Having spent over two decades in the industry, Chang has seen many trends come and go, and he’s used his experience to help some of the biggest names in the spa world to crack the coveted China market. Most recently, Chang designed the hair spa concept for Kerastase in China, just in time for the brand’s 50th anniversary. That’s just one of the many brands he’s worked with over the years. Chances are, Chang has probably had his hand in at least a few of the spas you’ve visited in the country.
One of the key issues international brands, such as Four Seasons and Shangri-la, encounter when entering the Chinese market is adapting to the needs of the conservative spa-goers. The well-travelled Chinese consumer today might not shy away from medi-spas or results-driven treatments, but it was a different case just a decade ago.
“More and more spas have been converted into medi-spas and started having medical treatments, such as injections of hyaluronic acid, collagen and Botox in their own spas. Medical machines, such as Ulthera, Thermage and Intradermal Injections, which bring quick results, are also very hot right now,” says Chang.
The Chinese spa-goer is all about seeing results fast, but Chang says that doesn’t mean they’re not relying on traditional Chinese know-how when it comes to getting their beauty fix. And spas are answering this demand with treatments and products that are developed especially for this growing market.
“Many Western brands create their products and treatments with TCM elements and Chinese traditions in mind,” he explains. “Most imported brands noticed China is a land of make-up. Whitening products are used very early on, from the age of 20. Therefore, they have created a whitening and brightening line for the Mainland Chinese market.”
As to another trend that’s steadily gaining traction, Chang notes treatments that incorporate elements of martial arts. “A few brands have created some treatments to suit Chinese guests’ preferences. Wu Shu massage is one typical example. It is a deep tissue massage focusing on acupoints done with a rod. The results are really stunning.”
Helping international spa brands enter the Chinese market, Chang sees a stronger focus on concept building and good customer service. And while these spas generally offer little to no discount, customers are embracing the premium prices because they appreciate the premium treatments.
Bringing Western traditions to China might be what Chang’s noted for, but the industry insider has greater hopes for the Chinese spa scene. In fact, he’s trying his hand at bringing Chinese well-being know-how to the West; he’s working with Brilliant Resort and Spa at the moment, bringing its treatments to neighbouring Hong Kong. The open-minded spa-goers in the city make it the perfect playground to test out these treatments that are heavy in authentic Chinese influences.
“Brilliant is the first resort spa in China which uniquely combines TCM with Western aromatherapy techniques. Treatments that incorporate principles of TCM are getting more and more popular worldwide. Tui Na facial and body massage and facial cupping therapy are very popular in London. Shanghainese pedicure is one of the most highly sought-after treatments in Hong Kong.”