Interview with Ms. Liu Qing, the Founder of Green SPA Management and Consultancy
In 2001, the first Green Massage opened at Shanghai Xintiandi. Now Green Massage, together with Green SPA, has become the leading industry brand in Shanghai.
Brand and quality are particularly stressed by Ms. Liu Qing, the Founder of Green SPA. Since the group’s high-end branch brand Urban Retreat entered the Portman Ritz-Carlton Shanghai in 2012, more international brand hotels have come to invite Ms. Liu Qing to cooperate. But she always has specific considerations when choosing partners.
After three years’ preparation, a new group brand debuted in Beijing in 2016 – Green Essence, located at the most stylish area of Beijing, Sanlitun. Covering 3,000 square meters, Green Essence integrates SPA, high quality fitness, an infinite landscape swimming pool and Tea Lounge. Combining grace and style, energy and serenity, Green Essence has set the benchmark of quality life in Beijing.
For the past 16 years, Ms. Liu Qing has accomplished an amazing transformation. As a business woman working on the frontline, she also has a happy marriage and two lovely kids. She infuses the gentleness and care of a mother into her career as well. Green SPA has won many awards in the past 16 years and has been awarded successively by SpaChina in 2015 and 2016.
Green Massage leaves a deep impression on guests with its artful design. What are the key goals on design?
What we want to deliver to our guests is not only a store or a treatment, but rather a brand’s cultural value. We don’t deliver it by what we say alone, but through every detail guests face after they step into the store. The environment gives the most direct feeling. That’s why we attach much important to the design of each store.
Green Massage advocates “Serene Lifestyle.” This is our understanding of a high quality life. A design combining both traditional and modern elements – an integration of Chinese classical culture and modern art aesthetics, traditional Chinese medicine therapies and Western spa theories – can best deliver our concept to the guests. We hope that every guest can enjoy a full realm of culture, art or even philosophy in our elaborately designed space to achieve true comfort in the body, mind and soul.
What is the market positioning of Green SPA?
Green Massage is the middle-high end brand of Green SPA. At the beginning, our customers were mainly females and foreign guests with strong consumer power and aged between 30 and 45. But with the changes of lifestyles among Chinese, now the male-female ration turns to be even and domestic guests are the mainstream.
The brand concept of Green SPA has been gradually accepted by the increasingly open consumer ideas in China. We are much pleased with this market trend and we have fully prepared for it.
However, the domestic consumer market doesn’t remain unchanged, so we should keep exploring and expanding. The “SPA+” mode is what we are trying at present, aiming to bring our customers more innovative and high quality options.
Has there been any change or evolution in your business positioning and treatments development since the foundation?
We pay special attention to evolution and updating. Green SPA is a faithful advocate of high standard service and elegant environment. All the offerings aim to provide better services to the customers. Therefore, providing a consistency with brand positioning, we focus on customers’ needs when doing business and developing treatments.
Our new Chinese-style therapies launched in recent years are a response to customer feedback. Modern office people have been in sub-health status with continual working and living pressures. An integration of moxibustion, TCM regulation and Chinese herbal hot compress effectively dredges the meridian channels and stimulates blood circulation. Such targeting treatments are much applauded by our customers.
In operations, we do accurate customer group segmentation and carry out specific business modes to each group. Each brand – Green Massage, Urban Retreat and Green Essence – is positioned distinctively to meet the demands of certain customer groups by designing specific treatments and services for them.
What are your guidelines for developing new treatments?
We are very careful while developing new treatments. Firstly, we observe market requirements, general trends, other popular products and the changes in customer preferences. After noting the overall development trends of the industry, we then make proper strategies and develop products fit for the market.
Secondly, according to our observations over the years, we believe that customers’ feelings have the final say. So we always probe into our customers’ true needs, analyze their feelings towards products, observe their physical status and thus keep positive communications with them. We attach particular importance to the advice and suggestions from our loyal customers who have been with us for years.
Finally, the core of treatment development is the benefit to the body, namely how to make customers more healthy. This is also what customers focus on most in addition to comfort. The right treatments and products can solve body’s certain problems and restore the body to healthy and comfortable conditions. This demands us to have a full understanding of customers’ physical status. This is our biggest competitive power.
Therefore, treatment development is a holistic process which incorporates knowing market changes and customers’ feelings, adjusting product structure, and updating product packaging. Green SPA will also make some sensible predictions with regard to the market in order to stay flexible.
Like any other product, SPA offerings are also judged by their price/performance ratio. It is important for the customers to experience the due environments, services, skills and products that match its price. The treatment effects may vary to different people because every individual’s physical needs are different, so we provide product packages which features high diversity to update customers’ experience. The best example is our signature Green Massage Range, which is developed and updated according to this concept and no wonder it is one of the most popular offerings among our customers.
Are there any differences in the attitudes toward SPA consumption among customers in different parts of China?
Modern people have long been living under high pressure from work and family. Especially in first-tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai, people’s consumption patterns keep changing and demands keep increasing. Truly, people in difference places vary in their SPA preferences. People in northern China are more bold and generous, so they naturally love wider spaces and therapeutic massages. People in southern China are more restrained, so they focus more on the privacy of the space, exquisiteness of the design and prefer more sensory SPA treatments. But due to the frequent migration of modern people among different cities, I think the regional differences in SPA consumption are becoming less and less obvious. So it is our consistent policy to add some new elements into traditional practices and create a high quality lifestyle for modern consumers. That’s why we launched the new brand Green Essence in Sanlitun last year, aiming to meet modern people’s expectations toward healthy life with a holistic approach.
Tell us about your mum-infant and Pilates programs. Why did you decide to involve them into your SPA operations?
After my daughter Serena and son Quentin were born, I shifted my focus to my family. This gave me a deeper understanding of myself, as well as many females like me. Like many females today, I have played several roles: a career woman, a daughter, a wife and a mother. Every role gives me certain responsibilities. I know what today’s females need and I hope to create a space for them to calm down and be pampered.
I myself benefitted a lot from mum-infant nursing and Pilates, so I want to share them with Green SPA friends. Mum-infant nursing can alleviate discomforts during pregnancy while Pilates is a rehabilitative training which causes little injury. They helped adjust my body to its natural status and gave me huge support for my post-pregnancy recovery and my daily life today. In addition, more and more females have updated consumer concepts and wellness focus. So we pay attention to the diversity of the services we provide, a unique selling point of Green SPA. We emphasize more on offering healthy lifestyle advice to them. The combination of SPA and Pilates is one such example.
Continual development is closely related to staff education and training. How does Green SPA handle it?
Green SPA is my second home and every member of staff is family. Ambience reveals the cultural connotations of an enterprise, so I attach much importance to the creation of good ambience. Now it’s been 16 years of Green SPA and I strongly feel that there are two pillars that mutually affect each other: the family ambience and the staff sense of belonging.
Green staff love to share with me their daily work and life, so that I can better understand their working and living conditions, and the company operations. I encourage every employee to be the spokesman of Green SPA. Their efforts in daily work and expression of their understanding to the brand culture are the best presentations of Green SPA’s philosophy.
During the induction training, every staff is required to sign a working ethics commitment, showing their responsibilities to themselves and the job. I firmly believe in self excellence and mutual respect. They grow up step by step with the brand and share their experiences with newcomers of the big family so that they not only offer help to others but also make improvement of their own.
As one of the oldest city wellness and SPA brands, Green SPA is widely known for its solid and steady business and operations. What is your development plan for the next five years?
We have clear goal for the next five years. Firstly, in business development, we plan to open more stores in landmark amd high-end department stores to gain more recognition among the mass media and customers. For sure, the market is a dynamic system, so we will keep adjusting and updating our goals with the changes to the market so that we can continually move forward.
Secondly, we will keep exploring and conveying the brand’s cultural value in addition to its commercial value. In the past, Green SPA has accumulated certain cultural deposits, namely the integration of traditional wellness and modern SPA, Oriental culture and Western technology. In the next five years, we will on the one hand keep developing and subliming the previous cultural concept, and on the other, infuse in more new content.
And lastly, we will go on focusing on our customers. All the things we create are in fact created for the customers. We hope to offer our customers a place for their mind and spirit, an experience place to enjoy with others, a cultivating space of culture and art, and a realm for life aesthetics learning.