I read with great interest the article published by Marsidi et al. in the January of 2014 issue entitled “The Best Marketing Strategy in Aesthetic Plastic Surgery: Evaluating Patients’ Preferences by Conjoint Analysis.”1 I applaud the authors’ effort in supporting a customer-based business model, which I believe should be considered the criterion standard for marketing and survival of a plastic surgery practice with a high cosmetic surgery clientele. Steve Blank, an entrepreneur, professor, and pioneer of the customer development movement, emphasizes how this novel business model increases the chances of business survival by emphasizing an obsessive pattern of data gathering, and constant interaction with the customers.2 The old product-based model is outdated, and plastic surgeons wanting to stay competitive in the marketplace for cosmetic surgery patients would be well advised to adjust to this modern concept.
The authors have documented the relative attribute importance of six variables, including treatment costs, travel time, years in practice, size of the clinic, method of referral, and online presentation. To my surprise, having an online presence had the second lowest attribute importance (9.5 percent).1 Interestingly enough, if you were to ask most graduating plastic surgery residents in the United States going into private practice about the first thing they are going to do for their practice, the answer most likely would be, “I am going to develop my Web site.” I understand this study was performed in The Netherlands and the results might not completely translate to our market, but if we assume that we would see the same results in our country, spending a significant amount of money on developing a Web site is not going to have a significant impact on your practice. This is how the interpretation of quantitative data analysis such as that described in this study can become very helpful.
Although I agree with the concept, I found the process of ranking the likelihood of visiting the cosmetic surgery clinic in the scenario in Figure 1 very confusing. Conjoint analysis as very well depicted in the Discussion has several pitfalls, including the magnitude of scenarios developed to evaluate even the small number of attributes chosen in this article. In an effort to maximize the number of respondents, the authors had to reduce the number of scenarios from 288 to 18 using a random pattern design that could have influenced the results and conclusions. I would not go as far as saying that a conjoint analysis is “the best marketing strategy,” but I definitely agree with the conclusion that a paradigm shift in the business model of cosmetic surgery practices is needed. This new customer-based model should emphasize a continuous effort in gathering patient data to help us tailor our marketing strategies to what our customers want.
The author has no financial interest in any of the products or devices mentioned in this communication.
Jose R. Rodriguez-Feliz, M.D.
Division of Plastic Surgery
Albany Medical College
50 New Scotland Avenue, MC-190
Albany, N.Y. 12208
1. Marsidi N, van den Bergh MW, Luijendijk RW. The best marketing strategy in aesthetic plastic surgery: Evaluating patients’ preferences by conjoint analysis. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2014;133:52–57
2. Blank S. Why the lean start-up changes everything. Harv Bus Rev. 2013;91:63–72
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