Male Market Presents High Growth Potential for Ax Practices

By Michael Moretti, Editor and Jeffrey Frentzen, Executive Editor

The emerging market for men who want to restore or preserve a youthful and vital appearance in a very competitive world is fueling industry expansion into a demographic segment that was previously overlooked and underdeveloped. Increasingly, successful aesthetic practices are targeting their portfolio of services to half the population who, up to this point, has been mostly unserved by our profession. Providers who understand the needs of men will reap the financial rewards as they build an accretive revenue source and solid financial annuity stream, which will only grow larger in the future.

According to Medical Insight’s (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) Male Patients: An Important Market Segment research report, men typically prefer straightforward treatments with demonstrated results. As well, the study revealed that annual sales of aesthetic products and equipment for the treatment of men represented 13.1% of all sales, and through 2017 total male market sales are expected to rise by 10.2% per year, on average. With men comprising a greater proportion of aesthetic procedures, in all segments growth of the male market is expected to be higher than related female procedures.

Generally, contemporary male patients have the same motivations and concerns as women, noted Terrence Keaney, M.D., F.A.A.D., a dermatologist at the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington, D.C. “They all are trying to maintain a younger look,” he said. “What I find different from women is that men are less specific in their concerns. They know they are getting older or they have had a change in their life. They might turn the corner after a birthday milestone and come in for advice on how they can age more gracefully.”

James Newman, M.D., F.A.C.S., a facial plastic surgeon in San Mateo, Calif., concurred. “If you look at the trends in divorce and separation, then you will see the connection. Men go through mid life crises just like women, and when they get separated or divorced they re-enter the dating scene and see that everything is done online with pictures and profiles. So, they understandably desire a more youthful appearance,” he stated.

“The male market is indeed growing, which market survey data certainly supports,” expressed Derek Jones, a Beverly Hills, Calif. dermatologist who noted that an increasingly competitive job market motivates many men. “A lot of men are beginning to understand something that earlier generations did not deal with as much,” he said. “Namely, they really need to take care of themselves and look their best in order to remain competitive in what is probably turning out to be a longer working career than most thought they would have.”

In a post-recession economy that has done much to squeeze out the more senior workers, anti-aging treatments can, “put these men back in the game,” Dr. Newman stated. “They don’t want to be left behind, they don’t want to be referred to as Pops or be seen as a father figure. They want to be in the same league as their younger counterparts.”

The single most popular procedure among men is hair removal, as reported in Medical Insight’s study of the male patient demographic. Light-based epilation is particularly well suited to large areas, such as the back and / or chest, for quick clearance. Body shaping / skin tightening and tattoo removal are also popular. Through 2017, total male aesthetic procedure volume is expected to increase by 10.4% per year, to reach 9.4 million procedures worldwide, the report stated.

Laser hair removal, and to a lesser extent hair transplantation, have become gateway procedures, explained Dr. Newman. “Hair removal has become more popular as the technology has improved and is less painful. Also, the procedures have become more affordable,” he said. “Other popular procedures include liposuction, blepharoplasty, chin implants, rhinoplasty and gynecomastia.”

According to Dr. Jones, less invasive procedures and the use of injectables are also highly desirable. “This is what I call advanced aesthetic dermatology, such as injectables and the more minimally invasive procedures. It is a very strong, growing market,” he stated. “Male patients often want no one to know they’re doing anything aesthetic related.”

Dr. Keaney recently tallied the male patient demographics in his practice and found that baby boomers in their 50s and 60s always need the most amount of work, “but this group also feels the taboo the strongest, since they grew up thinking men shouldn’t worry about such things,” he noted. “Men that are 30, 40 or even in their late 20s grew up in the era of social media where the taboo has not been as strong. Surprisingly, we thought our age demographics would be more skewed to the older baby boomer age, but the average age of our male cosmetic patient last year was 39 years old.”

The real growth in cosmetic procedures will continue to come from Millennials – men in their 20s and 30s – Dr. Keaney added. “They spend a lot of money, are interested in fashion, go to the gym, buy nice watches and cars and are concerned about their appearance. They simply have not yet learned about all the options available to them. This will change over the next ten years if physicians focus on recruiting this age group. Media will educate them, as well.”

In addition, manufacturers in the aesthetic space have started rolling out male-centric marketing campaigns to capture this audience. For instance, Merz Aesthetics (Greensboro, N.C.) recently released a marketing campaign touting its Radiesse dermal filler to male consumers. Restoration Robotics, Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) and other hair restoration companies have focused their outreach efforts entirely on the male market. Zeltiq Aesthetics, Inc. (Pleasanton, Calif.) and other body shaping device manufacturers have likewise begun concentrating on the male patient segment, and many beauty firms have started responding to a rapidly changing men’s skincare market.

As Dr. Keany pointed out, while the baby boomer is still a prized client in aesthetic practices, the younger male is growing in importance. “This year a large investment bank came out with an analysis that found the biggest growth area in the retail market is among the ‘yummies,’ or young urban males. Those men are going to push fashion forward and will be turning to medical aesthetics.”

This increase in male aesthetic procedures covers all age demographics, claimed Joel B. Beck, M.D., F.A.C.S., a plastic surgeon in Foster City, Calif. “I’m observing a wider range of age groups, with a lot of younger women that come in wanting anti-aging treatments. Men are probably paralleling women in regards to that. On the other hand, a 75-year-old man is not going to be too interested in procedures unless his wife pushes him.”

In terms of what truly motivates many men to seek out procedures, one can often look to the wife or significant other. “It’s true,” noted Dr. Newman. “After the wife has had successful surgery, she wants her spouse to get freshened up, as well.”

“A lot of middle-aged females will often say, ‘I need to bring my husband, boyfriend or partner.’ Sometimes the husband may come in somewhat sheepishly and not with a lot of enthusiasm,” stated Dr. Jones, “but once they get a taste of what we’re doing they often come back on their own and regularly.”

Men are intrigued by aesthetic treatments, but often need that strong push to actually visit a physician, Dr. Keaney indicated. “The most successful marketing that we’ve used for recruiting new male patients is talking to our female patients,” he stated. “Across the board, men are not good about going to any physician, so if you can get significant others to influence them there is a higher likelihood they will come in. Later, when that male patient refers his friend, it validates word-of-mouth as the most effective approach.”

Some practices have gone as far as to create a separate waiting area, as well as treatment areas, for male patients only. In design and décor, many aesthetic practices cater more to women because they are the majority of their patient population. Practitioners should ensure that their male patients feel comfortable in the office’s space and not intimidated by their surroundings.

At Dr. Keaney’s practice there are separate male and female waiting rooms with individual entrances from the street. “The ‘man cave’ space is setup to appeal to new male patients for initial consultations,” he said. “In a lot of cosmetic practices, men are just an afterthought — if they come in, great; if not, great. Our male-centric area is not much different from the female waiting area, just more masculine in some respects. We changed the furniture and the reading material is different. The selling point for male patients is that they have their own space with dedicated male staff to really make them feel comfortable.”

For practices that don’t want to build a brand new waiting room, an existing waiting area could be adapted or converted to add male appeal, Dr. Keaney advised. “It must have accoutrements that identify with men. We offer videos that show spots on popular TV programs that feature our staff, or skincare advice or descriptions of our services. It’s all scattered in with general male interest, whether it’s extreme sports, how to tie a bow tie or the latest on luxury cars and travel. Every third or fourth video is related to cosmetics and dermatology. We do not want to bombard them. The guy that comes in unsure of why he is there in the first place at least gets a comfortable environment.”

“Once I get them into my office male patients are pretty easy to deal with,” Dr. Jones expressed. “I find the males a bit easier, in general. Females are wonderful to treat, but they are a little more equivocal in their thinking and decision-making. Many of the men that come in are very male in the way they think and decide. If you tell him that if he wants to fix X then the way to do it is with Z treatment, he will say let’s do it now.”

“However, the male patient may not know what he wants. He just knows he wants to look better,” Dr. Jones continued. “Therefore, the initial consultation may take a bit longer. As a group, male patients tend to ask fewer questions, are more decisive and are less worried about the minor details.”

Within the male aesthetic market some practitioners noted the increasing number of gay men seeking procedures. In his practice, Dr. Newman sees a high concentration of gay men. “Commonly, gay men are very particular about keeping up their looks. They are much more likely to keep their follow up appointments for their BOTOX and other treatments. “

Ultimately though, the same types of motivations drive both straight and gay males, claimed Dr. Jones. “In this increasingly liberal, metrosexual environment that we have entered as a society, the lines between the two groups are blended. I am often not sure who is straight and who is gay, and I am sometimes surprised when I find out.”

In Dr. Beck’s experience, “my gay male patients have a lighter attitude about things to some extent. They identify more with women in a lot of ways and they are more open to change.”

Pushing deeper into more obscure types of aesthetic treatments, the transgender patient has benefitted from improved techniques and technologies, as well. According to Dr. Beck, whose patient base is around 40% transgender, “they want to change their sex, be as sexy as they can and be able to pass for their elected sex when they go out. They have a totally different motivation,” he said. “It is a part of the population that’s growing by leaps and bounds and is being accepted more and more. I love to help them. They are very thankful and very kind and all they want is to be accepted for who they are.”

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