Memo For 2016: It’s Not 1956

Top tip for growing your business’s revenue and client base in 2016? It’s not the 1950s.

Payot Australia recently hosted the iconic French skincare brand’s president, Marie-Laure Simonin Braun, for a look-see at the way purveyors of Payot products and treatments do things here.

Very well, as it happens, judging by the fact that the Australian distributors, Clive and Rita Smith, are Payot’s Number 1 agent outside of Europe; a good effort for a country that only has a population of 23 million.

Marie Laure, who joined Payot HQ in Paris six months ago in its 95th anniversary year, was extremely impressed by the standard of knowledge, expertise and talent of our aestheticians.

However, she believes the style and approach of many beauty destinations are outdated – indeed, stuck in the mid 20th century, holding them back from reaching their true potential.

“There is a great need to learn how to retail better,” Marie Laure told SPA+CLINIC.

“This includes everything from reviewing the design, layout and ambience of the salon to customising treatments to individuals and elevating the customer experience in all kinds of ways.”

As many aesthetics professionals are discovering, consumers are now yearning for a return to the days of the personal touch, literally and figuratively, and gravitating more to places where treatments are conducted in a zone of comfort, trust and intimacy.

Of course there is still, and will long be a massive demand for express “lunchtime”, largely technology-driven treatments. But people being people, rushing from one thing to another eventually becomes stressful and unsatisfying.

Marie Laure says this means the skincare consumer is now seeking not only superior, results-driven treatments but a haven to relax and reconnect via a sensory experience, tailored specifically for them; to be made to feel special.

Marie Laure Simonin Braun

Thus her mission for Payot – and aesthetics professionals in general – is to recapture the personal touch that was, ironically, the hallmark of beauty treatments in the 1950s. Yet we can’t capture consumers with 1950s-style business models.

Marie Laure, a chemist with a specialty in skin biology and cosmetics, has a stellar corporate pedigree.

She was for many years in executive roles at the likes of French-based global beauty chain Dessange, France’s renowned Roc skincare, and multi-nationals Johnson & Johnson and Neutrogena.

Joining Payot, Marie Laure says, was the perfect move for her at this stage of life and career, allowing her to have a more personal, hands-on stake in the direction of the brand, founded by Dr Nadia Payot in 1920, as it heads to its centenary.

While celebrating Payot’s perennial product excellence and rich heritage – for instance, the elegant, distinctive jars are those as designed in 1920, and Dr Payot’s 42-step facial massage, forerunner of the modern-day facial, is practised to this day and making a resurgence – Marie Laure is keenly focused on Payot helping its clients to become more business-savvy.

While Payot researchers and scientists develop ever-more cutting edge skincare solutions, such as the new Nutricia range, heritage plays a significant role. The distinctive jars (example above right) designed for the brand when it was created in 1920 are still a hallmark today.

She has a number of easy-to-implement recommendations for Australian salons, spas and clinics to attract more of their own clients, engage with those clients to encourage more and frequent visits and to better upsell products and treatments.

“Retail is key for survival and success,” Marie Laure stresses. “And I’m not talking just products on shelves. You should be selling an experience – a memorable one.”


Make an effort to create an eye-catching display in your salon, spa or clinic’s window or shopfront to make passers-by stop and look – and want to come inside.

Such a display could be related to the seasons, festive events like Christmas or Easter, occasions such as Mother’s Day or based on special in-salon offers and packages (eg. for weddings). Be creative and inventive as you dare!


Don’t wait for people to come to you – invite them in! “Host special VIP events, or enjoyable, educational workshops for your clients and encourage them to bring friends,” says Marie Laure.

“They will enjoy the exclusivity and being made to feel like an `insider’. It also establishes you in their eyes as what you indeed are – the skincare expert, to go-to destination for their diagnosis, treatments and products.

“As well, it’s an opportunity for you to iterate that skin changes all the time and so their products and treatments will need will change accordingly. To keep their skin in optimum health and looking youthful and radiant, they should have regular `check-ups’.”

Payot Australia provides its participating salons, spas and clinics with advice and marketing collateral templates (eg. formats for promotional posters and invitations, whether print or electronic) to better leverage these initiatives.


The concept of a big front desk is outdated and too “businesslike”, according to Marie Laure.

“The administration area should be out of view, and clients welcomed by the therapist or another member of staff in a free space,” she says.

“Greet them as if a friend, by name – it creates an immediate connection. In the treatment room, perhaps have a little sign on display, again welcoming them by name. These small touches cost nothing, take little effort but make a huge impact.”


Marie Laure says aesthetics spaces should be ambient and inviting, not startlingly bright or sterile.

For instance, have indirect, sustainable LED lighting, perhaps of different colours depending which “zone” of the salon it is.

And appeal to the olfactory senses. That is, make the various spaces smell evocative, contributing to the “vibe” you want to create in each. Think scented candles, or diffusers dispensing aromas of essential oils.


Marie Laure says the most successful aesthetics businesses in the future will be subscribers to the principles of “conscience marketing” (as opposed to cause marketing); attempting to reach the “conscience” of their customers.

This can be achieved, for instance, by being very attentive to what your clients are telling you, either while you are treating or otherwise engaging with them at your salon, spa or clinic, or through feedback and commentary on social media platforms as to what they want. Perhaps you aren’t providing it or doing it as well as you could.

But to get the most from conscience marketing,  you need to have an appreciation of:

  • Who are you reaching?
  • What moves them forward?
  • What repulses them?
  • What do they value?
  • What do they say they believe?
  • What do they really believe?
  • Do their beliefs really influence their actions?

Appealing to someone’s conscience is going to be an increasing strategy for businesses – but you have to recognise that you’re working in an environment where consumers are more informed and empowered when they choose to be.


Therapists are not intrinsically salespeople but this does not mean they can’t upsell products and treatments given the right advice and encouragement (and, ideally, incentives!).

“While you have a client on the treatment bed with a mask waiting to dry for 20 minutes, for instance, a therapist might suggest an add-on treatment for another part of the body that won’t cost a lot more or add much, if any, time to the treatment but will heighten the experience,” says Marie Laure.

“It will also introduce the client to a new experience they may wish to repeat.”

While most aesthetics professionals and team SPA+CLINIC know it’s an epic fail to keep talking while clients are enjoying their much-anticipated sensory experience (unless they indicate they want to keep talking – intuition is key here, as some clients may be too polite or afraid to ask a therapist to be quiet), use strategic moments during treatments to explain what you’re doing and why and the products clients may benefit by in terms of maintaining professional results at home.

This approach takes the pressure off a therapist to make the “cold, hard sell” and defuses all-round awkwardness at the end when a client is paying for his or her treatment.

Tip: Don’t use negativity or scare tactics to make “helpful suggestions” re products or further treatments. Drawing adverse attention to an aspect of a client’s appearance can have a devastating impact on their self esteem, distressing them and quite likely turning them (and their friends) off you for life.


Finally and foremost, says Marie Laure, remember that in 2016 and beyond you are selling experiences to remember, not just treatments and/or products.


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