Read the Conversation

EF: From your perspective, from the standpoint of Merz Aesthetics. Do you see this year as a challenge or an opportunity?

JP: This year is going to be a great year for us and for the industry as well. From an economic point of view, we see lots of great indicators. Having spoken to different people from the financial sector, they seem optimistic, which is a good sign.  

In terms of the aesthetics industry, we are at an inflection point; people are still learning about it and still have to understand the procedures better to continue doing them. They continue seeing these procedures as something very noticeable and exaggerated. It is simply not like that. A great procedure is one in which you can not tell what is happening, but you know that something is happening. For instance, when you meet someone, and you think: You got something done, but I do not know what it is. This is precisely what we are trying to do.

It is not like looking like someone else, like having the lips of a famous actress. It’s about the symmetry of your face, aligned with your own beauty definition. We have got to educate our customers, our consumers, to help them understand that this is like going to the salon and doing your hair naturally. It is the same thing, but attending a health professional. I am positive about the next 12 months; we have got everything in favor to have a great year.

EF: Could you elaborate on your footprint and your portfolio and how it's evolving in Mexico?

For the past 20 years, our company has been on a fantastic journey in Mexico, facing both challenges and successes. Innovation is in our DNA, and we are continuously striving to provide high-quality products. However, our true impact on Mexico goes beyond money; it is about building a sustainable future for the industry.

Differentiating ourselves in the market and ensuring our products' safety and efficacy is becoming more important, considering all the new brands coming to the market. We have to think about what needs to be done to become sustainable in the long run, not thinking in short sight because that is when serious mistakes happen. We take this industry seriously; we understand the significance of clinical studies and research. Our commitment to responsible products for our customers and training physicians with the right coaching is essential.

Beauty is subjective, and individual preferences vary. Nonetheless, anatomy is a fundamental aspect that we emphasize in the events we organize. We recognize the possible gaps that could exist among physicians and believe that educating them about anatomy is crucial to achieving better patient outcomes.

Merz Aesthetics’ mission is to fuel confidence by helping people look better, feel better, and live better. When patients leave our clinics feeling more confident, it contributes to their overall well-being. Of course, there is a commercial side, but beyond that, we aim to instill confidence in people and help them face the world with positivity and self-assurance. This pursuit drives us and makes our company truly special.

EF: Could you elaborate on the strategic significance of the events? Why are they so important to Merz?

JP: Our company's differentiation comes from investing heavily in research, studies, and innovation to develop new techniques and products. We recently organized the Merz Expert Summit in Latin America, an exclusive event for experts, where we showcased innovative techniques and product benefits to improve patient outcomes. It's not solely about sales but about educating doctors and providing them with the right products to benefit patients.

Our strategy is to reach more patients who may not be aware of our products' potential and prioritize feeling better about themselves. Events like the Expert Summit attract a diverse audience, including experts from Mexico, Central America, and South America. We also organized other events with international speakers from Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and the US, among other countries, where we presented groundbreaking research and techniques, capturing the audience's attention and receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback.

EF: How do you assess the potential for Mexico to emerge as an innovation hub within the Latin American market?

JP: Regarding the aesthetic market, it represents a significant opportunity with vast potential. When engaging with doctors, they present various perspectives and techniques. However, the importance lies in validating and supporting such innovations through research and studies in the medical field to elevate them beyond personal opinions.

We have an initiative called the "Innovation Forum" by inviting global experts, which complements our Expert Summit for Latin America. This project is divided into two categories, where physicians submit new techniques and novel approaches from around the world. Three years ago, a Mexican doctor achieved second place, and last year, a Nicaraguan doctor secured first place. While we manage Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico as affiliates, we handle five countries in Central America and five in South America through distributors. This year, we have a Mexican representative as a finalist for the global competition, which will take place in November.

This is evidence that there is a lot of talent in Mexico. However, this situation also presents a challenge for us as a company. We must consider how we can better support and promote the innovations discovered here. It is essential to facilitate the publication and development of these breakthroughs. Winning the competition and showcasing our achievements is significant, but our focus is on enabling physicians to publish their advancements and contribute to the industry's growth and maturity. As the industry evolves, more brands may enter the markets.

EF: Whether we consider healthcare, the hospital industry, or the physicians' sector, the talent in the healthcare industry is remarkably strong. The potential of the Mexican talent pool has been acknowledged by many companies we have interviewed.

JP: When I arrived in Mexico from Colombia, I initially thought they were behind in many aspects. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the talent and capabilities of Mexican doctors. I questioned what we, as a company, were doing to support them and help them flourish. I had a conversation with the President of LATAM, expressing my surprise at not fully exploring the potential in Mexico. We have the talent here, and it's our responsibility to assist their growth and provide development plans, English classes, new techniques, studies, and publishing support.

We've got everything that we need here, everything. Talent is here. The willingness is here. The knowledge is something that we have to acquire. Our goal is to progressively showcase their capabilities in prominent forums and leverage the company's support and the region's backing to facilitate their progress.  

EF: It appears that Merz Aesthetics’ purpose extends well beyond sales and commercial interests. How do you utilize common spaces to advance the purposes you've discussed?

JP: While we cannot form partnerships with competitors, we are determined to reach more physicians and LATAM patients, even though we are not allowed to engage directly with patients. We convey the message to ensure the right product selection, support, and scientific foundation. It can be challenging to explain these concepts to patients who may not be familiar with medical terminology.

To expand our reach, we are exploring partnerships with non-competitive companies and targeting different types of doctors, including residents and experienced professionals. While adhering to regulations, we use various media channels to connect with consumers. We own a program called "BetterSelf," focusing on holistic approaches to promoting wellness and providing reliable content to improve healthy habits. The aim is to boost patients' confidence and well-being while also providing opportunities for doctors to interact with them in a supportive environment.

EF: You recently celebrated your five-year anniversary at the company. If you had to give a speech to celebrate, what would you include?

Over the past five years, I have undergone significant changes, taking on three roles in two different countries. My focus has not solely been on achieving results but also on the environment in which those results are obtained. The company's culture and how we navigate challenges play a crucial role in our success. I believe that leaving a positive legacy and fostering a healthy work environment is just as important as achieving our goals.

During this time, we have experienced ups and downs, created teams from scratch, and restructured affiliates. The challenges have been intense, leading some employees to work late hours, but I recognize that this should not become the norm. My approach has been to carefully consider the legacy I want to leave and work towards improving any aspects that are not in alignment with our values.

I appreciate the trust and freedom that Merz Aesthetics grants its employees to manage their responsibilities and processes. We have the autonomy to adapt and make decisions, which contributes to our unique culture. I believe that building and sustaining a positive culture is vital for long-term success. Results are essential, but they can be influenced by how objectives are set and negotiated. The culture, on the other hand, should remain constant and foster an environment where people feel empowered to share their ideas and opinions openly.

Ultimately, creating the right forums and fostering open communication is crucial for the well-being of the company and its employees. It goes beyond just looking at numbers; it involves developing the right people, providing proper training, and encouraging the expression of ideas and feedback. This approach helps us ensure a supportive and productive environment for everyone.

EF: If you had to create a road map to the future for the healthcare aesthetics industry in Mexico for the next 5 to 10 years, which would your three base pillars be?

JP: The culture and the environment that you create in the organization are fundamental. From that, it depends on a lot of things. It depends on people giving their best in the day-to-day.

The second one would be to continue with our values. We have three different values. One of them is persisting in the innovation of this industry. We have not reached its maturity yet; this is why we have to continue innovating in medicine. There's always something that we can innovate on our products: the techniques, the way we approach patients, the way we do processes. Asking questions that foster innovation continuously from different points of view is essential. We need to reflect: Are we consistently pushing the boundaries, or are we staying within our comfort zone? Are we actively pursuing the development of new and improved approaches? Are we striving for improvement in every aspect of our work?  

The third pillar will also just understand the trends, understand the market, understand what's going on, what's going on outside, what's going on inside at the local level, what are the needs of their patients, the needs of the doctors because they are going to help you discover new necessities in the market.  

Our founder, Friedrich Merz, always had this question of what's needed. He applied this question to the many different companies we worked at. We must constantly reevaluate every aspect of the company because maybe what made us great is no longer needed, or maybe it has become irrelevant.  

This is the key to success.

EF: Do you have a final message to share with our readers?

JP: It is evident that many companies are actively promoting their brands and seeking market share through appealing KPIs and sales strategies. However, consumers must conduct thorough research before choosing any product. Understanding the reasons behind the superiority of a particular product compared to others is essential.

There is a growing concern regarding new brands entering the market without proper consideration for adverse events. It is imperative to exercise caution while selecting products and physicians. While some practitioners may perform procedures effectively, others may lack the necessary training, potentially jeopardizing the industry's reputation. Unfortunately, there is no standardized way to rank or evaluate physicians, leaving patients to navigate this aspect on their own.

As an industry, we are limited in our ability to publish information or rank physicians due to regulations. Thus, patients often face challenges in obtaining comprehensive and reliable information about products and brands. While we assure the quality of our products with studies and research, this may not always be evident to patients, leading to misunderstandings.

The cost and effort associated with conducting studies to validate products are significant but often underestimated by the public. Consequently, patients need to be discerning and cautious when choosing products and physicians, relying on trustworthy sources and responsible practices.

In summary, while companies may employ various marketing tactics, consumers should make informed decisions by conducting their research. Being vigilant about the credibility and reliability of products and physicians is vital to ensure a positive experience and desirable outcomes within the industry.

August 2023