Interview with Ms. Ruby Gu, the Founder of Rubis Spa
Mr. Danny, a Hong Kong native and his Shanghainese wife Ms. Ruby Gu opened the first Rubis SPA in downtown Shanghai in 1999, adhering to the concept of “pure skin beauty.” Later, in 2002, Rubis SPA launched “Aromatherapy stone treatment” and soon gained wide popularity as an Aromatherapy SPA. In 2005, Rubis Spa introduced the Swiss professional skincare brand ILLYSSIA, becoming the first SPA in China to use Swiss products. In 2008, it joined LRQA (Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance), the first quality certification system in the world approved by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service, to undergo rigorous ISO quality certification. In 2014, the first Rubis SPA in Switzerland was opened. In 2015, the company set up a Research & Development unit to learn from all the world’s cosmetic techniques and develop a series of skincare treatments enjoying high safety. In 2016, it opened its 17th Rubis SPA in Toronto, Canada.
As a pioneer in China’s beauty SPA industry focusing on high-end skincare, Rubis SPA is dedicated to introducing the latest skincare concepts and skills around the world. SpaChina interviewed Ms. Ruby Gu, co-founder of Rubis SPA.
What is the marketing positioning of Rubis SPA? Have customer needs and market demands change over the years?
Rubis SPA is positioned as a high-end SPA mainly targeting high-end customers who seek quality of life. Rubis SPA opened four stores within two years and the new customers make up 5%-10% of the total. We are able to transform every new customer to a regular customer. Rather than talk about changes our customers have undertaken, I want to tell you what adjustments Rubis SPA has made to meet the demands of the market and customers. Nowadays, people seek not only beauty and skincare, they also pursue body-mind-soul relaxation. So Rubis SPA has introduced body-mind-soul treatments to offer better services to our members. Today’s customers possess more holistic health awareness and choose treatments more sensibly for they know what fits them. Moreover, customers tend to be younger and younger.
Rubis SPA never spares in investment on hardware design and product & equipment selection. What are the reasons for this?
For a SPA, the most important thing is to let customers relax. A tranquil and elegant atmosphere and high quality hardware are key components for customers’ relaxation. High-end consumers care whether the consumption environment matches their identities. Hardware also reveals the quality and taste of a SPA.
We select top skincare products directly from Switzerland. Pure and serene, the country has never been polluted. As a well-known beauty nation, Switzerland is quite strict on beauty product qualities. The safety of Swiss products has been recognized worldwide. We use these products to win our customers’ trust.
Rubis SPA’s customers are high-end females who have profound knowledge about products quality and effects. Therefore, we introduced advanced beauty equipment from different regions of the world. In each of our stores, we have equipment worth at least one million RMB. I believe only globally-known equipment can meet customer demands concerning treatment effects and at the same time guarantee safety.
For example, Rubis SPA bought the Italian EXIMIA E7 intelligent device for slimming and firming treatments. The equipment features an artificial intelligence system that can design specific treatments targeting the skin conditions of different parts of the body. EXIMIA E7 offers a series of systematic solutions to heal the fat pathological changes of the body after making objective analysis on body form and posture, body flexibility, low limbs intravenous scanning, blood capillary, subcutaneous tissues, skin surface layer pigmentation, pH value, and epithelial membrane antigen, combined with relevant medical evaluations of endocrine, genetics, postures, angiography, nutriology and cosmetic surgery.
EXIMIA E7 is also equipped with a vacuum suction and pressure massage system. You need only to type in the skin test data and it will design for you the best therapeutic solution and control the power, pressure and frequency of the massage. The treatments can remove fat metabolite, reduce edema, and restore lymphatic smooth flows. The device can also penetrate into subcutaneous tissues and cut down on fat capacity, reduce fat cells’ size and promote metabolism. It is highly effective in combatting cellulite and fat accumulation. This bespoke treatment is 7,200 RMB per time.
For body conditioning, Rubis SPA used ICOONE, also an Italian brand. The body treatment is 8,660 RMB. Equal to three hours of aerobic exercise, the 30-minute ICOONE treatment can increase lymphatic detoxing and metabolism and thus eliminate edema and slackness. Both pieces of equipment are known as professionally unique with proven results and safety.
What does your R&D department care about most?
Rubis SPA’s R&D department is based in Switzerland. We pay special attention to introducing the latest skincare concepts and technology of the world into our treatments. I believe the frontier techniques and concepts are the results of accumulations of past experiences and analysis of abundant data. If we base our treatments on these, they are surely convincing and can last long.
EXIMIA E7 is a successful demonstration. In 2009 when Rubis SPA introduced EXIMIAE7, there were very few pieces of equipment like this in China. So the social media gave much coverage to it. Compared with the prevalent shaking method of weight-loss at that time, EXIMIAE7’s patent fat dissolving technique has a 10-year lead. Today, slimming equipment are crowding into China, but Rubis SPA has laid a solid foundation in this field and gained wide recognition among customers.
Recently, Rubis SPA has integrated the latest European technique of lymph detoxification and drainage with Chinese traditional acupoint massage in facial treatments, and has gained favorable feedback.
How many branch stores does Rubis SPA have now? How frequently do customers visit the SPA?
Rubis SPA has 17 stores worldwide. Although different cities vary in consumption levels, Rubis SPA generally target middle and high-end consumers. A treatment price range is from several hundred to several thousand RMB. In order to achieve better results, Rubis SPA recommends guests come once a week. About one third customers who pay more attention to their own beauty and wellness will come with such frequency.
You have made a clear division between reception, skin test, product introduction and treatment therapists. Why is that?
Rubis SPA target high-end customers who have more professional demands to service qualities of every aspect. We divide the services so that we can better control the service qualities. Moreover, every staff member has their own strong points. A clear division of labor will put each one’s talents into full play. For example, some are outgoing and skilled in communication while others are more restrained yet reliable.
Staff training is clearly important. How do you make employees remain positive and increase their loyalty to the company? What training is used for business development, and how do you train managers?
High-end customers demand high-quality brand benefits. Working in such a top SPA, employees’ self-value, happiness and impressions of the company will keep increasing. Every year, Rubis SPA insists on inviting famous experts from Europe to come and train the staff, telling them about the advanced global concepts, techniques and management knowledge so that our staff can provide better services to customers more professionally. Every month, staff at all the 15 stores in China gather together with the store manager to share ideas and experience. It is my management style to develop staff subjective initiative, give power to lower levels and center on democracy and fairness. Rubis SPA sticks to direct sales in order to guarantee service quality. Rubis SPA in China stays connected with overseas staff and management levels, making it possible to open stores in foreign countries.
Is there dynamic competition in the markets in which Rubis SPA operates? Do you have different business modes for stores in different regions?
The high-end market is always dynamic. All Rubis SPA stores are in first-tier cities, so there is no big difference in customers’ preferences. There is also a consistency in business modes, but the star treatments vary according to the specific conditions of different regions. For example, Canada is very cold, so we emphasize more on anti-ageing items while Shanghai has distinctive four seasons, so we design different treatments according to the seasonal needs of the skin.
How do you stand against the competition? How important is price?
My belief is that if there are peer competitors who share similar offerings as you, and you make improvements together, then the market can be expanded. Even in the same market, there are different types of customers, so naturally there will be different pricing. When customers have gained trust to your brand, and feel satisfactory in terms of service quality and treatment effects, they will not leave you even if competitors emerge. So price is not the key.
Rubis SPA is called an industry pioneer. What is your development plan for the future?
In fact Rubis SPA doesn’t want to be a pioneer. We just want to make continual improvements to meet the market’s ever-changing demands.