February 2011

Lisa Kind - Editor

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp


Identify Your Target Market Before Making Expensive Purchases

Every clinic wants to offer the hottest, most innovative services. However, to make it a wise business decision, it is important that these additions match the culture and demographics of your facility.

The most important thing a business needs is a solid grasp on who their clients are and what they are looking for. As estheticians, we want to offer skincare to everyone 15 – 85 plus. Everyone needs skincare, right? While this may be accurate, it is very difficult to market to this broad of a demographic. It is much easier to market to a specific demographic group, and do it well, so that your clients help build your business with referrals.

To understand target marketing, this analogy uses McDonalds Restaurants. McDonalds specializes in hamburgers and french-fries. McDonalds does not sell steak. They offer reliable, inexpensive food, fast, in a child-friendly environment. The terms "fine dining" and McDonalds are not in the same ballpark. McDonalds knows their target audience and provides them with what they want. Ask the parents of the four to eight year olds what happens when the kids get in the car. They will probably say they get requests to go to McDonalds. That is target marketing. McDonalds lets the kids make the sell to the parents.

It is very easy to create a desired shopping list and want it all NOW. However, we quickly realize the purchasing dollars will only go so far. Prioritizing and finding just the right devices or products help stretch those dollars to their maximum. This takes us back to step one, identifying our target client market and knowing what they are looking for. Let's examine a couple of possible scenarios for how this might effectively work.

Scenario 1: An esthetician is located in a large college town. She is young and still knows all the girls in cheerleading, dance groups and those who are active in sports. She likes to wax and already has friends from 18-28 that are asking her where she is going to work. Her best business decision might be to locate in a facility that caters to either families or the younger generation.

Her marketing could focus on hair removal, as this service is extremely popular with this age bracket. Her client demographic becomes females and males ages 18-28. Since looking tanned is also popular with this age bracket, our esthetician should also consider adding spray tan services.

The new tanning bed tax laws, as well as the known side effects of tanning beds have combined to make spray tanning a hot new service for 2011. Our esthetician will need to evaluate equipment as well as spray tan products carefully. The spray device itself can range from $300 - $3000.

With careful shopping, our esthetician can start with a reliable but inexpensive sprayer and let it generate the revenue to purchase a more expensive device later on. Just as with the device, the price of the spray colorant does not necessarily equate to the best product. Our esthetician should check out what is available on the market, its price and spray results. She may find a brand that is half the cost of another brand and be happier with the results. Other considerations would be controlling overspray, noise and supporting retail products. While the manufacturers' say there is minimal overspray, it still builds up quickly and daily maintenance is necessary to keep the area clean.

In this same scenario, acne treatments and home care, SPF products and makeup for special occasions would also be solid, potentially positive considerations. Our esthetician could also consider IPL or laser hair removal services, but would need to consider whether her client base could / would spend the money for these services. This information will help determine if the investment would be worth it after the payments, insurance and maintenance are taken care of.

Scenario 2: Our esthetician is 45ish. Many of the people she knows are concerned about the signs of aging. They perceive our older esthetician to understand their concerns in part because of her age. This esthetician and her friends have already been using anti-aging products and some of them are having injectables.

This esthetician decides to capitalize on her connections with this group and establishes the 40-65 year old female as her target market. While these clients may also desire hair removal treatments, they are baby boomers and are mainly interested in everything related to anti-aging. Microdermabrasion, AHA and BHA exfoliation, facial toning, LED therapy, IPL rejuvenation are some key treatment considerations.

Remember to consider de-stressing aromatherapy treatments or other specialty relaxation treatments as well. Due to the expense involved with many of these, our esthetician will need to consider her investments carefully and determine which she should start with, and which add on later. Surveys or questionnaires directed to her potential client base may be helpful in this evaluation.

Sometimes possessing the hot new item is not necessary. For this esthetician, having a good quality microdermabrasion device is more important than having a spray-tanning unit, because her client base will avail themselves of the exfoliation treatments more than the other. In short, it is all about what best meet the needs of your specific client base.

Judith Culp, a CIDESCO Diplomat has been in the esthetics industry since 1980. A CPCP permanent makeup technician for over 18 years she served a 4-year term as a Director for the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals, two years as their president. She is president of Culp Enterprises Inc. and CEO of NW Institute of Esthetics. Judy Culp is available for consulting. For more information visit www.estheticsnw.com.