There’s no doubt that when we’re going through difficult times, like a recession, we need to cheer ourselves up – and we tend to do this by indulging in small, affordable treats.
This trend has been around for decades. The term ‘the lipstick index’ was coined by Leonard Lauder, former chairman of cosmetics giants Estée Lauder, who consistently found that during tough economic times the sales of lipsticks rose, simply because women wanted to indulge themselves with a small, affordable piece of luxury.
‘When things get tough, women buy lipstick,’ he said at the time, ‘In stressful times many consumers are reaching out for those small indulgences that provide momentary pleasure.’
These days the same still happens – Cadbury’s, for example, is still forecasting growth over the coming year, saying in its annual report: ‘We sell small treats and even in challenging times, consumers in emerging and developed markets will still look for affordable treats to provide a moment of pleasure.’
So how does this relate to dentistry? Quite simply, it means that you need to find ways of offering your services in such a way that they become affordable treats, rather than expensive and unachievable luxuries. Consider putting together treat packages that can be paid for on a monthly basis, making them affordable for your clients and supplying regular income for your practice.
For example, practices offering facial rejuvenation could put together an annual beauty bundle, which encompasses all the necessary regular treatment top-ups, but with monthly payments and a discount for taking part in the scheme. Other regular treatments, such as tooth whitening, could also be incorporated into such a scheme. Tooth whitening may not come under the category of a small affordable treat, at least not when compared to a bar of chocolate, but you could increase the ‘treat factor’ to make it more appealing to patients. For example, if you carry out in-practice whitening, you could offer a free manicure while the whitening gel takes effect.
Or for at-home whitening, offer something with which your patients could pamper themselves, either while they whiten their teeth or – if you prefer clients to whiten as they sleep – before they go to bed. You could provide some luxurious bubble bath, a relaxing lavender pillow or a voucher for a DVD of their choice.
A little imagination can go a long way, and could make the world of difference to both your clients and your practice.
Treat your patients:
• Try to get patients to think of your services as affordable luxuries rather than expensive ones
• Offer monthly payment schemes for annual ‘beauty bundles’
• Use added treats as incentives to lure patients to opt for some of the more expensive treatments
• Use your imagination!