Defining your target market is essential in developing a winning marketing plan for your cosmetic surgery practice. Within your target market, multiple target "niche" audiences may exist for different surgical procedures. You may opt to specialize in a few niche market segments, depending on your specialty and opportunities. Market definition is usually a sequential process that starts with defining the macro, which is the larger target market, before honing in on the micro, which is your own target niche audiences.

Who and Why

Your target market definition should provide answers to two basic questions: Who are they? Why do they get cosmetic surgery? The "who" question is best answered by creating demographic profiles that describe your potential customers by quantifiable attributes, such as geographic location, age, gender, income, or marital status. Psychographic profiles will shed insight into the qualitative, motivational needs that cause your target audience to choose cosmetic surgery. These "hot buttons" will form the basis for developing your communication strategy.

Who They Are

According to a 2004 survey by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, as reported by "The New York Times," almost a third of the individuals contemplating plastic surgery reported average household incomes below $30,000, and only 13 percent had incomes over $90,000.

In its 2012 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report, the society reported that women accounted for 91 percent of the 14.6 million total cosmetic procedures in 2012. In another 2012 report, "The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology" reported that the "preponderance" of women cosmetic patients fall into one of two groups: those older than their partners, and those younger than their partners. Women the same age as their partners were less likely to get cosmetic surgery. Women cosmetic patients tend to have higher levels of education and employment than comparable census norms.

By age groups, adults between the ages 40 and 54 years accounted for 48 percent of all procedures. The over-55 age group accounted for 25 percent. The 20 to 39 age groups accounted for 24 percent.

The Whys

"The New York Times" identified an aging population, workplace competition, and a desire to look appealing to the opposite sex as leading motivators for seeking surgical solutions to appearance issues.

Moreover, instant credit places cosmetic surgery within reach of the masses. Many major finance companies do cosmetic surgery financing, including G.E. Capital and Capital One. Credit financing could offer significant potential for targeting people with modest household incomes in terms of messaging content, given finding in the survey by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons that a third of the people considering plastic surgery had household incomes of less than $30,000.

The Marketing Plan

Defining your target audience for cosmetic surgery is a critical element for developing a winning marketing plan. It will allow you to conduct a market analysis that assesses what you need to do to attract patients within those target segments. Then, you're much better positioned to develop the plans and strategies to drive your patient volume, tailoring them to align with what you know about your target audience and your findings in the market analysis.