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Digital technologies are supporting health systems’ efforts to transition to new models of patient-centered care and helping them develop “smart health” approaches to increase access and affordability, improve quality, and lower costs.
Being healthy isn’t a new concept, but several macro factors have changed how consumers think about and shop for health.
As we said earlier, the digital health market is experiencing massive gains on a global scale—a trend which is predicted to continue into 2020 and beyond.
From a bird’s-eye view, there are three overarching reasons that this growth has occurred.
Be sure to note how each intertwine with one another—ultimately leading to a virtuous cycle of growth that is likely to continue well into the future.
Across the globe, access to proper health and wellness services—be it medicine, fitness equipment, or exercise regimens—isn’t guaranteed to everyone.
Products and services may not be offered in certain areas of the world at all. And, even in places where such services are offered, there’s no guarantee that said services will be of high quality (especially in areas with limited resources, talent, etc.).
Paradoxically, in many areas where high-quality health and wellness services do exist, the consumer may be constrained in a number of ways: too busy to focus on their health and often can’t afford to spend time traveling to the gym, waiting for a doctor, or going through the motions to fill prescriptions.
Since the health-conscious consumer is now able to get what they need on their terms (via on-demand service, delivery, etc.), they’ve become much more able and inclined to focus on the areas of health and wellness in their own lives.
In the “olden days”—a mere two or three decades ago—consumers’ only option in terms of healthcare services was to head to their local doctor’s office, hospital, or clinic.
But, anyone who’s been to the doctor will tell you that there’s a lot of red tape involved in the process. From dealing with insurance issues, to the prospect of working with healthcare professionals who are more interested in pushing pills than helping patients, consumers have lost a good amount of trust in the traditional healthcare industry.
While eCommerce health and wellness companies are bound by the same laws and regulations as traditional institutions, many brands present their services as more streamlined and customer-focused than the traditional alternatives.
For the consumer, this can mean lower costs, less friction, and overall better service.
The increased accessibility to higher-quality, convenient health and wellness services has led consumers to begin putting their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing back in the spotlight.
Basically, when such services aren’t available, it’s easy for the consumer to adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. But, when the consumer essentially has no excuse not to engage with these services, they’ll be much more likely to do so.
In a way, you might say that the influx of on-demand, digital health and wellness companies has actually spurred an increase in demand for the services they provide. While saturation certainly can occur within the industry as more companies hop aboard the bandwagon, it may still be a long ways off in certain health and wellness niches.
The inherent reason consumers enlist the help of health, wellness, or beauty services is to inch closer to becoming the person they truly want to be.
It’s not about experiencing instant results nor feeling better in the short-term; it’s about making a long-term commitment to grow healthier—whether physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.
This doesn’t happen overnight. And it doesn’t happen if the consumer only uses these products or services every once in a while.
For the health-conscious consumer to experience the results they seek, they need to integrate their chosen health products or services into their lives completely.
A few examples:
This is all the more true for wearable fitness trackers. A 2018 Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) report found that almost half (49%) the people in the United States own a wearable device. Health-conscious consumers expect their wearable devices to help them live longer (70%), maintain a healthy weight (63%) and pay less in insurance premium (62%).
of health-conscious consumers expect their wearable devices to help them live longer
of health-conscious consumers expect their wearable devices to help them maintain a healthy weight
of health-conscious consumers expect their wearable devices to help them pay less in insurance premium
If such products or services are inconvenient or otherwise difficult to use, it’ll be easy for the consumer to neglect them altogether. In turn, they aren’t going to form a habitual use of the service—and won’t end up experiencing the true value of them at all.
On the other hand, brands that focus on integrating their services into the lives of their target audience—in a positive and beneficial way, of course—will almost certainly see a growing and loyal fanbase in their near future.
Wellness trips now account for 17% of total global tourism expenditures. In fact, over the past five years, Asia has become the number one destination of wellness travellers, attracting both trips and revenues.
As a result retail sales of health and wellness products such as massage and yoga equipment, health supplements, essential oils has seen an exponential increase in demand.
In order to enable the above-mentioned integration, health and wellness brands need to begin seeing their offering as a means to an end—not an end unto itself.
In other words, simply providing beauty products, vitamins, or on-demand healthcare regimens isn’t enough to get consumers onboard. Rather, health and wellness providers need to build an overall experience for their customers, in which their actual products or services play a vital role.
Partnerships with physical locations, be they gyms, spas, hotels, or retreat centers, is a brilliant way to enter your customers daily lives.
We alluded to this earlier, but let’s make it crystal clear:
It is imperative that your true focus is on helping your target audience grow into the person they’ve always wanted to be.
While this applies to brands operating in any industry, it’s perhaps most important in the health and wellness niche. Sacrificing the quality of your products or services to save some money here and there—to the detriment of your customers—can lead not only to a loss of trust, but also to potential legal ramifications, as well.
You also need to ensure your brand’s authenticity shines through clearly to your audience. This means going above and beyond for them whenever necessary in order to help them reach their goals.
A few examples:
A huge part of the customer experience is allowing your individual audience members to become a part of something larger than themselves.
Luckily, social media and other social-focused technology has made it easier than ever to build a community of like-minded, loyal customers.
What’s important here is that the community you build for your health and wellness brand is full of individuals intent on building each other up, enabling everyone involved to become the best version of themselves they can be.
To make this happen, you’ll need to provide multiple opportunities for your audience to get involved in the community, such as:
While more consumers are becoming more focused on their own health and wellness, some level of stigmatization still manages to stick around.
(Body shaming, for example, is rather prevalent—as is the stigma surrounding those seeking professional help for mental health reasons.)
Unfortunately, such stigmas can dissuade otherwise driven individuals to not partake in activities that can lead to growth in these and other areas. If they aren’t willing to partake in these activities, they aren’t going to become a patron of your company.
So, it’s up to the modern health and wellness brand to eradicate these stigmas as best as possible. As discussed above, this involves building a community of caring individuals who are intent on helping each other succeed.
Before this can happen, though, health and wellness brands must create a safe and secure environment in which such a community can be built. This goes back to making it absolutely clear that the company is always acting in the best interest of the customer—and is always looking for ways to celebrate their audience’s successes.
As demand grows, naturally, so does supply.
This increase in competition will inherently lead to innovation throughout the overall health and wellness niche. Needless to say, the companies that can stay ahead of the competition are the ones who will thrive well into the future.
The direct-to-consumer model is one of the main driving forces of this innovation. Especially in the CPG niche, brands are now able to take full control over the customer experience—and the modern health-conscious consumer is absolutely loving it.
In turn, this has caused many established companies to take note—and make some drastic changes. In some cases (such as with Gillette), we’re seeing larger corporations create their own DTC eCommerce service to compete with successful startups in their niche. In other instances, we’re seeing established companies buyout newly-successful startups (such as Unilever’s acquisition of Dollar Shave Club).
It’s worth noting that, in both cases, this is great news for forward-thinking startups.
On the one hand, their ability to innovate has enabled them to truly be seen as competitors to established billion-dollar companies. On the other, legacy brands’ interest in acquiring smaller company gives small business owners increasing incentive to enter the market.