Tuesday, 06 September 2016 02:29

Cultural Marketing: How Communication and Relationships Can Differ Due to Clients’ Cultural Backgrounds

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by Mara L. Shorr and Angelica Pierini


The world is a diverse place that allows for the enjoyment of cross-cultural interaction. As a result, skin care professionals must be careful when trying to fit their spa’s culture into a sea of sameness because their demographic makeup greatly affects a number of factors including the methods with which the spa is marketed to clients and how they are communicated with once they are in the spa.


Evaluate the client’s demographics.  Look at where they were born, what languages they speak, their predominant gender and sexual preference, age, education level, and income bracket.  Knowing all of these things will offer incredible insight moving forward. A spa in New York City, for instance, will have a different makeup than a spa in West Virginia.


Keep in mind that not all broadly-grouped clients look and think alike.  For example, within a Latino client base, a client from Mexico looks at messaging and communication different than a client from Venezuela. Although they may share the same language, there are certain phrases and sayings specific to each of their cultures.


Once the primary and secondary languages of the client base are determined, be sure to staff the spa appropriately.  If 100 percent of the clientele base speaks English, then be sure that the entire staff has a solid grasp on not only the English language, but also on the specific medical and spa terminology the spa uses as well. If a South Florida spa sees more Spanish speaking clients than English speaking clients, that spa’s staff should be able to efficiently communicate with the clients in Spanish. Many spas fall short in this area alone, hiring a warm body that may only communicate in one language.  Let the clients dictate the need, not the other way around.  In addition, women tend to like more communication than men, so be sure the receptionist chats with the clients accordingly at check-in and check-out.


Market according to the target market.  If the spa has a high Mandarin-speaking population, for example, seek out publications, both in print and online, that attract Mandarin speakers.  Utilize collateral material in both English and Mandarin, making sure that it reflects the appropriate dialect of the client base. Various terminology, even in the same language, may mean something completely different depending on where the client was raised.


Tailor services to the current demographic and the desired demographic. For instance, some markets see a Brazilian butt lift as wildly popular, while others run at the thought and are more focused on facial injectables.  Knowing the client is and what their cultural backgrounds are will dictate their needs, wants, and desires down the line. It will also help to compose a menu of services, as well as the appropriate pricing.


Be prepared when it comes to pricing and the concept of negotiation.  Some cultures are happy to pay high sticker prices for a procedure or treatment, while others like to feel that they received a deal.  Know the spa’s demographic and be prepared for haggling, pricing services accordingly.  Consider incorporating wiggle room where possible, especially if it is an important client.


Know the level of intimacy welcomed by the clients. In some cultures, clients are satisfied by shaking the hands of their professional at the end of a consult or a procedure. In other cultures, like the Latin America community, for example, clients want a hug, feeling that the professional is a close part of their inner circle; another type of greeting or exit could seem rude or cold.


Referrals may come easily or in secret.  Some cultures include clients who do not like to tell their peers which procedures they have had. Others will shout the name of a quality provider from the rooftops!  When looking at the spa’s referral program, know which to expect when planning out marketing efforts.


Evaluate the concept of gift cards and discounts to see why each may or may not be working.  Keep in mind that gift cards are far more prevalent in the United States than in other countries, so the spa’s demographic may be looking for a discount, 20 percent off, for example, instead of a gift card for a certain dollar figure.


When writing a website copy, remember to keep it simple. Key words will make for great search engine optimization, but avoid the medical jargon that will leave clients feeling lost in the mix.  Since the skin care professional is most likely to have clients with a range of education levels, spanning from a high school degree to a Ph.D. utilize wording that goes no higher than a high school level to ensure clients can understand the key message.


Use images that speak to client demographics.  For example, if the spa sees mostly African American females, use models, and real client before and after images that reflect that demographic.  If the spa sees a large number of fit Latin American men, show images that reflect that client base as well.  Remember, the professional wants their clients to be able to see how they will fit into the spa. The professional should also be relatable to their clients, so that they feel more comfortable and trust the professional from the start of the relationship.


Mara Shorr, B.S., CAC II-VI, serves as the company’s vice president of marketing and business development. She is level II-VI certified aesthetic consultant, utilizing her knowledge and experience to help clients achieve their potential. She is also a national speaker and writer. shorrsolutions.com


Angelica Pierini graduated from Florida International University with a double major in International Business and Marketing. She is currently the marketing director for Pierini Esthetic Surgery and organizes events for the company.

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