A recent study lumps tanning in tanning beds in the same caustic category as arsenic and mustard gas. The tanning industry is simply a rental business, and the rental business can be very lucrative. Just ask my hero Wayne Huizenga who made billions from starting integrated rental businesses Waste Management, Blockbuster Video, and partly Autonation.
The franchise tanning industry has been positioning itself for a reduction in the ultraviolet tanning beds with the spray tan alternative. Most have purchase Mystic tanning beds (see video below) that can be rented in the same manner as bulb beds, plus some locations are offering spray-on artists to spray on manually that perfect tan with a high-end spraying device.
Spray tanning has been booming most evidently in the celebrity ranks, with many celebrities even hiring their own full time spra-on tan artists. Lindsey Lohan is even being sued for allegedly stealing the formula for her new spray tan retail line. All this points to tan growing trend (remember, the trend is your friend) of spray tanning consumers.
Can traditional tanning franchises offering spray tans grab a sustainable piece of this emerging spray tan market?
In the short term, probably yes. But it will take five-figures of investment and marketing for each location. Customers previously visited tanning salons to rent 20-minute increments on tanning beds because tanning beds were too expensive to purchase for the home. But, consumers can now buy spray tan bottles at Walgreens for $5. The key for the tanning salons is offering customers 1) the “spray on artists” and 2) machines that spray the perfect tan. Self application of tanning lotions can leave a person looking laughably orange if applied to heavily or unevenly, or left on too long. So the edge for tanning salons is to have machines and people that can give the tan glow with the spray. Until the self tan sprayers improve it application devices, such as offering inexpensive sprayers and improved formulas that tolerate lazy applicators, the tanning salons that make the investment in spray-on tanning should be able sustain themselves.
A key to growth is attracting woman over 30 years old who have all abandoned traditional tanning salons from their justified fears of UV-light skin damage. These women are currently spending $35 per bottle at department stores for spray tans. Below are a few videos on spray tanning.