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Why the high street is embracing aesthetic beauty

Kelle Salle
21 July 2022

Following news of the collaboration between John Lewis and Cavendish Clinic, it’s safe to say that aesthetic beauty won’t be leaving British high streets anytime soon.

In recent years, consumers were left with no choice but to take their beauty regimes into their own hands, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but attitudes have changed as powerhouse ingredients and skin care tools have been swapped in favour of something more permanent.

Although aesthetic beauty provides a quick fix to the clearer, more beautiful and more youthful skin that many consumers desire, it has attracted a fair amount of controversy in recent years. In 2019, high street giant Superdrug launched a Skin Renew service, where fillers were being offered from as little as £99, however, the NHS expressed concerns about the impact the service could have on those who have mental illnesses such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

So, what has changed over the past few years? Tracey Woodward, Beauty and Wellness Entrepreneur, says: “I believe that because regulations have opened up, it is easier to be able to perform treatments, however, it seems that consumers prefer knowledge and safety over value and convenience.”

For John Lewis, trust and safety were integral to the success of the partnership, which is why the department store carried out an extensive amount of research before collaborating with Cavendish Clinic. Jason Wilary-Atew, Head of Beauty at John Lewis said: “We know there’s increasing awareness and demand among consumers for advanced beauty treatments, so we were keen to collaborate with a trusted, medical clinic brand to deliver this service. Our collaboration with the Cavendish Clinic is an acceleration of these services. Customers can visit a clinic in selected John Lewis stores to experience bespoke skincare plans and consultations.”

Aesthetic beauty Superdrug

Superdrug partnered with Skin Renew to offer aesthetic treatments

Social media has been linked to the rise in cosmetic surgery as young people feel pressure to look a certain way. Last year, under 18’s were banned from getting Botox under a new law, which was welcomed by many. “Attitudes towards aesthetic beauty have changed because it’s become more mainstream with a younger client base, which makes me nervous. I believe it’s important for the consumer to understand and know what it is they want or need and why they are doing it,” Woodward said.

As one of the most respected retailers in the country, John Lewis are aware of the potential risks associated with making aesthetic beauty more accessible, which is why the services will not be advertised and injectables will not be available for anyone under the age of 25. “The Cavendish Clinic is medically-led and uses only skilled doctors to administer these treatments. All customers will be offered an initial doctor-led consultations during which treatment options and suitability will be discussed, and there will be a cooling off period between the initial consultation and treatment for those who haven’t had injectables before,” Wilary-Atew said.

Embracing aesthetic beauty might not be a path all brands want to follow, however, it is possible to use current offerings to capitalise on aesthetic beauty, whether this leads to a partnership like John Lewis’s or not. “Clinics that offer aesthetic services have a very loyal customer base and brands rightfully want to be where the consumers are. In my own clinic, doctor backed brands are preferred," Woodward said. Woodward was responsible for curating retail offerings for The Clinic Holland Park, introducing brands from all elements of beauty. “Curating a retail offering is a smart move as it allows a relationship to be built on so many levels as customers tend to buy beauty across all categories.”

For brands who want to tap into the trend but aren’t sure where to begin, John Lewis decided to launch a pilot, which proved to be a success. “We carried out research with our customers in five of our stores to see which of Cavendish’s services they would be most interested in. Our research showed that many customers were interested in advanced beauty treatments such as laser hair removal and anti-wrinkle injections," Wilary-Atew said. According to Woodward, the most important things to consider are whether the need is there, authenticity and products that can truly address skin issues.

Although information relating to the success of the collaboration isn’t available yet, John Lewis don’t see any downsides to having increased access to injectable treatments on British high streets. "We are offering a service that is already available in other high street stores, and in response to an existing demand from customers. There are also a number of safeguards in place to ensure that any treatments are a considered decision from potential customers,” Wilary-Atew said.

The Cavendish Clinic at John Lewis

‘’John Lewis’s partnership with Cavendish Clinic makes sense as it meets the needs of the consumer. When I ran the Urban Retreat business, we had a Medi spa as one of our elements to a full offering. If your business is offering hair and beauty services, it makes sense to find a reputable partner, like the department store has done. I believe we will see more of this in the future,” Woodward said.

Consumers are more powerful than ever, and although some may embrace the accessibility of aesthetic services, others may opt for more subtle treatments or pass on them altogether. Aesthetic beauty has become a firm fixture on British high streets but what does the future hold? “I believe aesthetic beauty will grow and potentially merge with self-care and wellness, particularly areas such as hormones, nutrition, acupuncture, counselling and health and general wellbeing. That’s our aim at The Clinic Holland Park,” Woodward said.

Aesthetic beauty is something that we will be seeing more of in the next few years as brands seek to elevate the traditional shopping experience. “Beauty consumers’ main focus is on feeling good and ultimately, looking good. It’s a journey of discovery as they determine the right products and treatments for them,” Woodward said. The collaboration between John Lewis and Cavendish Clinic will challenge perceptions of advanced beauty treatments. Safety, trust, and reducing the number of people using unqualified practitioners are the brand’s top priorities in this game-changing partnership, proving that aesthetic services in high street stores can be conducted successfully with the right strategies and approach in place.

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