The Need For Digitization In The GCC's Cosmetics Treatments Industry

The cosmetic treatments industry is a multi-billion-dollar business, but it needs to do more to keep up with the digital demands of consumers

By
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

The cosmetic treatments industry, worth an estimated US$2.2 billion annually, is big business in the GCC, and it is a sector that continues to grow. The region welcomes more medical tourists seeking cosmetic enhancements than ever before, and this marks a shift in the epicenter for cosmetic medical tourism, with Dubai taking the lead as the city with the highest number of cosmetic surgeons per capita in the region.

Shutterstock

But that's not the only thing to have grown. The sophistication of the technology within the aesthetics field has too. State-of-the-art, innovative tech has improved the industry drastically, and consumers can now expect faster, safer, less painful procedures, with incredible results. But when it comes to transparency and availability of information within the industry, it's still archaic.

Region-wide, there's a positive shift happening in attitudes towards cosmetic treatments. Thanks to the growing range of minimally- and non-invasive procedures on offer, coupled with more public awareness via mediums like social media, societal acceptance of aesthetic enhancements is increasing. More men and women than ever before are searching for cosmetic adjustments to make themselves feel better, even in more conservative markets. But it's not just about beauty- cosmetic procedures can provide life-changing experiences, such as treating scarring from acne or burns, skin concerns, and birth defects.

I have been in the cosmetic treatments industry for over 30 years, and I have seen firsthand how technology is driving this shift within the industry. Advances such as laser-assisted and energy-based aesthetic medicine, really have put the industry at the very forefront of healthtech. Yet, the industry has a lot to catch up to in terms of access and openness for the consumer. Referrals are usually word-of-mouth, with a significant lack of trusted, up-to-date, regionally relevant information that can aid decision-making- something that is so important when it comes to something so personal.

Related: Sladjana Franovic's E-commerce Platform Evakind Is Championing Small, Independent Local And International Brands That Truly Hold Ethical And Environment-Friendly Values

A year ago, I decided it was time for the industry to evolve. I wanted consumers to feel empowered. They deserve a platform that can inform, educate, and reassure them to make the right choice for themselves, and ultimately realize their full potential. So, we set to work. We began by looking at the numbers, and it was shocking. We found that there are over a million searches online every month for cosmetic treatments in the region, but nearly 40% of clinics don't have a website. And of those that do, a third have no function to take bookings online. When we spoke to consumers, most said that they would prefer to book their appointments online. And out of those who weren't so keen, they stated this was simply due to the lack of information available to them.

Source: selfologi

It was clear that consumers felt a lack of clarity and openness around the industry, with no ratings or reviews available, and they were turning to friends, family, and social media for recommendations. There was no single, trusted source of information on the industry, despite it being worth billions. And it is to answer these needs that we created selfologi, a consumer-centric destination for cosmetic treatments and procedures. In June this year, we successfully secured $17.5 million in seed funding, allowing us to execute our ambition to the highest quality and capabilities. We are launching at a scale that's not been seen before in the region, with the latest technology, some of the best digital brains in the industry, and authentic original content in Arabic and English, developed by global industry experts.

We aim to be a game-changer and pioneers in the industry, driven by the need to provide impartial, informed, well researched and relevant information to empower consumers who want to discover and learn about treatments in the region, ultimately making the right choices for themselves. selfologi will also serve as an e-commerce marketplace to compare clinics and practitioners and book cosmetic treatments. Of the clinics that we surveyed in the UAE and KSA, 58% said they faced a challenge when it came to finding new customers. Through our platform, clinics and practitioners can leverage their exposure online and present their credentials, technology, and value. Our aim is to build a trusted community and develop a true partnership with providers.

Digitization is having an enormous impact on the health, beauty, and wellness industry, so providers need to keep up. Our consumers are tech-savvy and thrive in the digital world; it's a natural extension of their lives. They demand convenience and an enhanced user experience. Cosmetic treatment providers need to ensure that they can meet this demand and join them in the digital world. Consumers are also seeking more transparent, clear, and concise information online when it comes to cosmetic treatments and concerns. And we need to give it to them.

The future of the cosmetic treatments industry is exciting. People want to feel good about themselves- and so they should. This is one such avenue that enables individuals to feel empowered, and to build their confidence. But if we truly want to empower people, the industry needs to evolve. Our mission is to drive this evolution- so, watch this space!

Related: Eyes On The Prize: Lal Bhatia, Chairman, Hilshaw Group