The beauty industry has proven itself resilient over the years. For example, during the 2001 recession, the term “lipstick index” was coined to describe the increased sales of lipsticks inversely proportionate to the magnitude of a recession. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, global beauty spending dipped only marginally during the 2008 financial crisis before fully bouncing back in 2010.
By most projections, the skincare category looks to recover quickest in the beauty sector this year, driven by attitudes that are now heavily focused on health and self-care. But is this optimism shared by practitioners on the ground? We grabbed a quick coffee with Dr Melvin Tan, the Medical Director of Epion Clinic in Singapore to get a ground-zero perspective of how his industry will fare in the coming year.
Do you sense a shift in attitude among your clients today towards beauty and aesthetics?
There’s definitely more focus on self-care these days. I think it’s triggered by people observing themselves more at home, either in a mirror or through the webcam. They start to notice their faces more and realise they could do with a bit of assistance. I’ve noticed that people are also more open to having treatments done now, even if there is some downtime, because they are working from home.
Are you convinced that the beauty industry will triumph once again as quickly as it has in the past?
I think so, and sincerely hope so. As Singapore entered Phase 2, most cosmetic clinics seemed to be busier. A lot of this was due to the backlog from closing for three months during the lockdown. However, some of this traffic may have come from people who have extra disposable funds, typically reserved for travelling overseas for holidays or treatments, to work on themselves while here.
There is a consumer trend that has emerged where people are choosing to spend less but spend better. Is this evident in your industry?
Across the industry, I don’t think people are spending much less but they are certainly looking for more value in their purchases; more bang for their buck. And it’s understandable. There is a looming sentiment of economic uncertainty, so people want to stretch their dollar. They also want options today, like tele-consultation or delivery of skincare products to their homes. We oblige as much as we can, although in the cosmetic practice, I can explain treatments much better in person and a lot of details are better seen in 3D.
As a BMW driver, you must subscribe to the notion that aesthetics is best accompanied by performance.
I do, actually. This belief is what powers the development of our treatments at Epion Clinic. Apart from ensuring the treatments are effective and the client looks good, we go to great lengths to curate treatments that are comfortable, and that have minimal or no downtime. We invest heavily in inventive technology, and then we combine tech with programmes that are customised for clients. It’s marrying beauty and science – that’s when I think you will get the best “performance” out of a treatment.