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The future of scalp micropigmentation

The number one question I’m asked whenever I meet or speak with the owner of a scalp micropigmentation clinic, is what I believe the future holds for the industry.

It’s flattering that so many influential people want to hear what I have to say, and it’s great to share a little insight from time to time. Ultimately though, no one, myself included, has a definitive answer to this question.

I believe the future is very bright for the scalp micropigmentation sector, although I also see significant change on the horizon. I believe other people in the industry sense this too, and perhaps that’s why they feel slightly uneasy. Change makes many people nervous, particularly when they’re happy with the status quo.

Some specifics

Anyway, I didn’t start this post with the intention of dodging the question. Whilst I may not know exactly what the future holds for clinics and technicians, I can certainly indulge in a little speculation. Here are my predictions:

Raising of overall standards

The quality of results achieved from one clinic to the next varies considerably, due in part to differences in the levels of experience gained. However, the unskilled and inexperienced technicians from 3-4 years ago have since improved, and gained experience by default just by staying in the market. As much as I hate to admit it, some of these technicians are turning out good work now. For customers, this can only be a good thing.

I also believe the average client is more educated about the process and what results they can expect, in comparison to just a couple of years ago. Customers are simply less likely to accept sub-standard outcomes, forcing many clinics to get skilled, or get out of the market.

Greater choice of solutions

Until recently, scalp micropigmentation was very much a one trick pony. Sure, you could break your hairline up a bit or go for a more receded look, but the bottom line was that everyone who had SMP looked pretty much the same.

Fast forward to today, and the client has never had so many options.

So-called 3D scalp micropigmentation is rising in popularity, and although the process is relatively straightforward, it does give customers an alternative look if that’s what they want.

Beard SMP is also growing in popularity, and more alopecia sufferers than ever before are experimenting with eyebrows, not as a standalone procedure, but as part of their SMP transformation. Given the number of permanent makeup artists now offering scalp micropigmentation, this evolution was inevitable to a point.

I’m also seeing a huge increase in the number of people using SMP as a filler to add density to a hair transplant.

Finally, the rise of tricopigmentation, or temporary SMP as many call it, has added a whole new dimension to the options available.

Industry fragmentation

As many industries mature, we often see a consolidation of major players as they acquire their competitors or put each other out of business.

In the scalp micropigmentation industry however, I believe we’re seeing the opposite. Certainly over the last few years we’ve seen something of an exodus as a large number of technicians have parted company with their employers and set up on their own. This is also driven by the number of permanent makeup artists and even former SMP clients who are realizing the potential of this lucrative sector and setting up shop in their locality.

I believe the three largest players are well established and probably unshakeable. Then you have perhaps 10-12 high quality boutique clinics around the world who are here to stay. The rest of the market, I believe, belongs to the local provider serving their home town or city, focusing on good old fashioned customer service as their main selling tool.

More competitive pricing

The growth of supply, in other words the number of providers, is outpacing the growth in the number of people wanting the procedure. Don’t get me wrong, the industry is in great shape and continues to grow year on year. It’s just that a LOT of new providers are entering the market, particularly in major urban areas like London, New York City and Sydney.

More competition usually leads to lower prices, in fact I already had to update our cost calculator a few weeks ago to reflect shifts in pricing around the world.

Regulation?

I fully appreciate this industry needs some form of regulation, but I cannot see it happening anytime soon. Why? Ask yourself – who is both suitably qualified and independent enough to regulate it?

The major providers have, perhaps, the greatest ability to regulate the market, but they have a commercial interest in the industry and cannot therefore act impartially. Perhaps the hair transplant industry, the ISHRS? Whilst they have credibility in the world of hair transplantation, with a couple of exceptions like Vinci Hair Clinic and Pro Hair Clinic, the industry as a whole is light years behind dedicated SMP providers in terms of their average skill level and patient outcomes. The permanent makeup industry? More than half of all artists are still using SPMU pigments despite all the evidence saying they shouldn’t. The tattoo industry? Not going to happen.

What does all this mean in the real world?

I believe this is a double-edged sword to a certain extent.

On one hand, customers will enjoy greater choice than ever before. Rather than simply deciding whether or not they want scalp micropigmentation, they will be able to specify what type of treatment they want, how long they want it to last and what variant of technician they would prefer to do the work. They will pay less than ever before, and be more likely than at any time in the past to get a great result.

For the industry however, the changing face of the marketplace will present new challenges. Customers will be harder to find, they will want to spend less money and demand better aftercare and longer guarantees. Marketing costs are already increasing as competition for auction-based online advertising hots up, and technicians are more likely to leave their employers and set up on their own.

I believe that poorly skilled or badly marketed clinics will be left with a stark choice – shape up, or go out of business. As for the leading clinics, as well as all the single-location providers out there doing really great work, they just need to keep doing what they’re doing because attributes like experience, reputation and service will set them apart and help ensure their continued success.

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