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Declining ‘Brand Loyalty’: Boon or Bust for Aesthetic Medicine?

One of my favorite practice managers, Charlie Sheridan of Marina Plastic Surgery, just shared with me new data showing consumers increasingly favor value pricing over trusted brands.

Deloitte’s 2013 American Pantry Study, concluded consumers remain “cautious (and) resourceful” even as the economy emerges from the recession.

“In our survey we found more careful consumers who feel smarter about the way they shop and are remorseful about their prior wastefulness. They do not feel they are sacrificing as they continue to look for ways to save. Loyalty card usage is growing and coupons do not appear to be a catalyst for unplanned purchases.”

While six key implications are called out by the authors, three in particular should resonate with elective healthcare providers:

  1. Frugal attitudes and behaviors have endured
    Be sure you and your staff offer cost-cutting non-surgical alternatives to common surgical procedures for patients on a budget looking for aesthetic improvements. Consider whether price-based advertising (deals and discounts) will play a role in your practice. If you’ve been considering a loyalty rewards program, this may be the time to get it rolling.
  2. Selective loyalty among “Must-Have Brands”
    While loyalty overall is down among consumer goods, some brands, like Apple, remain must-haves. Brands known for quality and innovation lead this pack. What will you do to be the must-have surgeon in your market?
  3. Consumers are embracing technology
    Consumers are getting smarter about shopping for services. More and more consumers use online ratings and reviews. That means reputation management should be a core part of your online communications strategy.

What does this cultural shift indicate? Practices stand to profit if they:

  • Remain focused on the kind of surgical and service qualities driving positive patient reviews
  • Include value-priced non-surgical services on the menu, giving options to patients and prospects
  • Introduce programs rewarding and encouraging loyalty

Most of our clients are already increasing promotion of non-surgical services and are paying more attention to reputation management. Very few, however, have started integrating comprehensive loyalty programs into their patient retention mix. The time is right to take the next steps.

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