nvisalign has just announced they have treated their 6-millionth patient so we thought we would take a look at the growth of this innovative product. Invisalign, as a company, started in March 1997 and provided their first aligners to orthodontists in July 1999. With any new product, it takes a while to become established and it took until April 2009 for sales to reach one million patients. In this time, Invisalign had launched a number of new products including Vivera retainers and Invisalign Teen and started marketing their aligners to general dentists keen to expand their portfolio of treatments to include teeth straightening.
It took a further three and a half years before they announced their 2-millionth patient in November 2012. Further new products were added to their line including a number of short-term orthodontic products. With interest in Invisalign growing, it only took until March 2015 for Invisalign to announce they had started treating their 3-millionth patient. Their 4-millionth patient followed just 18 months later in September 2016 and from a patients perspective, Invisalign was becoming readily available across the UK from both specialist orthodontists and dental practices and provided an alternative to more traditional orthodontic treatments.
Their 5-millionth patient was announced in November 2017 with their 6-millionth patient following just over a year later in December 2018. With this pace of growth, we are expecting to see Invisalign announce their 7-millionth patient before the end of 2019 and would not be surprised if this happened somewhere around October or November.
So what can you learn about marketing orthodontics from the approach Invisalign have taken? Firstly, irrespective of any debate on the efficiency or suitability of this system, Invisalign has provided an innovative technology-driven solution that, from a marketing perspective, meets the needs of adult patients considering orthodontic treatment. The entire workflow from having a scan and seeing on-screen the results of aligner treatment gives the patient the opportunity to evaluate whether the investment they are about to make is likely to give them the results they are looking for. Whilst it is accepted that the final results can be achieved with many different forms of treatment, to date, it is only Invisalign who can provide this simulation real-time whilst the patient is in the chair. Seeing an image of the patients own teeth rather than viewing a model of the treatment also helps the patient to start buying into the solution from this early stage.
The aligners themselves are marketed as an innovative product and Invisalign takes advantage of this by promoting all the benefits their aligners provide to the patient. On their patient-focused website, they describe their aligners as ‘The worlds most advanced clear aligner system’. This is backed up by some key patient-friendly reasons for considering aligner treatment such as ‘fast, clear, comfortable, removable, and proven’. Whilst most of these terms are subjective, if you were to ask a patient considering orthodontic treatment what they were looking for they would probably say they wanted the treatment to be quick and efficient, pain-free, discreet and to not interfere too much with their lifestyle. Could these terms apply to other treatment options you offer too?
Invisalign also focusses on lifestyle images in their marketing where the focus isn’t directly on their products but on patients enjoying a beautiful smile. You very rarely see clinical before and after photos instead, the focus is on the benefits of the aligners and the patient experience. Compare this to many websites where clinicians showcase their skills aligning teeth in difficult circumstances producing a good final result but does this contribute to the marketing of your practice if, as a patient, you might not be ‘qualified’ to interpret the results?
The rapid growth of Invisalign aligner cases also serves to remind us that the demand for orthodontic treatment continues to accelerate. It is possible, with some well thought out marketing and effective patient engagement activities, to attract new patients to your practice and there’s certainly no harm in using some of the techniques which have helped Invisalign to grow their business so effectively.
Patients data source: http://www.aligntech.com
Images © Invisalign Inc. / fotolia.com
Invisalign’s 6-millionth patient is Yuzhe, a 12 year-old student from China who began treatment in October 2018.
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