Regulatory restrictions

There are health and safety restrictions governed by the Health and Safety Act 1974 There are consumer rights to be aware of too. There is no legal requirement for health and beauty therapists to be registered. However, the majority of practicing therapists belong to one or another (or more than one) trade body as it is normally a condition of their insurer or employer that they are accredited to one of the recognized industry organizations. The leading organisations in the health and beauty treatment market are:

The British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (BABTAC) were established in 1977 and have 9,500 members who are all beauty or holistic therapists in the UK. The Federation of Holistic Therapists has 21,000 members who are beauty, sport or complementary therapists. The Guild of Professional Beauty Therapists, which was launched in 1994, has 6,000 members. The Association of Reflexologists has 8,529 members, of which 6,030 are actively practicing reflexology. The Sunbed Association, which represents tanning salons, has 1,500 members.

It estimates that it represents only 20% of the total sunbed operator market. There are many other organizations, some of which have less than 1,000 members. Significant trends According to a report from Mintel database "Issues in the Market" tells us 'Image is everything'. Consumers are increasingly concerned with the way they look, a trend that looks set to continue. To this end, they are prepared to splash out on health and beauty treatments, such as tanning, anti-ageing, facials, manicures, pedicures and alternative therapies. Looking good is top priority.

Hair removal, manicure/pedicure, eyelash and eyebrow tints are the most popular beauty treatments with consumers, reflecting the emphasis placed on physical appearance. Although UV sunbed tanning is still popular particularly with the younger generation of consumers, the business has taken a stance not to incorporate treatments that have proven health concerns. However as artificial tanning is also boosting the tan shop sector, by incorporating this type of treatment the business can widen its target audience by bringing in an entirely new profile of consumer.

Growth rates A report from Mintel database 'Issues in the Market' shows consumers are spending more on health and beauty treatments, figures have risen by 174% between 2000 and 2006 to reach just over i?? 1. 5 billion. By 2011, this figure is expected to reach i?? 1. 8 billion. Competitive market Latest industry figures have found that average prices for treatments had fallen compared to 2005. This partly reflected a higher proportion of home-based and mobile therapists (who tend to charge less) in the sample.

But it is also indicative of the competitive nature of the industry as more practitioners enter the arena. As a new-comer to the market, I will be incorporating the home therapies as an option to the business. Men are more inclined to have treatments than in the past. However, beauty salons have a limited appeal for them as they tend to be rather female-oriented and this has channelled them to certain types of outlet such as those found in health clubs and leisure centres. The business will aim, over time, to target this market.

The report also suggests that hair salons are the place most people choose to have beauty treatments, while specialist beauty salons are the next most favoured venue. Other popular choices include health clubs and hotels. Moving forward Going forward rates of growth are likely to be maintained by making treatments more affordable and accessible. Practitioners will also be concentrating on increasing the frequency of use of treatments, aiming to establish them as part of consumers' regular beauty regimes. There is also likely to be increasing focus on exploiting the more niche markets such as treatments for men.