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Want to expand aesthetic dermatology business? Appeal to men



– Bringing more men into an aesthetic dermatology practice can expand the patient population, increase business revenue, and pay long-term dividends in terms of patient loyalty and repeat business.

But men aren’t like women when it comes to aesthetic concerns, so the strategies used to market your aesthetic offerings to female patients might miss the mark with men, cautioned Terrence Keaney, MD.

Dr. Terrence Keaney James Dick

Dr. Terrence Keaney

Men are less cosmetically savvy and need more upfront education and counseling, Dr. Keaney said at the 2018 Orlando Dermatology Aesthetic and Clinical Conference.

“I spend more time explaining therapies and what might be best for them,” he noted. “I explain the scientific rationale and treatment mechanisms so they will be more comfortable.” Making sure they understand is important, because “men often nod and don’t ask questions.”

The extra effort up front can pay off.

“The beauty of men is when they get a great result and are happy with you, men are very physician loyal. Once they get a great result, they’re yours forever,” said Dr. Keaney, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at George Washington University, Washington, and a private practice dermatologist in Arlington, Va.

Cost is the leading deterrent for men to embrace aesthetic procedures, a factor that also ranks first among women. Men are also concerned that results will not look natural and want information about safety and side effects, Dr. Keaney said. “These deterrents can be overcome with proper education and counseling.”

Marketing to men is different

Although growing a male anesthetic patient base is more difficult, Dr. Keaney recommends it, especially for dermatology practices in a competitive market.

This tactic of targeting untapped markets to grow a business, rather than competing on the same level as everyone else, is outlined in a book he recommends, “Blue Ocean Strategy,” by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. “It’s about unlocking new demand, and I will argue that, in aesthetic medicine, it’s those male patients.”

“The male aesthetic market is truly untapped and shows tremendous growth potential,” Dr. Keaney said. “Particularly as millennials age, the demand for cosmetic procedures in men will only increase.”

A first step is to make male aesthetic patients feel welcome and comfortable. “Think about a reluctant male patient walking into your office; it can be intimidating if the staff and everyone in the waiting room is female,” Dr. Keaney said. “But you don’t need to put a keg in the corner, either.” He added more wood and changed the colors of his office, for example.

Don’t go overboard

Marketing aesthetic services to men is also different, a lesson Dr. Keaney learned from the outset.

“When I first started a practice, I wanted to attract more male cosmetic patients, and I decided to throw a male cosmetics seminar,” he recalled. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to educate them.”

He partnered with a plastic surgeon, rented a ballroom, sent out an e-blast, and mailed flyers. “We had zero RSVPs. We canceled it.”

He added, “Men are not sitting at the computer thinking, ‘I wish someone would throw a seminar on aesthetics.’”

A better strategy came the following year as a men’s health event with a broader scope. A urologist, internist, dermatologist, and plastic surgeon talked about a variety of health issues. “They were blown away by the options from the dermatologist and the plastic surgeon.”

A growing market

An American Society for Dermatologic Surgery annual survey reveals dermatologic surgeons performed nearly 10.5 million medically necessary and cosmetic procedures in 2016, the latest year for which results are available. The rate is up 5% from the year before, and up by more than 30%, compared with 2012.

“Within the growth of procedures performed, the male and millennial demographics’ interest in cosmetic treatments also continues to rise,” the survey authors noted. “In the last 5 years, men receiving wrinkle relaxers has increased 9%, and men using soft-tissue fillers grew from 2% to 9%.” The survey also reveals that patients younger than 30 years are seeking more cosmetic treatments. In fact, millennials’ use of wrinkle relaxers increased 20% from 2015, and 50% since 2012.

Address the top male aesthetic concerns

Men are interested in looking healthy, young, and staying fit, Dr. Keaney said, but there is often a disconnect in the male market. “I would argue the real rate limiter is education,” he explained, “and that both the industry and physicians are at fault.”

Most messages about aesthetic procedures have not been targeted toward men. For example, only 39% of 600 aesthetically inclined men knew about dermal fillers in a study Dr. Keaney co-authored (Dermatol Surg. 2016 Oct;42[10]:1155-63).

“I talk to men in my practice about dermal fillers, and most think they’re only for injection in the lips,” he said. The results of the online survey came from men “cosmetically on the cusp,” as he described them – men familiar with neuromodulators for facial rejuvenation, but who had never tried such a therapy.

Tear troughs, double chin, crow’s feet, and forehead lines were the most common concerns, in order, reported by study participants. Dr. Keaney said. “You’ll notice what is missing here: the cheeks, the nasolabial folds, and the lips. And what are those? The FDA-approved indications for dermal fillers.”

Even though it doesn’t top the list of men’s concerns in this study, overall, “if you’re looking to grow your male aesthetic patient population, the number one cosmetic concern among men remains hair loss,” noted Dr. Keaney. “You cannot ignore hair loss. It has a large psychosocial impact.”

During a full-body exam, Dr. Keaney recommends using a scalp exam as an opportunity to ask about any hair-loss concerns.

Encouraging signs from other industries

Other industries are showing a rise in the appearance-conscious male consumer, Dr. Keaney said. Men’s skin care, grooming, and luxury fashion industries are all growing, for example.

Worldwide, the personal care market for men is forecast to grow to $166 billion globally by 2022, according to a report from Allied Market Research. The compound average growth rate is expected to grow more than 5% each year between now and then.

“Men are spending money on their hair and skin,” Dr. Keaney said. “The question is, Why aren’t they spending money on their face? It’s how we interact with the world.”

Dr. Keaney has served on the advisory board of, consulted for, and was a speaker for Allergan. He was also a speaker for Eclipse, Sciton, and Syneron Candela, and served on the advisory boards for Aclaris and Merz.

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