Should you consider buying the newest aesthetic technology?

One of the many questions a provider has to answer is what specific technology will be utilized to provide certain types of treatments. We live in an age where innovation is praised and we are always on the lookout for the latest and greatest. So naturally, one question that arises frequently is whether or not newly released technology should be purchased to revamp an existing treatment protocol or even to jump start a new business.

This is not exactly cut and dry because there are many factors that should and will influence that decision. First off, part of why buyers flock to a new release is that it is just plain cool. Not only have there been improvements in how these systems operate, there is a focus on making the machine aesthetic match the outcomes desired by a treatment. In a word, it looks good having a shiny new asset in a treatment room. There is always excitement surrounding what is coming next and how it might improve the vitality of a business or the lives of their clients. While this does illicit an initial response it should not carry much weight in the decision of whether a business owner should spend close to six figures, and often times more, just to purchase an asset that is new to the market.

Secondly, there can be an element where the fear of missing out comes in to play. It is true that entire businesses in this space have been built around one or two specific technologies by early adopters. Because of this, there seems to be some fear of missing out on catching the wave of a new release. It is easy to get caught up in the possibilities of how something new could jump start or reinvigorate a customer base but it is important to remember that for every one success story there are many others where the result is not as appealing compared to the risk taken on that purchase.

A big part of the driving force behind these sales is obviously the manufacture. If they spend the time and expense of creating a new release, they are going to push to sell as many as quickly as they can in order to minimize their exposure. Because of this, they provide breakdowns and ROI charts that suggest the effort of the buyer to get sales is minimized based on the support they provide. It paints a picture that simply having the equipment on hand as an offering will carry a lot of the weight in propelling the business on its own. There are a few scenarios where direct to consumer marketing i.e. Zeltiq Coolsculpting and Hydrafacial have driven customer sales, it is only one facet of whether owning that piece of equipment makes sense for a given business.

While it can be easy to get wrapped up in the hype of a new release it is important to factor in the following points when considering a purchase:

Is it a novel technology in the space?

When Emsculpt was released, there was an obvious buzz around the product and therefore BTL Aesthetics as a whole. The potential consumer capture was expanded because it created an appeal to a segment of the market that might not have been a patient already. Because of this, there has been a sustained demand for that system both new and in the pre-owned market. As in any industry, with an initial success there will be competition. After this system was released, the race was on for competing manufactures to release their own version in order to gain market share. Something you have to consider in this scenario is that just because a similar product is released for sale does not mean it is ready. Meaning, often times manufactures will release a competitive device that does not have complete efficacy at its core. It is more about the timing of the release compared to whoever else is on the same track. Therefore, early adopters could receive a device that produces suboptimal results compared to what is being promised. Technology in this space is often released under short term testing or trial periods without the due diligence of testing on a longer timeline to understand the full scope of what the system is capable of or without considering what potential long term ramifications could come from the use of that particular device. Just because something is designed to operate in a certain way in theory does not mean it actually does in practice. This begs the question as to whether there are any consistently reliable unbiased resources providing data that is not anecdotal and provides insight into the entire industry as a whole.  One thing manufactures rely on is brand loyalty. Just because a certain model in their portfolio might be best in class for a given technology, it does not mean that every offering provides the same level across the board. Different manufactures improve in specific areas compared to what their competitors offer. Therefore, having a resource that can pair multiple branded technologies together that span the pool of purchasing options is invaluable in creating Best-in-Class results for your clients.

Is your Medical Practice healthy enough to sustain it?

You have to call in to question why you want to add a new technology and take a good hard look as to whether it is actually a good idea for your business. Would you be leveraging too much from your budget, staff, or customer base in order to make it work? Any new addition will come with an added level of effort, expense in marketing, and extended level of expertise  that has to be exerted in order to be successful. While adding a new technology can increase the health and vitality of a Medical Spa business, do your due diligence to know whether your customer base will support that purchase in order to understand whether you are in a position to take on the risk that come with that addition. Take in to consideration Coolsculpting. From the standpoint of the number of devices placed and treatments performed, it is a great success. Because of their success, we saw quite a few practices jump on board with the initial release of competing technology (think Cynosure Sculpsure) that ultimately underperformed to what it was supposed to do and had a detrimental impact on many businesses. So you have to make sure that your livelihood is sustainable in the event that new technology turns out to be a flop. In the same token, even though Coolsculpting was widely successful, that doesn’t mean that every cosmetic business had a positive experience from owning one of those devices. The late adopters entered into a saturated market that made it difficult for that treatment to elevate growth in a significant way. It is difficult to say whether there was a clear cut and better decision for these late adopters as it depends on the knowledge of a local market and is in nature a case by case scenario, there is definitely a happy medium between the two.

New technology comes and goes. If it can stand the test of results and time it will hold its place in the market and there will always be room to utilize what it has to offer (Think Candela Gentle series, Hoya Conbio Q-Switched, Cutera Xeo, Syneron Elos technology, and others. These well built and designed systems that are reliable, sell consistently, and have held their place in the industry). At the end of the day, you are the only one who can decide whether investing in a new technology at its release is worth the risk to you and your business. With greater risk comes more reward but if you really take a step back and look at it, on a long enough curve, steadfast and proven technology will always continue to support the health, robust vitality, and growth of an Aesthetic business ran well.

Caleb Henderson

Caleb Henderson

As Executive Vice President, Caleb specializes in aesthetic technology with targeted specialty in sciences and technical requirements.

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