Should Botox jabs really be available in a high street branch of Superdrug?

Posted on the 23 March 2011 at 16:06

This month, the UK’s second largest high street health and beauty retail chemist chain, Superdrug announced that it would be offering cosmetic treatments including botulinum toxin and dermal filler injections at two of its stores in Kensington, West London and Milton Keynes.

A spokesperson for Superdrug,  Anish Sabherwal said about the launch; “Now a customer can nip into our store during their lunch hour, get a manicure, have an anti-wrinkle consultation, have their brows threaded before choosing a sandwich meal deal and heading back to the office.”

Reassuring to know it’s all that simple as far as Superdrug is concerned!

The clinics being conducted in Superdrug stores will actually be carried out by doctors and dentists working for the Hampshire based business Cosmedoctor, founded in 2007 who currently operate through a number of practitioners visiting beauty salons the length and breadth of the UK. They also proudly display the Treatments You Can Trust Quality Assurance Mark for cosmetic injectable providers on their website.

As well as cosmetic injectables, Cosmedoctor will be offering medical skin needling (dermarollering), microdermabrasion and laser hair removal in a private treatment room located within the stores by the end of April.

They are said to be using a rival, cheaper brand to the well known Botox® brand of botulinum toxin with treatments starting at £145 for one area. One outspoken UK Cosmetic Doctor, Dr. Michael Prager was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying “‘I would imagine Superdrug wants a decent profit margin so, for just £145 per injection, I would question how much you are getting for your money.” Whether there is a reduced dose or the company is simply using one of the less expensive brands such as Azzalure® or Xeomin®/Bocouture® is unknown but clearly the marketing is being driven towards the provision of cheaper treatments.

The company state on their own blog that “As a company we feel our brand is ready for a high street location and as our treatments are affordably priced it ties in very well with the Superdrug brand.”

Similarly Mr. Sabherwal from Superdrug stated; “We believe that there is a real gap in the market for these kinds of treatments administered professionally by doctors, but in non-intimidating environments.”

The process is aimed at being both a fast and low cost service for customers, with a 15 minute consultation and subsequent treatment taking around 10 minutes; it truly could be considered to be a conveyer belt service, compared to most medical aesthetic clinics, who will spend a good hour with a patient, particularly a new one.

This is not Superdrug’s first venture into high street cosmetic treatments. Back in the autumn of 2007 they launched a similar model in conjunction with Transform Medical Group at their Brighton and Milton Keynes stores offering Botox®, dermal fillers (Restylane®, Hydrafill®, Radiesse®, Teosyal® and Sculptra®) as well as microdermabrasion. In this case treatments were provided by nurses from Transform, with Botox® administered under a patient group directive signed off by a doctor, something which is now seen as controversial and not at all best practice. Needless to say this partnership did not last long for reasons unknown.

Whether you agree or disagree with the Cosmedoctor business model and their tie-up with Superdrug, the bigger question is whether or not the general public will go for this concept, given that it has failed in the past.

Will price alone determine their decision making or will they vote with their feet and march straight past the high street ‘in and out’ option in favour of the discreet, relaxed bespoke medical aesthetic clinic around the corner. As Michael Prager put it in the Daily Mail, it’s like “going to the barber’s to have your hair cut, instead of a Nicky Clarke hair salon. They both use scissors but you end up with completely different results.” Only time will tell.

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