Big Pharma’s latest target: Botox for 20-somethings

Starting young.
Starting young.
Image: Reuters/Mike Segar
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Allergan, the pharmaceutical giant best known for its injectable wrinkle-reducer Botox (botulinum toxin) and dermal filler Juvéderm, made its latest play for the 20-something market last week with the launch of Regi, a booking site for beauty services. According to Glossy, the company is partnering with ten social media influencers for Regi’s launch, which will allow users to book appointments in New York and LA for manicure and makeup services, as well as medical-aesthetic procedures such as injectables and fillers.

Regi follows the conglomerate’s millennial-focused “Own Your Look” Botox campaign, which rolled out this past January. The campaign marked the first time the company has shifted ad dollars from TV and print to digital and social channels (for instance, its now using Instagram stories and IGTV to promote Botox to its nearly 400k followers). “Own Your Look” also marked a pivot in Allergan’s marketing of Botox just to its core clients (women 40 and up), toward new ones it’s trying to capture: 20- and 30-somethings.

The move is a natural one for Allergan, which saw the net revenue of Botox alone tick up 14% in its 2018 third quarter report. What’s more, per the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery’s 2018 survey, the number of Botox treatments among 22- to 37-year-olds has risen 22% since 2013.

Indeed, a wave of Instagram-friendly clinics like Alchemy 43, Kate Somerville, and Skin Laundry have popularized medical beauty treatments (services like Botox, fillers, lip injections and laser treatments) for the under-30 crowd.

These clinics avoid the sanitized look of a medical facility, and have a different pricing structure from traditional services. For instance, a membership at the Botox-treatment provider Alchemy 43 is $99 a month, which works as a credit towards Botox treatments priced at $270 to $450, and clients get access to various perks, like complimentary fillers. The average fee-per-treatment with a specialist, per a 2017 report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), is $385.

With the barrier for entry so low—and the cutesy branding dispelling the stigma around fillers melting or freezing your face—it’s not unlikely that a 20-something in your life has integrated these treatments into their beauty routines (or even their lunch breaks).

Of course, this all begs the question of whether we’re treating these medical treatments too casually, especially in the Instagram age, where social media is thought to be driving an unhealthy interest in medical-cosmetic treatments amongst young people. For their part, dermatologists generally agree that preventative Botox in your mid-20s and thirties isn’t dangerous—but the consumer should be aware of the real risks involved.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the price of Botox treatments at Alchemy 43.