Americans continue to seek out complementary health therapies, national survey finds


Here’s good news for your spa and massage therapy practice. Americans continue to spend a significant amount of the dollars they spend on health care on alternative therapies. A national survey reveals that about 59 million Americans spent over $30.2 billion out-of-pocket on complementary health approaches. The finding comes from an analysis by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative  Health (NCCIH), part of the National Institutes of Health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). The findings just released indicate that among the different types of complementary approaches, Americans spent:

  • $14.7 billion out-of-pocket on visits to complementary practitioners such as chiropractors, acupuncturists, or massage therapists. That is almost 30 percent of what they spent out-of-pocket on services by conventional physicians.
  • $12.8 billion out-of-pocket on natural product supplements, which was about one-quarter of what they spent out-of-pocket on prescription drugs
  • $2.7 billion on books, CDs, and other self-help materials related to complementary health (The mean annual out-of-pocket expenditure per user was $257.)

The average out-of-pocket expenditure per user for complementary health approaches was $435 for people with family incomes of less than $25,000 and $590 for those with family incomes of $100,000 or more. This indicates that as income increased, so does the amount of out-of-pocket spending on complementary therapies.


Boost marketing to take advantage of the trend

With an interest in complementary therapies strong, you want to get out the word about your spa or massage therapy practice this summer. Here are some easy ways to boost marketing:

Email summer offerings: Send out a special email to customers who haven’t been in for a while with a special summer massage sale pricing.  Also, consider sending a text message to clients when you have a day that’s particularly slow, encouraging them to drop in for a special deal of the day, or text about a retail product that helps counteract the harsh, drying effects of the summer sun on skin.

Get social: Focus your social media efforts on the value of massage to heal aching muscles and joints from too much exercise and summer sports.

Offer incentives for referral: Set up a referral program with your social media followers whereby they get a discount for referring a new client.


Be visible at community events. If your community has a summer street fair, consider having a booth and offering free neck massage and skincare advice. If the cost is high, consider sharing a booth with another business with complementary services such as a gym.

With consumers increasingly seeking out complementary therapies, you want to be sure your spa or massage practice is a top choice.

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