According to a Indian University Kelley School of Business article, social media marketing generally does not have a direct affect on consumer buying decisions, unless “social media marketing efforts [are] congruent and aligned with the different needs of social media users.” When applied to the aesthetics industry, social media marketing needs to cater to users interested in healthcare and wellness. In the case of RenewMD, social media strategist, Shaheera Bhutto, the consumers can be targeted through microinfluencers, a smaller social media influencer, who focuses on a niche community.
But a side-effect of appealing to a a focused group of consumers, is the gender disparity. An overwhelming amount of users who are interested in health and wellness are women, who, if they cannot afford these high end medical grade products, turn to over the counter alternatives, a cheaper, but riskier option. How do we market these products in a less be all end all way, so that women are not mentally distressed if they are unable to afford these products?
Currently, marketing techniques employed by the Aesthetics Industry are relatively standard:
- Employ effective priming techniques: priming is a psychological concept that describes the ability of the mind to respond to a stimulus based on previous stimuli. for example: RenewMD’s name contains the word “renew” and “MD”, priming consumers to associate the medi-spa with medical grade anti-aging rejuvenation procedures, ascribing legitimacy to the business, and establishing trust. However, the “MD” suggests that these products will be expensive, thereby filtering out an entire demographic of lower income patients.
- Social Proof: The anonymity of social media platforms has made it simple to jump on bandwagons, a marketing concept known as social proof. Social proof, or the “me too” effect explains the rationale behind virality of trends on social media. A good example of this would be the acceptance of plastic surgery, through the Kardashian’s experiences with it. In fact, as notorious as Kylie Jenner might be, her undeniably popular instagram has urged multiple other influencers to try out lip fillers, resulting in a cultural movement towards aesthetics, and a huge boom for the aesthetics industry.
- The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon: As a side note, after increased exposure to a stimulus, the human brain is wired to find more of that stimulus. PS Mag writes: “The first, selective attention, kicks in when you’re struck by a new word, thing, or idea; after that, you unconsciously keep an eye out for it, and as a result find it surprisingly often. The second process, confirmation bias, reassures you that each sighting is further proof of your impression that the thing has gained overnight omnipresence.” So, if a consumer has an increased exposure to aesthetic procedures through social media, they will observe higher instances of aesthetic procedures in their day to day lives, which leads to desensitization, and eventually acceptance. If a consumer feels that a product is so common, any reservations they had to try the product will disappear. They will continue in the loop of believing they need to get the product. Or in the case of the aesthetics market — the procedure.
- Prospect theory: Prospect theory states that people choose options based on comparison to a current position, rather than a final result. If people believe that aesthetic procedures will leave them in a relatively better place than they are currently, they will prioritize that over their absolute final result. Granted terms like “better place” and “absolute final result” are a but hazy, so in order to define that clearly, the survey was implemented, showing that an overwhelming amount of patients defined their confidence as a personal concept rather than based on public perception of themselves.
- Loss aversion: Another side note, social media marketing techniques like give aways and challenges could result in forging client relationships that operate on feeding off of a reluctance to lose products/procedures. Give aways through social media don’t just draw in more clients, they result in more loyal clients, who place a higher value on the product.
These 3 marketing techniques are useful in creating a market for aesthetics. But they are problematic as well. Through branding aesthetics procedures as exclusive and necessary, women are being held to an unnatural high stakes standard of beauty. Tweaking current marketing techniques could potentially create a healthier environment for women contemplating aesthetic enhancements.