After successfully launching and operating a series of small facial and spa businesses Marcia Kilgore opened the first Bliss Spa in SoHo, NYC, in 1996. Popularity of the spa skyrocketed and the brand was acquired by LVMH in 1999 for a reported $30 million. Ownership changed twice more first to Starwood Hotels & Resorts and most recently to Steiner Leisure Limited for $100 million.
Often attributed with launching the spa boom of the late 90’s, Bliss was clearly differentated from competitors by a quirky style and sense of humor that translated into fun, punning names for treatments and products, indulgent offerings like brownies in the spa and R&B music playlist rather than the meditative or new-age fare that was then common in many spa settings.
With the consistent and dramatic financial growth of Bliss, its competitors began to gradually shift in their perception of the brand and business. Over time, initial impressions of Bliss as being outside the norm of a spa changed into a a view of Bliss as a template for success.
In many cases competing brands have modeled their own offerings extremely closely on Bliss. The most visible examples of this are in the package design of competing brands that amount to outright knockoffs of Bliss products.
Bliss launched with a distinct vision and became a leader based on its unique position, but the market has caught up with it and it’s success has been emulated by increasing numbers of competitors.
To stop the erosion of differentiation the Studio Red team at Rockwell Group developed a clear strategy for Bliss to refocus the offerings and shore up the brand.