Changing faces: marketing to the male customer

By Michelle Boxall / 01 Nov 2014

Michelle Boxall examines the different approaches for connecting with your growing male audience

The profile of a typical aesthetic customer is changing fast, and this is presenting treatment providers with progressively more opportunities to develop, grow and market to a new clientele. Patients are now entering the market from all walks of life. This is partly driven by the fact that having ‘work’ done (as it is often termed by consumers), is not only considered acceptable, but is now accessible to the mass market. Undergoing an aesthetic treatment is even considered fashionable in some circles – a trend fuelled by celebrity culture. While aesthetic treatments are no longer considered niche, (and you only need to read the Daily Mail to have proof of this), it naturally follows that marketing to the male customer provides a magnificent opportunity for growth in the sector.
According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), the number of men having cosmetic surgery rose by 16% in 2013; and those having aesthetic procedures accounted for one in 10 (9.5%).1 However, much of this growth has arisen organically, with many clinics and brands neglecting male patients in their past marketing and communications. Dr Maria Gonzalez, who runs the Specialist Skin Clinic in Cardiff, says, “I do not specifically market to men. I do not have any treatments specifically for men either, but I do have male customers and notice that there are some treatments that are more commonly requested by this group. These include tattoo removal, laser hair removal for ingrown hairs in the beard, treatment of nasal vessels and our most popular request is for the treatment of ‘red’ face, secondary to rosacea.”
Despite the fact that in-clinic it seems practitioners’ focus on men is ostensibly withstanding, we can see that the aesthetics sector wants to market to men through the influx of male products and treatments that clinics are adding to their treatment menus. New aesthetic consumer brand, Body Face Couture, is a prime example – they have recently launched their marketing campaign with male models and treatments specifically tailored to men; for example ‘Tight Torso’, a treatment to firm and sculpt the male torso area. Cynosure, a leading developer and manufacturer of aesthetic laser technology, recently launched a new product with marketing materials designed in black – a significant move away from the company’s usual orange and silver branding. Cynosure’s managing director Neil Wolfenden comments, “the Picosure launch was focused around tattoo removal; an aesthetic treatment which could potentially draw in a huge male audience. We therefore chose to make a statement with our marketing to attract men as well as women, and this has added value to the success of the launch.”

Consultation differentiation

Juvea Aesthetics, a clinic based in London’s Harley Street, has experienced an increase in male clients requesting hair removal, body and facial treatments. To address this growth, the clinic places emphasis on differentiating between the sexes during the consultation process. Dr Faz Zavahir at Juvea says, “When it comes to treatments, men are interested in the science behind them; therefore when communicating with men we will go into detail about how, for example, a laser or product might work. We have also found that our male clients seek aesthetic treatments to boost their self-esteem, and to combat the signs of ageing – so we will go into detail about how we can help them to achieve this.” It makes sense for aesthetic clinics and practitioners to have different approaches to treating male patients, and to tailor to the patient’s personality and individual needs in a consultation situation. However, it can be difficult to come up with successful marketing campaigns that work in a male mass-market when the aesthetic and grooming market is often singularly associated with the metrosexual male. This is despite the fact that a range of men visit an aesthetic clinic because they are suffering with a particular skin or body issue, and under normal circumstances wouldn’t even include application of a facial moisturiser in their daily routine.

Marketing

When advertising to men, in general, we don’t seem to have moved very far from dealing exclusively in stereotypical profiling, for example – the gay, the metrosexual, the house husband, the macho man. For aesthetic clinics, these stereotypes are not necessarily useful, particularly when trying to grow your market and broaden appeal. For most men, looking good is about being strong, confident, first, and the best.2 Clinics should aim to offer treatments, and market their products and services, with this male ideal in mind.
Researchers have found that the male brain is hardwired differently to the female brain,3 and therefore, these differences can simplify the marketing process for clinics who want to devise successful marketing strategies for the male customer. Men typically prefer marketing communications that are informative;2 preferring technical data rather than emotion-based messages that are aimed at triggering certain feelings, such as hope, sympathy, sadness or joy. From my experience, men don’t want to be told how a product or treatment can reform their life but, rather, how a treatment can reform their skin. A Mintel report published in 2013,4 reinforces the argument that evidence-based marketing works better on men, claiming that beauty and personal care products marketed to men were more likely to be dermatologically tested than products for women.
In clinic, detailed treatment information, case studies and before and after photographs can provide evidence-based marketing tools that are particularly suited to your male patients; these also provide good marketing fuel for any PR and social media campaigns, which are made invaluable with before and after photographs and case histories. Even though male stories are deemed less enticing than female stories within the media, case studies are still a proven formula in driving consumer enquiries. Online marketing is another crucial tool when setting out to market to male patients. Research suggests that men prefer to problem solve using the internet and are more likely to solve their health issues online compared to their female counterparts.5 Men are less likely to speak to friends about their health or body issues and therefore the internet provides an opportunity to capture their attention, inform and educate potential male consumers on why your treatments will work for them.
Men are fast becoming the sophisticated shopper, and used to having health and beauty products tailored specifically for them. The Mintel report4 discussed earlier revealed that beauty and personal care launches specifically targeted to men had increased globally by 70% between 2007 and 2012. The same report claimed men’s grooming products typically use ‘manly codes’, such as the use of black, blue and grey colours; therefore men often look out for products that are specifically targeted to their gender.
These figures suggest that tailoring messages to your male patients is a worthwhile enterprise. Hans Place Practice in Knightsbridge separates its treatment menu by gender providing its male audience with a completely different customer experience, both visually and in terms of content. The body and facial issues addressed, treatment options and outcomes all differ to the treatment menu tailored to women. Dr Mike Comins explains, “It is important to me that my male patients feel that they are not alone. I’ve always had male clients and have long recognised that there will always be a significant number of men interested in improving their looks. I therefore try to make the male customer journey easier and less embarrassing. Men don’t like downtime; they’re not good at recuperating, and therefore communicating to them directly also allows me to tailor my product offering.”
Stephen Handisides, founder of MyFaceMyBody agrees that marketing to the male patient is a must for clinic owners. He says, “There are several areas of concern and subsequently treatments that are exclusive to men, for example hair loss and gynaecomastia (enlarged male breast tissue). Even when treatments are similar we naturally try to find points of difference, i.e ‘brotox’. Men need to feel comfortable in coming forward to have these treatments and where possible brand, product and treatment providers should ensure they are making available to their male audience informative materials, in the right format and style of language.”

Marketing to the male customer does not have to be a huge challenge; new marketing communications can be rolled out in stages. 

The important step is recognising the opportunities you already have within your clinic to tailor your current marketing activity – your quick fixes can build from making changes around what you are already doing, rather than from an original standpoint. How do you currently communicate with men in clinic? Can you find ways to communicate to men through your existing email campaigns, marketing materials, advertising and PR campaigns? Relatives to the women already in your clinic could be another good place to start. You could engage patients’ brothers, husbands and friends in a male specific social media campaign, as well as making them the target of your gender differentiated direct mail and text promotions. In your client base, find your biggest male fans and ask them to provide testimonials, and where appropriate encourage WOM (word of mouth). Media coverage, while an ongoing expense, can significantly upscale the power of any WOM and testimonial successes. Interesting male cases should be pushed out to consumer press, along with highlighting your clinic’s areas of expertise, exclusive male products and treatments, and unique techniques specific to your practitioners. Men are increasingly under pressure to look good and are becoming more comfortable with the use of products and services to help them comply with the progressive shift in society’s demands. Improving oneself aesthetically, rather than normalising specific features is a motivating factor for men, and therefore the strength in association between women, beauty and aesthetics is no longer the only valid proposition for marketing aesthetic treatments. The man in the mirror is a changing face! 

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