Oprah speaks: Thermage surges in popularity

Beauty in Seattle on 15 Feb 2007 at 11:06pm

Thermage is so popular it has allowed the manufacturer to go public and sell shares.Thermage is such a hot trend in cosmetic surgery alternatives that the Thermage company has grown into a market capitalization that exceeds $180M (as of this writing).  Thermage is traded on NASDAQ as THRM

What set off the Thermage spike in interest in the first place? None other than Oprah, the Queen of American product recommendations. Oprah has repeatedly featured Thermage on her TV program, speaking of the virtues of Thermage vs. invasive plastic surgery such as a face-lift.

The power and influence of Oprah is often reported (the founder of Philosophy skin care calls it the brand Oprah built). I hadn't realized how much an impact she has on the beauty market until I spoke to a friend who did merchandising at drugstore.com. She summed up her drugstore.com merchandising strategy in strikingly simple terms.

First, online skin care is dominated by women who want products you can't easily spot on the shelves of a local drugstore or even Nordstroms. These shoppers are sophisticated and demand the latest-and-greatest in skin care ingredients and products. That translates into demand for new products that celebrities are trying out.

Nothing, however, is as influential as a beauty product mentioned in an Oprah show. Try selling a skin cream that isn't mentioned by Oprah, you'll see sales sputter along. Get inventory in the product Oprah raves about, watch the orders fly in and product move. No special promotion needed. Just access to the inventory to keep the stuff available to customers.

The intriguing bit about Thermage is that we’re not talking about a $200 wrinkle cream. Thermage costs over $2500, as reported by RealSelf members who've shared their Thermage experiences.  And getting a Thermage treatment takes plenty of advanced planning. First, you need to find a dermatologist or doctor in your area with Thermage equipment.  In addition to finding the person who has the ability to adminster Thermage, you want someone who’s done dozens of Thermage treatments on other patients before attending to your facial skin.

The final kicker in the quest for following Oprah's Thermage recommendation? You won’t see immediate results; you need to wait nearly 6 months for your skin to generate new collagen. Thermage energy pulses are meant to stimulate your skin cells to produce collagen--which basically fills in the wrinkles and tightens the sagging skin—but this is a natural process which requires cellular level activity on your behalf.

The fact that Oprah is driving massive increase demand in such a complex, slow-to-realize-the-benefits treatment only serves as a reminder to anyone in the skin care or cosmetics business: when Oprah speaks, you better listen.