The UK Medical Aesthetics Market & Digital Marketing – A 2023 Review

Rick ONeill

I’ve been thinking about 2023 and the UK & I Aesthetics market a lot the last couple of weeks. It’s been a different year to the previous two, there are many factors to consider.

Speaking to several companies that provide support to the Aesthetics market in marketing, operations or coaching, I’ve got insight into the overall or “average” performance of around 300 to 400 clinics in the UK. It would appear that it’s largely been a “flat” year, with a small percentage growing, but most simply maintaining or in a few cases actually seeing a decline.   On the marketing side, I think it’s fair to say it takes more effort across more channels right now to get the same level of results as previous years.

This is the “Trifecta” of factors impacting the growth of a lot of clinics in 2023:

  1. There are more aesthetic clinics than ever before (qualified or not). The market has grown at an astronomical rate.  Meaning less share for each, and more competition for all.
  2. At the same time there are also more marketing agencies and freelancers than ever before offering to work in this market and appeal to consumers / patients (and not many of them particularly high quality or professional!). This is creating a massive amount of “fatigue” with consumers / potential patients (whereas a few years ago they may have seen 1 or 2 ads for clinics ,  now they’re drowning in them in their feeds and of course this means they start to become “immune” unless the content is of big value to them. Not to mention the poor quality campaigns out there only serving to cheapen and commoditise the market for the rest of you!)
  3. At the same time again; there are pretty much the same amount of people who could potentially have / purchase Aesthetics treatments, but this year a large majority of those same people have started to think twice about luxury spending or postpone treatment decisions.

So, a trifecta there, right?

And it stands to reason when you consider those factors that it may have been a flat year for your clinic in terms of new patient numbers.   There is, generally speaking, less to go around, for more clinics, in a market where the customers have a bit less to spend.

Also, let’s not forget if you are reading this in December 2023, then it’s Christmas, which means people lose their minds and disappear for 3 weeks!!   So let’s bear that in mind when we consider our expectations and look at the stats, and instead use this time to work ON the business rather than IN IT.

Are there any other factors affecting the growth of clinics?

Funny you should ask! Yes! There are.   As well as the market forces described above, there are a few other things to take into account when it comes to digital marketing…

Firstly, Social Media algorithms.  It has never been as hard as it is today to achieve organic reach and engagement on Social Media if you’re just starting out.  That combined with the increased competition we talked about above, and you have a challenge from the get-go with your “free” Social content.    And on Paid Ads, Meta have also introduced more rules around advertising and retargeting which affect this market significantly, again adding to the challenge.

But Social Media isn’t the only thing reliant on Algorithms.  Google too have been “messing about” with their Algorithm a lot this year too.  From introducing updates to their core SEO ranking mechanism (or, how they work out which content is best, to you and I), to changing the way it ranks Google Business Profiles, and tightening up their policies on Google Ads relating to anything close to Health and Medicine, there have been a ton of changes to navigate this year that have made it all just that bit harder!

What’s trending for patients / consumers?

Combine all these factors with the trends in consumer interest and search patterns to get the overall picture.  There is a TON of data we could analyse here, but in short – we’re seeing a continual decline of searches for Dermal Fillers, and big uplifts in other solutions such as Microneedling, Profhilo etc, and very recently an upsurge in UK searches for Polynucleotides too, suggesting that consumers are not far behind HCPs in the trending treatments and regenerative focus in Medical Aesthetics.

Searches for Neurotoxin continue to grow regardless it would seem, but then the “trick” becomes educating your patients on the rest of your portfolio of solutions, and working hard on retention.

OK, but what strategies are working well to drive new patients and existing retention?

Aha! Well, this is where all my competitors will be getting excited to see if they can steal any ideas ;0)  So, whilst we reserve our best strategies and tactics for our clients, what I can tell you is that it’s going to become even more important in 2024 that your digital onboarding process is seamless, that it filters out poor quality leads, and that your content continues to focus on VALUE and EDUCATION.

Add to that a doubling down on lead nurturing through the use of intelligent automation, and you have a few of the building blocks needed to survive and thrive next year when it comes to your digital marketing for your Aesthetics Clinic.

I do some work in the U.S. and I believe they are often at the forefront when it comes to the marketing side of the patient experience, along with their approach to membership, and these are all things that are going to help clinics derive more profitability and repeat business from existing patients in 2024.

As for anything else, you will just have to watch which corners of the internet we put our focus on to help our clients grow in 2024, and see if you can keep up (or get on the bus with us ;0).

And where are the positives in all this, Rick!?

I know! It all sounds a bit negative, but it’s not that bad, I promise!!  We’re still seeing clients launch and succeed, existing clinics scaling, and everything in between, so the market still have buoyancy for sure, and there are still strategies and tactics in marketing that deliver results!

Of the clients I work with, coach, speak to etc, here are some things I know for sure:

Those that are …..

  • Continuing to invest in education (their own and that of their patients/audience)
  • Focusing on patient experience and retention
  • Innovating the way they treat
  • Differentiating their approach beyond the typical injectables
  • Continuing to invest in their digital footprint and taking advantage of new ways to communicate and market their practice…..

….are the VERY SAME CLINICS that are setting themselves up for a hugely successful 2024.

In my experience, a lot of clinic owners can become lazy and/or unsophisticated with their marketing (sorry, it’s just true 🤷) and/or are often working with lazy or poor quality agencies.  Again, looking at the positive here, this represents a HUGE OPPORTUNITY for the rest of you!!!!

And YOU are always the kind of clinic owners that end up talking to me and my team. Ambitious and looking for a different way of doing things!!

So keep pushing on all fronts. Keep the above as a checklist and ensure you’re advancing as much of it as you possibly can,  because now is NOT the time to sit back and hope, or stick your head in the sand!! Now is the time to believe in yourself, believe in your practice, and sow the seeds of success for next year!

Marketing has a lag effect.  Start now, and results properly kick in in 6 months (give or take). Stop now, and the results will suddenly dry up in about 6 months.

So, if you want a busy 2nd half of 2024 and beyond, then double down now and start becoming the master of your destiny.

Here’s a few ways to start:

  1. Read Black Belt Digital™
  2. Book in for one of our incredibly comprehensive Digital Audits and Action Plans
  3. Join the FREE Facebook Community, Black Belt Digital™
  4. Look out for my upcoming webinar series in 2024!
  5. Go watch my new 6 part series on the Merz Aesthetics Events platform! 

But whatever you do, focus on the positives here.  There is an opportunity for you to differentiate against the majority.  Go left, when everyone else is going right, by focusing on new and innovative ways to solve your patient’s problems, moving with the trends in demand, and educating your audience!

Myself and my team are always here if you want to talk.

Best of luck in 2024!!

Rick and all the team at LTF


Post Author

Rick O'Neill

Rick O’Neill, FRSA, is a digital consultant to the medical aesthetics, cosmetic surgery and pharma sectors. With over 20 years’ experience in digital marketing, O’Neill is the founder and owner of the award-winning digital agency ‘Look Touch & Feel’ (known as “LTF”) based at Silverstone Race Circuit, a founding partner of The Aesthetic Entrepreneurs, Digital Consultant to Merz Aesthetics, and investor / advisor to several other digitally-focused businesses.

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