8 Consumer Trends Shaping Your Next Patient’s Decisions

8 Consumer Trends Shaping Your Next Patient’s Decisions

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Consumers’ attitudes and behaviors are shifting in dramatic ways, and quickly.What can aesthetic practices—which are closer to their individual customers than the vast majority of other businesses—learn from consumers’ most recent evolutions?

Five leading aesthetic doctors discuss eight must-know insights that encapsulate BTL’s ‘More for less’ approach to their latest leading-edge launch, Emsculpt Neo, and how they can inform your practice’s treatment offerings and marketing. 

Attitudes. Behaviors. Consequences.

Chalk it up to the necessity of the moment. In a trend that, for some, started almost overnight, multitudes now spend more time each day—sometimes hours more—staring at their own faces.

According to the New York Times, this helped drive a surge in people making aesthetic surgical appointments in the summer of 2020, overcoming both economic uncertainty and COVID-era restrictions.

As this Zoom-powered increase in surgical appointments illustrates, large-scale shifts in consumer attitudes and behaviors can show up at smaller scales, including at your doorstep. Your marketing, outreach, treatment mix—and the devices that help power them—are all tools that can help you reorient your practice to address these shifting behaviors and expectations.

Your marketing, outreach, treatment mix—and the devices that help power them—are all tools that can help you reorient your practice to address these shifting behaviors and expectations.

“Delivering unmatched results is where the rubber hits the road for us,” said Art of Skin MD’s Dr. Melanie Palm. “But we also make sure any devices we acquire speak holistically to the experiences our patients want and expect.”

That dual focus on patient results and business-minded decision making is exemplified, she said, by Emsculpt Neo, BTL’s cutting-edge new body contouring device that combines RF technology with HIFEM energy, for the first time, to deliver both muscle building and fat reduction.

“I know the watchword for Emsculpt Neo was ‘More for less,’” said Dr. Palm. “And that principle really delivers on consumers’ exacting standards for the businesses and brands they spend money with.”

What are those standards, and what can practices learn from BTL’s approach to their latest game-changing device? Here are eight consumer attitudes and behaviors your peers suggest you should heed in your own marketing, and as you consider what new treatments you’ll offer.

Ingredients First.

Consumers want to know how stuff works. Explanatory marketing will stand above more superficial messages.

First, consumers are getting smarter and more discerning, putting a greater emphasis on science-driven products—and on knowing what the products they use are made of. It’s a trend driving their selection of everything from food to toys to cosmetics.

Vogue Business reported that this “ingredients-first” orientation is part of why younger consumers are turning away from marketing targeted to people of a specific gender. Instead, they want marketing to tell them something more fundamental about what they’ll buy: what’s in it and what it does.

“Practices should be armed with the research backing any treatment device they use because it is compelling for consumers,” said Dr. David Goldberg of Skin Laser Surgery Specialists. “Results for Emsculpt NEO, for example, were validated by seven new clinical studies involving more than 500 patients and 30 investigators. Practices that layer this type of validation into their treatment marketing will capture consumers’ attention.”

Sticklers for Results.

Show and prove; quantify where possible. Reviews, before & afters, and research-backed results evidence the range of possibilities for patients.

People care what goes into the products they use. They’re also more demanding than ever about what comes out. Just about everyone now reads reviews before making a purchase at least some of the time, and they have made it more possible than ever for consumers to understand if products and brands do what they say.

“Consumers want to know that products and services make good on their claims, said Dr. Carolyn Jacob of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology. “Take Emsculpt NEO: synchronized RF and HIFEM energy are producing astounding benefits—up to 25% more muscle and 30% less fat,” she said. “That meets and even exceeds patients’ expectations. And if they want to know how that type of result is possible, practices can point to the specific innovations that made it achievable.”

Sustainable Consumption.

Consumers want businesses’ help living more sustainably. Promoting your sustainability practices helps them make an informed choice.

Sixty percent of North Americans are concerned about food and packaging waste, according to a 2017 Nielsen survey, and their sphere of influence is no longer limited to their individual habits.

Who people buy from is increasingly becoming a way for them to convert their intention to make a difference on the environment into action. Brands and service providers that empower consumers to make sustainable choices will position themselves to be chosen: one survey revealed that 88% of consumers, in the U.S. and U.K. combined, want businesses to help them be “more environmentally friendly and ethical.”

More for less really delivers on consumers’ exacting standards for the businesses and brands they spend money with.

Dr. Melanie Palm, Art of Skin MD

“Companies will need to use sustainability as a lens for innovation in developing new products and services, and communicat[ing] with customers,” Deloitte reported in their Consumer 2020 report.

Dr. Jacob concurs: “I think eco-conscious patients would appreciate knowing the ways your practice and treatments empower them to buy in a way that aligns with their values. In BTL’s case, they created a treatment that generates minimal ongoing waste. Emsculpt NEO doesn’t require all of the gels and other products necessary for other procedures, which greatly reduces the consumptive footprint of the treatment.”

In and Out.

Patients appreciate your time and care. But it’s ok to promote aspects of the experience at your practice that you’ve optimized for speed.

It’s a given that customers hate to wait, but the tech-enabled conveniences of the last few years have taken their expectations up a notch.

“Convenience is becoming a key trigger,” for purchase decisions, reports McKinsey & Co., based on the results of an October 2020 consumer sentiment survey. Fifty-eight percent of people say they want shorter wait times, among other indicators that swift service will continue to be a key differentiator for businesses. And four in ten people who have viewed fat reduction and/or muscle toning treatments on RealSelf say time constraints stop them from working on self-improvement during the week.

Who consumers buy from is increasingly becoming a way for them to convert their intention to make a difference on the environment into action.

“This goes right back to that ‘more for less’ theme: while you can’t do these procedures curbside, you can do them in a lunchtime,” said Dr. Palm.

“A non-surgical procedure that could give patients dramatic results with a quick office visit is a game changer,” she continued. “With Emsculpt Neo, the fact that the results continue to progress over the course of weeks and months will add to patients’ sense that this 30-minute procedure pays substantial dividends.”


Promote your protocols, and consider that consumers’ notions of “safety” are expanding.

“Every aesthetic doctor knows how much coronavirus has upped the ante on safety,” said Dr. Brian Kinney of Brian Kinney, MD. And people’s vocabulary around safety is expanding.

“‘Low-touch’ is a new expectation, and practices should spell out how they’ve implemented this where relevant,” said Dr. Kinney. “Emsculpt NEO, for example, doesn’t require consumables to run, so doctors could and should talk about it, in part, as a lower-touch treatment.”

Potential patients may also ask you about procedural safety, and those who do will want to hear a good answer, he continued. “In this case, histological studies revealed that the device causes no damage to skin, sweat glands, or sebaceous glands.”

Since coronavirus started ramping up, consumers have additionally expanded their definition of product safety to include “attributes typically associated with health and wellness,” reports Deloitte’s Consumer Product Trends.

“Comfort is one of those wellness-adjacent attributes,” noted Dr. Bruce Katz of JUVA Skin and Laser Center. Ninety-three percent of patients described Emsculpt Neo as a “comfortable” experience.

“Not only is it safe, but it feels safe.”

Introducing EMSCULPT NEO


Loyalty Reframed.

Consumers are bending an ear to businesses and brands that show their loyalty is deserved. Trusted online communities play a big role.

This current era is witnessing a “shock” to traditional standards of loyalty, McKinsey & Co. recently concluded, as people’s choices are increasingly influenced by their broader network of social media connections and communities.

Aesthetics treatments that inspire great reviews have a built-in advantage under this emerging paradigm, said Dr. Jacob. “On the one hand, reviews are par for the course in aesthetics. On the other, it’s really tough to overstate how important they are.”

With Emsculpt Neo, 88% of patients were satisfied with their treatment outcomes. “That’s the type of patient satisfaction that drives high star ratings, detailed reviews, and great before-and-afters—all ‘social proof’ that heavily influences consumers’ thinking about what practice they’ll select,” Dr. Jacob explained.

An earlier-generation Emsculpt device was a 2020 Most Worth It winner and grew reviews at 5x the average monthly rate on RealSelf in its first year.


Focusing on what consumers get—results, convenience, safety—adds to the “return” side of the ROI ledger as they contemplate value.

Particularly during this time of uncertainty, “Americans are becoming more mindful” about return on investment, reports McKinsey & Co.

That’s why marketing the value-added aspect of treatments could create a real competitive advantage for practices: 56.6% of consumers say value is a driver for buying at new places, and 61% say it’s a driver for trying new brands.

“Aesthetic doctors are already masters at customization—it’s important that customization also be represented in non-aesthetic procedures.”

Dr. Bruce Katz, JUVA Skin and Laser Center

For consumers, value is not about spending less, per se, but getting more for what they invest. “Three-quarters of people will pay more—up to $3,000—for a safe and effective treatment backed by extensive clinical research,” said Dr. Goldberg. “This is perfectly aligned with their pivot to caring more about what products are and what they do. Keep focusing on quality when marketing both your practice and procedures to consumers.”

In the case of Emsculpt Neo, the substantial outcomes, synergistic muscle building and fat toning, and less time to see results all lend themselves to an ROI-focused message that’s about more return, not less investment.


Pull back the curtain on the specific ways you cater to patients in order to tap into consumers’ strong yen for tailored experiences.

Driven once again by new tech-enabled experiences, people want products and services that feel bespoke and relevant. One Epsilon study concluded that four in five consumers are more likely to buy from businesses when they offer personalized experiences.

“Aesthetic doctors are already masters at customization—our work is highly specific to a patient’s body and performed after deep consultation and preparation,” Dr. Katz noted. “I think it’s important that customization also be represented in non-aesthetic procedures.”

For Emsculpt NEO, that meant building a highly customizable device whose plug-and-play applicators could be applied to a wider range of body areas, including the biceps, triceps, abs, buttocks, and calves. “It’s also FDA-approved for patients with a BMI up to 35,” he said. “That empowers us to say the words, ‘I have a treatment that could work for you,’ even more often, and BTL has achieved that in a safe and effective way with this new device.”

With so much choice, and an easier-than-ever ability to do a lot of decision making before they even talk to a doctor, consumers are in the driver’s seat.

“When brands build for the end consumer, they’ll always do right by doctors,” said Dr. Palm. “And consumer expectations are a critical yardstick doctors should use before acquiring a new device.”

That, and whether it could also increase practices’ profitability. “Providers should definitely drill down on brass tacks business questions, like net profitability per hour, when evaluating a device,” Dr. Goldberg advised. “By eliminating click fees and treating both fat and muscle in a single session, Emsculpt Neo enables more revenue at less cost for practices—up to two times higher profitability versus other devices.”

Considering the built-in consumer demand for this type of treatment—63% of people say their primary body goal is to lose fat and gain muscle—profitability and volume potential could add up to significant net new revenue for practices.

But there’s no profitability without patients. “For practices, these consumer attitudes and behaviors apply not just to higher-consideration decisions like what devices you’ll invest in, but also what you choose to highlight when marketing your practice,” said Dr. Palm. “And leveraging this insight in their marketing is something practices can start doing today.”

Emsculpt Neo: More for Less

Emsculpt Neo is the world’s first and only device to simultaneously transmit radio frequency and high intensity electromagnetic energies, for a 25% increase in muscle mass and a 30% decrease in fat, over four 30-minute sessions.

Emsculpt Neo is safe and proven to have reproducible results based on 7 clinical studies. Best of all, Emsculpt Neo delivers more for less, as it utilizes two technologies to treat more body types in less time and for less cost. Patients also enjoy seeing results sooner than other technologies.