The founders of the Black Aesthetics Advisory Board (BAAB) share advice on enhancing your engagement
Consider your approach
AV: Skin of colour in aesthetics often gets flagged as a separate and ‘difficult’ entity. Instead of approaching it in this way, I recommend using an inclusive approach from the start. In my opinion and from my knowledge of patient experiences, avoid going all in with lots of black skin or skin-of-colour social media posts/marketing collateral that comes out of nowhere for a short time and then goes back to normal. It should be part of a long-term sustainable strategy to benefit your patients and clinics alike.
DA: As Dr Vyas says, you shouldn’t have a separate marketing strategy for skin of colour. You should have a marketing strategy that’s comprehensive and has aspects that speak to all your patient groups so that everyone can be carried forward. Looking at it separately is quite worrisome as it puts skin of colour in an ‘other’ group, which then makes people feel like it’s another thing to do. Nobody wants extra work! My advice would be to always try and look at both sides of the coin and see how that impacts different groups and develop an inclusive strategy from the start – skin of colour should not be a bolt on.
TE: When we look at any product we should look at the customer base as a whole and the research data readily available. With black women in particular being shown to be one of the highest spending groups collectively in skincare, it doesn’t just make ethical sense to consider their needs, it makes financial sense too – which is a core goal of any business. One example is several papers will show a big concern for black patients and skins of colour is pigmentation, therefore inclusion of this aspect would be a basic prerequisite.
Tailor your messaging
IE: When creating a campaign, use images that portray a range of ethnicities and vocabulary to address a wider audience. Consider if the product or device is suitable for all skin types; if so, stipulate exactly which skin types. If not, understand why not and be clear about it.
AV: Highlight your experience treating this patient group. Just as you would normally, share reviews and patient experiences from your patients of colour, as well as your before and after photographs (with consent of course). In your marketing strategy look at your treatment toolkit and how you explain each offering. Where you would explain the considerations for different skin types/concerns, include a few lines on skin of colour. Use imagery encompassing all skin colours and make it authentic. Pepper in your skin-of-colour marketing with your regular offerings; this will attract patients as well as people of colour to join your team. Ensure you use the words skin of colour, brown skin, black skin, and darker skin types in your marketing. Use these hashtags too.
DA: For an example on how to tailor your message, think how ageing affects all demographics. Generally speaking, white skin will reveal fine lines and wrinkles earlier, while pigmentary concerns will be the first concern for those with black skin. So, if you want to sell chemical peels, speak about the benefits of chemical peels in general and then in that same text zone in on the particular benefits to each patient group, all within the same space.
Enhance your experience and understanding
TE: If you don’t have much knowledge of the interests and concerns of patients with skin of colour, or how to treat it appropriately, I always say that to get the conversation/process right you have to involve the people the conversation is about in the decision-making process. You can carry out surveys within your own cohort of patients and liaise with black colleagues within the industry and bodies which support work in this area, such as the BAAB. By doing so you will educate yourself and it’s that education that will give you the tools to progress.
AV: If you lack experience in treating skin of colour but have the knowledge of how to do so safely and successfully, ensure your marketing messages explain this to help consumers gain trust in your abilities. Don’t overpromise and always ensure you are promoting services within your remit with referral processes in place for when you need support.
IE: Make certain you’re staying abreast of current affairs and be genuine. Being genuine doesn’t guarantee success but being disingenuous guarantees failure. If you are confident doing treatments on black skin, ensure your website and marketing channels echo that message.
Remember what to avoid
TE: Avoid gimmicks, tokenism and reinforcing stereotypes. It may sound obvious but large commercial companies have made negative press headlines by doing so.
IE: Don’t assume your patients know you’re confident treating black skin. You will need to show them in your website, language, marketing channels and before and after images.
DA: Avoid negative language that creates mental barriers in your approach to treating different demographics, such as, ‘It’s challenging to treat black skin’ or, ‘Afro hair is thick and hard work to care for’. Be mindful to avoid treating skin of colour as ‘other’ and pigeon-holing it into a separate category. That doesn’t make people feel included and tends to drive more of a wedge. We are all the same, but with different needs.
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