Mike Indursky, President, Bliss World, recently spoke with Beauty Insider about taking the firm’s 15-year-old vision of beauty and evolving it into one that better reflects today’s idea of what beauty means: well-being and leading a healthy lifestyle. Here, Mike talks about his new “lifestyle” vision for Bliss—from spa to product—and what helps him achieve a higher state of happiness.
BI: We are speaking today to discuss your new vision for Bliss. Can you tell me about it?
MI: What’s happening is the vision is really about going from this great brand that was once simply known for its spa services for your skin and expanding that same belief into a lifestyle brand. Bliss was founded based on a need for de-stressing in the mid-Nineties. Since then, the spa industry and our consumers’ needs have evolved. Now, people are concerned more about leading a lifestyle of health and well-being – we strongly believe that spa is a crucial component. Our mission is to empower people to ‘achieve a higher state of happy.’ We believe, and every one of our 500-plus spa technicians believe, that Bliss delivers happiness. Happiness is more relevant now than ever before. That’s why, for instance, there are 22,000 books out on being happy on Amazon.com alone. It’s important to us that we bring the story of well-being to life online, in spa and in retail. We are rolling it across everything we do in terms of spa services and products. We plan to get this message across all of our channels. For instance, last year, we helped consumers achieve a higher state of happy at home by launching starter-sets: at-home versions of our famous in-spa treatments, such as Triple Oxygen Facial and fatgirlslim treatment. We know that consumers love the chance to get the in-spa treatment at home. Regarding our changes in spa, we recently launched a spa service that puts a smile on your face: Rhythm & Bliss Massage. The massage is tailored to a music playlist of your choice; the therapist massages to the speed and pressure of the music. It’s incredible.
BI: Do you see this as the next natural evolution of the brand? Or is this a reaction to market needs?
MI: It’s both. And that’s the way it should be. This isn’t about random happiness, but one that’s achieved in experiencing ultimate well-being, de-stressing and unwinding.
BI: How many spas are you operating now?
MI: We just opened up our 21st spa in St. Petersburg Russia in a W Hotel there. We have a long-standing relationship with Starwood. Eighteen of our 21 spas are located in W properties.
BI: How is the business performing?
MI: Bliss revenue was up in 2011, about 10% across the brand, with really strong growth in spa. We also saw an increase in 2010. We are very well balanced between product and spa and that makes a healthy business. Our strategy is to innovate in spa, come up with new services, and then launch product. A new one is fatgirlshrink, an ionithermie service, and the product relevant to the service launches a couple of months after we see how the service performs in the spa. That’s how we do it.
BI: How is the firm’s international business?
MI: We just opened up South Korea, Russia and Turkey and now we are launching in Scandanavia. The strategy varies by market but ideally what we like to do in a focused market is have spa and retail representation. For example, in Hong Kong we have a spa and also distribution in Lane Crawford in China. In Russia we have a spa in St.Petersburg and distribution in Rive Gauche. We are working with Brazil now. They see this brand and are excited about. It has great American pop icon appeal.
BI: Since joining Steiner Leisure, what challenges have you faced that you may not have anticipated?
MI: The biggest challenge is having 700 employees. While I knew the number going in, most of them touch the consumer. Because of that the relationship, it’s important for me to reach out to them and vice versa. They are really touching the guest. They need to know they have my support. While we have an infrastructure with regional heads and human resources, I feel it’s important to keep a connection with the technician.
BI: What are some of things that needed changing when you first joined Bliss?
MI: What we had found was that our channels were working independently—and that wasn’t the most effective use of our integrated marketing efforts. We made sure that new product launches were thoroughly supported in spa, in retail and online with the same message. Our spas feed our products, which feed retail, which feed the catalogue. It’s always been this way – but we needed to better harness the power of our heritage to tell our story. We did this, for instance, with the launch of Fabulips, a popular in-spa service that’s a facial for your lips. We created an at-home version of this and executed the launch by telling the spa story. From a custom-made video, social media and consumer events, we brought to life this spa service so that consumers could achieve the spa experience at home.
BI: How do you ‘achieve a higher state of happy’?
MI: The Triple Oxygen Facial. I’d rather have that than a massage.
BI: What’s the most exciting aspect of your job?
MI: Creating the vision and going after it. It’s so much bigger than the brand that exists. I couldn’t imagine working day-to-day to get 1% to 3% (growth) a year.
BI: What is Bliss’s number-one selling product?
MI: Our Fabulous Foaming Face Wash. It’s a staple in every W Hotel.