sales tool.

Townley Pools and Spas has a “mood room” that “features large murals of local waterfalls as well as 500 fiber optic lights in the ceiling to create a starry night effect.” David Townley designed it as “a place people can decompress, rather than just having a room with some drywall painted blue.” He says it “can be a very persuasive room.”


Tackling the Trend

The focus of the experiential design trend is on customer perspective. Today’s shoppers expect a personalized, purposeful showroom experience. In fact, in this particular trend, it’s about selling an experience more than a product. According to the National Retail Federation “the challenge for a retailer today is to rise above a line item on a to-do list; it’s to provide a solution to shoppers’ needs—in a way that gets the shopper to emotionally slow his pace and breathe.” In short, the latest trend is about making the store environment and the selling approach more emotionally engaged and less product-centric. Now, go forth and create your own spa showroom narrative!


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Lisa Garnier
Lisa Garnier

Lisa Garnier is a freelance writer and research expert. She writes articles, blogs and web content for a variety of businesses and industries. A graduate of UCM in Warrensburg Missouri, Lisa holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in English Composition and has previously taught English Composition at the university level. Since 2015, Lisa has been a contributing writer for BKA Content.

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