By Jennifer Jabaley, OD
Sept. 20, 2017
Cosmetic products, such as eyelash extensions, appeal to many patients, but should you sell those products in your office?
Adding that merchandise can build revenues and draw patients in–if you determine it’s right for your patient base and branding, and if you present it the right way.
Recently, a friend, who is an OD, was talking to her brother, a dermatologist. She asked him for advice about how to help her patients who complained about under-eye circles, puffiness and wrinkles. He suggested that she add a cosmeceutical line of skincare especially targeted for eye concerns to her office. She wasn’t sure. Would she have enough patients interested? How difficult would it be to incorporate? Would the staff be on-board? How does a practice effectively add a cosmetic niche?
After doing research, my friend decided to implement the Rodan & Fields skin care line, as well as Lash Advance into her practice. She created an intake form for the front desk to give each patient, which asks questions about a patient’s concerns with eye wrinkles, circles, puffiness and loss of eyelash fullness. If the patient marks an interest, the pre-testing technician will then discuss options with the patient, and make a notation on the chart for the doctor. She has had great success with this addition to her practice.
If trends in beauty care are any indication, more practice owners may be asking themselves the same questions my friend did, and looking for eye-related beauty products that are right for their practice.
The U.S. facial aesthetic industry will reach a market of nearly 11 billion by the year 2018, according to Global Cosmetic Industry magazine. A variety of aesthetic concerns are targeted to the ocular region. Eyecare practitioners have a great opportunity to meet the growing and changing needs of our patients. There are ample options for optometrists interested in entering the eye-related cosmetic market.
A Cosmeceutical Line
For patients concerned with crow’s feet, under-eye circles and puffiness, selling a product line of skincare targeted to the delicate skin around the eyes is a great business opportunity for eyecare practitioners. Cosmeceuticals are beauty products that claim to have medical value – typically anti-aging ability.
Eye-related cosmeceuticals have a natural home in an eyecare practice. Having products available for sale in your office helps build patient relationships. Patients will trust a doctor’s opinion over a non-medically trained person about the creams and treatments that are safe to use around the eyes, the products that can be used with contact lenses and the creams that are less likely to trigger ocular allergies.
Once a patient buys a cosmeceutical from your office, if they are happy with the product, they will return multiple times a year to maintain their supply. Anything that entices your patients to return back to your office is a beneficial step toward increasing business.
Adding Eyelash Enhancement
As we age, one of the biggest complaints is a loss in hair thickness and density. Many patients complain of thinning eyelashes. Lash Advance is an eyelash and eyebrow gel that promotes the appearance of longer, fuller, thicker lashes and brows within weeks. Before the availability of Lash Advance, the lash enhancement, Latisse, required a prescription.
Lash Advance can be sold over-the-counter out of the doctor’s office. As an eyecare provider, you can assure your patients that Lash Advance won’t irritate the eyes, and is suitable for use with contact lenses. Having a lash enhancement product readily available in your office to help your patients combat the issue of thinning eyelashes as they age will be a great convenience. Patients will appreciate the convenience and availability of solutions to their aging concerns.
In the last few years, there’s been a resurgence in popularity of products that offer many options to not only change eye color, but enhance eyes with a sparkle or twinkle in the iris. Re-branding contact lenses as a cosmetic service can help breathe new life into a classic aspect of eyecare. Let patients know they can enhance their looks with this simple addition.
How many times a day do patients complain about red eyelids, red eyes, or admit to Visine abuse? Patients want clear conjunctiva and alert, rested-looking eyes. Educating patients about dry eye syndrome and meibomian gland dysfunction can allow introduction of the anti-inflammatory benefits of supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids. By addressing ocular surface health as an cosmetic option, you add another retail option to your practice. There are a variety of vitamins and supplements that can be added to your office for purchase.
Action Plan: Successfully Adding Cosmetic Treatments & Products
DECIDE WHAT TO OFFER & TRAIN. First you need to decide which products you are going to offer. Once you research and find the best products for your patient base, schedule appropriate training with your staff. Many manufacturers of skin care products and supplements offer in-office training for staff.
CREATE MESSAGING & MARKETING. To drive the success of your cosmetic offerings, you need to create consistent messaging and engaging patient encounters. Design a marketing plan. Internal marketing might include handouts and a scripted presentation from the staff or doctor.
External marketing might include newspaper ads, or a public talk at a community event, such as a women’s heath expo.
Digital marketing would include introducing the products on your practice web site and social media. Before-and-after pictures, as well as patient testimonials, work well in this arena. Finally, as always, the best marketing is word-of-mouth. If you pick products that are effective, your patients will sing your praises to all of their friends.
Ample opportunities exist for entering the cosmetics market for eyecare practitioners. Many optometrists would be surprised at the number of patients interested in these options, and the additional revenue they can bring.
Is adding an eye-related cosmetics line right for your practice? What factors would you need to examine to decide? If you’ve tried it already, what kind of success are you seeing?