Everybody loves a good deal — and that’s as true for cosmetic surgery as it is for clothes, cars and cosmetics. So says Regina Lewis of USA Today, whose article in the Money Quick Tips last week led off with the line:
The problem, of course, is that what looks like a good bargain can be a really bad deal when cutting costs is achieved by cutting corners. Unfortunately, getting price-conscious consumers to understand that is a challenge and one that is best met when board-certified doctors speak up and provide viable alternatives. To do that, it helps to understand how aesthetic consumers make their decisions.
Ask the 4 million people who visit RealSelf every month and they’ll tell you 3 factors dominate the process:
Price: The proliferation of med spas and office-park clinics has clearly fostered a price-comparison mindset among consumers and wishing won’t make it — or the practitioners who foster it — go away. Whether to fight fire with fire — by posting prices online, for example — is an individual decision but the bottom line is that you need to be prepared to explain to bargain hunters that the best “deal” is the one that provides true value in terms of training, outcomes and follow-up care.
Board certification: While the pursuit of bargains may prompt some people to act hastily, board certification remains a high priority for informed consumers. In fact, data compiled by RealSelf shows that patient satisfaction rates are 15% higher on average among those who had procedures performed by board-certified aesthetic experts, versus doctors from other fields of medicine. Doctors can help consumers — and themselves — by helping spread this crucial educational message.
Procedure expertise: Part and parcel of the above, a doctor’s experience with a particular procedure is a high priority for aesthetic consumers. Read the Worth It Ratings on RealSelf and a pattern quickly emerges: From arm lifts to Vaser lipo, potential patients turn to others in the community to inquire about their impressions about their providers’ familiarity and facility with the procedure(s) they’re considering.
To her credit, Lewis does encourage bargain-hunting readers to ask questions — Is the doctor board-certified and in what? How often has he or she performed the procedure in question? — but the reality is that consumers’ decision-making process is fraught with uncertainty that doctors can help alleviate to the benefit of all concerned.
The decision to pursue cosmetic surgery is based on more than a pocketbook connection, says Jen Longtin, director of marketing at RealSelf. It’s an emotional decision that leads to trust, successful procedures and positive reviews.
To counter discounting, emphasize value
With the Internet fostering a sense of transparency, price-comparison is a fact of life. Rather than fight it, doctors need to counter the resulting commoditization by weighing in on the virtues of experience and board certification. Whether that’s by writing blog posts or answering questions online, the result is more informed consumers who have the tools to make smarter decisions.