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Tanning industry grows into high-tech powerhouse with various offerings


INDIANAPOLIS – Once labeled a passing fad, the indoor tanning industry has not only survived throughout the years but continued to evolve into what it is today – a high-tech and sophisticated market that offers much more than just tanning services to its savvy clientele.

In the last three decades, the tanning industry has become a powerhouse, generating $5 billion annually through controlled tanning sessions and relaxation to more than 30 million Americans, according to Judie Bizzozero’s “State of the Industry Report 2007” in Looking Fit. There are about 20,000 professional indoor tanning salons and another 20,000 locations housing one to two tanning units.

Also, a large majority of independent salons are either in the middle of expanding their existing salons or planning to open more locations – and technology is offering a helping hand. According to Looking Fit’s 2008 Top 250 Facts and Figures report, U.S. salons are utilizing technology more than ever before. Ninety-seven percent of salon owners surveyed said they are computerized; 93 percent of salons use specialized salon management software; and 90 percent of salons have Internet access.

“I truly believe the information age has played a huge role in the change of the tanning industry,” said Patrick Daly, owner of Tan Zone locations throughout the U.S. “The consumer is hyper-educated on everything – if they have an interest, they research it on the Web and check out what salons have to offer.”

Amy Lickliter, who manages Daly’s Tan Zone salons in suburban Indianapolis, agrees.

“Most people these days are completely comfortable around high-tech electronic equipment,” Lickliter said. “By the time they make it to the salon door, I have to be the expert and at the top of my game or I will be at the back of the pack.”

Customers are also looking for more than just tanning services inside today’s salons. Thirty-five percent of salons offer at least one sunless booth and 11 percent offer sunless airbrush or turbine tanning, according to the Top 250 survey. Top salons are also carrying teeth-whitening solutions and light therapy products that offer skin rejuvenation sessions. The number of salons offering more than indoor tanning equipment is forecast to grow explosively in the future.

“What is happening in the tanning industry today is happening in every industry – it is becoming much more sophisticated and very customer-oriented,” said Marny Reed, director of product development at ETS Tan, the global leader in manufacturing and distributing indoor tanning beds. “What salons are trying to do is find out what they can offer their customers to help them look and feel their best.

“Also, the anti-aging, skin rejuvenation wave has hit. We are entering a marketplace where consumers are more educated and seek less invasive, affordable alternatives to dermatologists and plastic surgeons.”

Indianapolis-based ETS Tan continues to help lead the way for salons, being the first to offer new products such as the Rejuvasun™ with Omnilux™, a commercial-grade spa bed that now features FDA-cleared, medically proven light therapy panels ( Consumers have the option to experience light therapy sessions for the face and neck areas alone or with full-body tanning.

And in March, ETS Tan announced its partnership with Carlsbad, Calif.-based ShineWhite™ to be a national distributor of the patented, FDA-approved teeth-whitening system (

“ETS Tan is giving salon owners the opportunity to add more products to their line so they can bring in more customers – more repeat customers – and satisfy all customer needs in one place,” Reed said. “Many salons are starting to offer spa services and Hydro massage services. If we can offer something else that the customer is looking for, they can just go to one place and get those kinds of services taken care of for a more reasonable price than going from place to place.”

The one-stop-shop route for tanning salons will help appeal to a wider demographic, said Tan Zone owner Daly, and the goal is to evolve with the client and their demands. “People welcome the ‘all-inclusive’ feel of the salon and beds these days,” he said. “The more services someone can fit into a 20-minute time frame, the better.”

But coming to the tanning salon still offers customers a sophisticated environment full of educated professionals. According to the State of the Industry Report 2007, today’s salon owner is a professional with a long-term commitment to the future of the tanning industry – the average salon has been in business for about 10 years.

“Our hope is that when guests come in, we can educate them on the benefits of building a healthy tan and proper skincare, then see that they’re given an unexpected experience that will keep them coming back,” Lickliter said. “We do much more than just check people in to tan – it has evolved into a highly professional career.”

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ETS Tan LLC, headquartered at 7445 Company Drive in Indianapolis, is the world’s largest manufacturer and supplier of indoor tanning beds and provides the latest in tanning equipment and technology to companies including The Tan Company, Planet Beach Tanning Spa, Ultra Tan and Malibu Tanning. ETS Tan and sister companies Australian Gold and Helios are part of The New Sunshine LLC. For more, call ETS Tan at (800) 720-3458 or visit or


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 indoor tanning
 ETS Tan
 tanning salon

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