Power partners

In a Chiswick hotel on a chilly spring evening, a group of salon owners are gathered in a lecture room, armed with pens and notepads and tempted with the promise of wine and canapés. They are clients of Ecolite IPL machines, and settling down to hear a presentation about how RegimA cosmeceuticals can benefit their services. This event is part of an ongoing, casual partnership between the two brands, allowing them to promote their products to the other’s clients while also developing a more comprehensive treatment programme.

They are not alone. Such strategic alliances are a growing trend among skincare companies and machine brands. With the market becoming increasingly competitive and clients demanding visible, lasting results, brands are being pushed to find innovative ways to provide salon owners with products and services that will set them apart. Such partnerships also allow the brands to diversify and reach new clients with minimal investment outlay or risk.

“There’s two ways to go,” says Dean Nathanson, managing director of Caci, explaining that brands can either invest in the development of their own skincare or machines to complement their existing products, or partner with a company that already offers something that fits the bill. “It’s far better to align with a brand that’s already established in the marketplace, has a very good reputation and is going to open up some business opportunities as well.”

It's not hard to see why these cosmeceutical specialists and machine manufacturers are seeking each other out. There’s no conflict of interest and together they can deliver a treatment that boasts better, longer lasting results.

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"There’s limits to what we can do,” says Nathanson, whose machine brand is currently involved in an alliance with Perricone MD cosmeceuticals.

Isaac Chesno, managing director of RegimA in the UK, believes using cosmeceutical products in the aftercare of aggressive treatments such as IPL or laser is essential. “People think they just go for laser and it’s an overnight process, but it’s not. It’s a period of six weeks,” he explains. Chesno says that he feels his role in the partnership with Ecolite is very much to do with educating the therapists using IPL about the correct aftercare. “Everybody’s skin is different and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for others,” he says.

Tracy Parkin, managing director of Cosmeceuticals, distributor of Priori and Vitage skincare and Omnilux and Diamond Tone machines, believes that taking this type of comprehensive approach to an individual client’s treatment is imperative to providing the results that consumers are demanding. “What you do with your skin every day and what topical products you apply, in conjunction with what you have in a professional environment, will get the ultimate results,” she says.  

Parkin’s “integrated approach” involves looking at every aspect of a client’s life, from their health and diet to their time schedule, and developing a treatment programme that will fit within it, incorporating machine-based treatments along with appropriate homecare.

Win, win

In general, these strategic partnerships are casual and have the interests of the salon owners and the clients in mind. RegimA’s partnership with Ecolite involves evening events such as the one in Chiswick, where RegimA will explain the benefits of its products to Ecolite’s clients, and vice versa.   

Caci’s alliance with Perricone MD was formed after the cosmeceutical company’s founder applauded Caci in his book. Their alliance takes a different form, whereby the skincare company uses the Caci Microlift handheld electro therapy device to perform makeovers at its retail concessions in department stores, and sells them via these outlets and online. According to Kay Duke, Perricone’s managing director in Europe, the Microlift is the third highest selling retail item at Perricone. He says that working with an electronic brand that has been endorsed by Dr Perricone is a way to offer customers another level of service.

“Cosmeceuticals and technoceuticals in combination allow patients to achieve accelerated results in safe way,” says Gary Conroy, marketing director at Ambicare Health, the UK distributor of Lustre Light, a pure light based machine treatment for acne that has recently partnered with Obagi skincare. He points out that brand partnerships allow salon owners to have just one central contact specialising in a certain treatment, which can be relied upon for all medical education and business support.

Playing the field

While it may be in their interests, salon owners are under no obligation to deal with brands that their suppliers have formed partnerships with. Indeed, some brands have sought to create alliances with several different suppliers to give their salon accounts a choice. Nathanson explains that Caci has developed treatment protocols with Espa to promote its machines among Espa’s major hotel clients, and with Rodial’s bee venom line to complement its new Skinbreeze system. “There was once a time when the skincare companies weren’t quite embracing the technology, and now it’s done a complete turn,” he says.

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Likewise, Chesno admits that if he is successful in the partnership with Ecolite, he would like to approach other laser and IPL companies to educate salons about the importance of aftercare, and the benefits of RegimA’s range. “I think there's a market there for our scar repair and our laser gel,” he says.

These strategic alliances are not without their pitfalls for suppliers. Partnering with a brand that operates with poor ethics, or has disappointing education standards could damage relationships with salon clients. And if one brand is not reaping the same rewards as its partner, it’s unlikely to be as invested in making the alliance a success. However, the risks involved for the salon owner, and in turn the end user, are minimal. With business owners looking to diversify their treatment menus in order to keep with the market, supplier are having to work harder to help facilitate this change. As Isaac Chesno points out, “Joe Average out there wants results, and is better informed than in the past. We’re under pressure to make sure those results are given to him.”

Lead image credit: Caci