Industry heavyweights discuss technology

When Professional Beauty wanted to do a deep-dive into the role of technology within the beauty sphere, we called in the industry’s biggest players.

Converging on The Potting Shed at The Grounds Alexandria, Professional Beauty’s publisher Glenn Silburn joined Candela’s Matthew Green, Laser Sydney’s Zina Sebastian, Perfectly Smooth’s Rebekah Woodbine, InMode’s Kate Melles, Cynosure’s Shannon Wooldridge, and Dennis Cronje from InMode to chat about the impact technology is having on their businesses.

Panel members were put through their paces, answering hard-hitting questions, and their answers were thought-provoking as well as educating. Read on for a taster of what they had to say.


Which device category do you regard as offering the best investment value to clinic owners in 2020 and why? What advice might you offer clinic owners in their consideration toward a device with a single focus versus a multi technology platform?

Dennis Cronje: We see from the feedback and trends in the market that skin rejuvenation, body contouring and skin tightening tend to be the big trend movers at the moment. Any non-invasive or minimally invasive technology that will allow the consumer to reduce fine lines, take away pigmentation, generally brighten their facial features, neck contouring, and then [target] the body is, for us, what’s driving our business globally at the moment.

Shannon Wooldridge: Skin rejuvenation and body contouring are the two segments that we feel are set to grow the quickest in the coming years. There’s definitely innovation that’s driving that, but pop culture and consumer demand particularly.

Zina Sebastian: I still believe hair removal devices are the best value because they’re more of a long-term trend… this is also with body contouring – it’s been around for quite some time. I feel that with the newer skin rejuvenation devices, the drastic change between the different devices is crazy; it’s more of a short- term fad and it can sometimes fade out to different devices quickly.


Highlight the importance of device training for beauty business owners and their staff in 2020. What do therapists struggle with most during training and how do suppliers overcome these challenges?

Rebekah Woodbine: I think a lot of the clinicians are coming out trained in a lot of the different modalities. What I have found for my own staff is that not all companies are equal. You pay a lot of money for these devices – $160,000 for a machine – and [trainers] come in and do one training session with you, and then expect you to know everything. With darker skin types and different races coming into Australia, we need to be aware of treating all different skin types and how to do it safely. I think something that businesses need to look at is ongoing education with the equipment they buy.

Kate Melles: There are salon owners, clinic owners out there
who pride [themselves] on educating [their] staff, and that’s really important. It goes both ways – the clinic owners have to want to allow their staff to have more time for training, because sometimes I find that, that’s the issue – they don’t have the time. So [distributors] can reach out to them to offer and provide more training.

Mathew Green: One of the things that I’ve always been really impressed about therapists and our industries is the thirst for knowledge. They really want to do training. You need to achieve a certain level of competency in order to get the certificate. [Staff] want to get training, but to allow them to have a payday, not in the clinic, and to go and invest in their own training… you’d be amazed how many businesses just won’t let them do it. Adverse events can have a terrible impact on your business.


How would you currently regard the Australian aesthetic industry’s position in terms of pursuing fair standards and regulations to improve safety for therapists and end users for beauty devices?

Mathew Green: There are two big challenges I think we face as an industry. First, a lack of regulation. We desperately need a national standard of regulation and ongoing competencies. And I think as an industry we need to do that together. The second biggest problem we have is the short tenure of therapists. This is a huge problem because it does affect competencies and the end user experience… I think employers need to address this issue. Find ways to hang onto your staff, to reward them, to provide them with a career ladder, training opportunities and engagement, and keep them in your business.

Dennis Cronje:“We spend a huge amount of money on research and development (R&D), on the clinical validation of the technologies, on ensuring that it meets the CE’s standards, and The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. And then you get devices coming into the market being imported by a distributor; you have very little control over. It says that they
can do everything that a manufacturer’s technology can do at a fraction of the cost, but we know that is not the case. That provides problems for the consumers because they go into a clinic believing that they are going to get a clinical outcome that’s being advertised.

Zina Sebastian: The fact that you can sell these devices to anyone on the street… it’s quite scary to be honest. Regulating [should happen] with people who work in the industry, who’ve studied it, and who actually want to give quality service and not just that ‘in-and-out production line’ of seeing it as a business alone.

What impact has the 2019 Royal Commission into the financial services industry and ‘buy now – pay later’ services had on the availability of financing options for small business owners in the beauty industry?

Rebekah Woodbine: I’m almost surprised how many use [Zip and Afterpay] – so many across all demographics use it in our clinic. It’s very, very popular.

Zina Sebastian: I feel like it’s more the impulse buyers that would normally want to purchase that product or that service, but they don’t have funds right then and there… so yes, it’s definitely helped revenue.


Should clinic owners be concerned about the rise of at-home beauty devices and their competitive threat? Are there parallels and related learnings with the previous introduction of mobile devices versus in-salon equipment?

Zina Sebastian: A $300 device does not compare to a $150,000 device and the energy output and the results. It’s the damage the clients can do at home if not used correctly… it’s more of a gimmick.

Shannon Wooldridge: I think this also reinforces the importance of the experience that a clinic offers a customer. If you’re offering a great service and a great result [as well as] a great experience to your customers, why would they want to treat themselves at home? I don’t really believe that at-home devices pose a huge threat to our industry. I think the issue here will always be that the patient expectation won’t be met. The devices typically won’t be able to generate enough power to actually treat the condition… then they’ll find themselves back in a clinic with a professional and a professional machine as well. To summarise, it’s all about power – these devices don’t have the power to deliver the permanent outcome for the patient or the customer.

Rebekah Woodbine: It comes down to education – you have to educate your staff and you have to educate your clients as to what these different modalities can offer and do. It’s the old adage: you under promise and over deliver every time, and it works.

Technology advancements via research and development are driving device capabilities forward at an unprecedented rate. How will suppliers further revolutionise beauty devices over the coming decade?

Zina Sebastian: Australia is a little bit slower in adopting new technologies, so suppliers are getting onto it by using social media platforms, because whatever’s popular worldwide would be quick to come to Australia. But to get our hands on a particular device may take quite some time.

Shannon Wooldridge: We have to comply with The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). That’s there to protect the customer in the end who’s actually receiving the treatment. From a supplier point of view, I don’t mind necessarily being a little bit behind America, let’s say, because we have to do our due diligence to make sure that the device is safe, and that’s really important for us. I think we’re keeping up. I think there’s always going to be refinement in these older technologies… we’re really looking at things like patient tolerability, so same technology, but delivering it in a way where the patient is comfortable with the procedure. Downtime’s a big one as well.

Dennis Cronje: There’s this absolute thirst for new technology… consumers are driven by it and industry’s driven by it. The advantage of [InMode’s] public offering was to invest in R&D, because that’s what we do. Where we’re seeing a big trend is in becoming more operator independent, and in multi- platform technology.


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