8 minute read 22 Mar 2022
Embracing consumerism: How the shift to preventive care will redefine consumer health buying

Embracing consumerism: How the shift to preventive care will redefine consumer health buying

Authors
Miguel Duarte

EY US Consumer Health Leader

Passionate about strategy and innovation. Deep knowledge in the consumer, life sciences and health sectors. Brings new approaches to solve business issues and provoke transformative thinking.

Laura McGarrity

EY-Parthenon Principal, Digital Innovation, Ernst & Young LLP

Leading digital transformation efforts for clients. Extensive experience in emerging technology and start-up ecosystems. Gardening pro.

Michael Botos

EY Americas Health Sciences & Wellness Strategy Leader

Business strategist. Entrepreneurial and transformational leader. Innovator, collaborator, connector. Helping others see new opportunities and have the courage to pursue them.

Susan Lee

EY-Parthenon Americas Commercial Strategy Leader

Working mother. High-performing team builder. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) advocate. Helps companies and people transform and grow.

Haley Clement

Director, Strategy and Transactions, EY-Parthenon, Ernst & Young LLP

Firm believer in empowering people to engage with their health and well-being. Passionate about the intersection of health, food systems and technology. Enthusiastic rock climber and weightlifter.

8 minute read 22 Mar 2022

Consumers expect more from health and wellness providers, including tools, strategies and informed insight on how to lead healthier lives.

In brief 

  • The pandemic has boosted awareness of health and wellness, motivating consumers to take proactive steps to mitigate the risk of illness and disease.
  • The evolution of digital tools that enable key biometrics to be tracked and monitored has empowered consumers to take greater control of their own wellbeing.
  • Health and wellness companies have an opportunity to reimagine health care, moving beyond pills to deliver reliable, valued expertise to consumers.

Consumers are taking significantly greater interest in their own health and wellness and the steps they can take to lead healthier lives. The EY Future Consumer Index 2021 found that 82% of respondents were concerned about their family’s health and 57% saw healthy products as becoming more important in their shopping priorities. In addition, 29% said they would pay a premium for products promoting health and wellness.¹

The pandemic has been an accelerator for self-care and awareness about health and wellness indicators, although it is the growing comfort level with using digital tools to track health metrics such as blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, sleep quality, and caloric intake that makes self-care widely possible. People want to know what their health and wellness numbers show and what they can do to improve biometrics that aren’t where they are supposed to be, creating a virtuous cycle of self-care and exponential information.

The proliferation of mobile devices, social media and other evolving digital and sensor technologies has created a wealth of information, not all of it reliable, that consumers can read and react to. In 2020, health care’s share of all the data created worldwide amounted to 21 zettabytes, or 21 trillion gigabytes, according to Forbes.²

This shift from a reactive to a preventive care model will redesign the why, what and how of consumer health and wellness buying. The challenge for consumer health and wellness companies, as well as large e‑commerce companies entering the space, is to develop a strategy to embrace this opportunity. Consumers are growing much more sophisticated, completely resetting the bar on what they expect from consumer health and wellness companies. This is leading to the rise of new industry segments such as digital therapeutics (DTx), which spans from education and search tools such as GoodRx and ZocDoc. They address the basic health care information-based needs of consumers, to well-being and fitness apps and telehealth and remote monitoring offerings.³

Big tech companies are also making investments in monitoring devices. They have developed products and services spanning this space, and they are building out their respective positions through acquisitions, partnerships and organic growth. The US Food and Drug Administration’s Software Precertification Pilot Program was created in response to this trend to provide more streamlined and efficient regulatory oversight of software-based medical devices developed by manufacturers.⁴

Broadly speaking, consumers are now much more aware of what’s happening in their bodies, and they expect the market to respond with innovative health and wellness solutions that address these needs. If there are steps consumers can take to be healthier, to have more energy and to be more active, they are going to do it. It is up to consumer health companies to respond to this shift and meet them where they are to become a reliable means of support on this journey. 

Empower digital self-care

As consumers increasingly use technology to monitor their daily health and wellness indicators, consumer health companies have an opportunity to adapt and provide technology that serves their needs. Proactive action over these indicators will become part of consumers’ daily routine. The ways in which data is shared bidirectionally to provide insights to the consumer to improve their lives and their experience with health and wellness companies will redefine the value exchange.

For example, Johnson & Johnson’s Zyrtec ALLERGYCAST app provides the pollen count each day for the user’s zip code, along with an allergy impact number.⁵ Thanks to a proprietary algorithm, the app uses multiple factors such as weather and social media mentions of allergies in that zip code to provide an idea of how likely that person is to have symptoms each day. Asking Google Assistant to “talk to Zyrtec” pulls up the experience and asks consumers about their allergies, including their location, and what information they want to use to create personalized daily pollen reports. Weather factors such as wind, precipitation and regional differences feed into the recommendations that are made. J&J also developed the Neutrogena Skin360™ app, which enables a skin scanner to track the health of a consumer’s skin. The app analyzes how it is changing over time and helps the user confirm that their beauty regimen is achieving results.⁶ Each scan identifies over 2,000 facial attributes like dark circles, wrinkles, fine lines, smoothness, and dark spots.

The opportunity for consumer health companies is to move beyond simply providing people with health and wellness metrics and to pair those metrics with products that help them move closer to their desired goal. If you’re a diabetes patient, you could use a mobile app to track your glucose or blood sugar that would be connected to your care team to get you the medicine or nutritional strategies you need to keep those numbers under control. The relevant growth driver for consumer health companies is based on their ability to build a reliable platform for daily monitoring and proactive actions that the patient can trust and will commit to using.

The idea is to do the same with blood oxygen and cholesterol monitoring, skin care, eye health, and a whole range of other things that people can track and manage in order to be able to lead a healthier life. Consumer health companies able to prove their worth and develop a solid operational strategy will have a chance to become a trusted ally in this effort.

Key questions for consumer health players to consider:

Non-exhaustive list 

  • Do you have a good understanding of the new health and wellness consumer journey?
  • How will you use technology to bring together consumers, retailers and consumer health companies?
  • How are you tapping into the continuous monitoring space?
  • What capabilities will you need to buy?
  • What alliances and/or capabilities can your work support?
  • What are the most valuable use cases to help address health care challenges aligned to the product portfolio?

Make prevention a priority

Prevention-oriented products will become dominant in consumers’ health and wellness shopping bags as this new business market develops. COVID-19 has certainly played a role in accelerating this shift. Awareness of health and wellness is as high as it has ever been, with the constant talk of vaccines and everyday activities and behaviors that can help people avoid getting sick. As a result, consumers are much more interested in products that can boost their immunity such as vitamin and herbal supplements, or better nutrition choices. 

Last year, P&G Personal Health Care introduced Nervive, a dietary supplement lineup dedicated to holistic nerve care and relief.⁷ This is where the connection between the consumer and the consumer health company becomes valuable. By developing tools to continuously monitor and pull data from consumer indicators, companies will have insight into what each patient needs and will be able to provide customized solutions that suit those needs.

One key to this business model is that the weight of prevention vs. cure in the portfolios of consumer health companies must change as prevention becomes more valuable for consumers.

Key questions for consumer health players to consider:

Non-exhaustive list 

  • Do you have a clear understanding of consumers’ unmet prevention needs and their willingness to spend?
  • Is your portfolio aligned to compete in the prevention space?
  • Where can you create new perceived value for the consumer?
  • How are you reinforcing the value of prevention in the pursuit of health and wellness?
  • What capabilities are you buying to bolster your presence in the prevention space?
  • Who are you partnering with in the health and wellness ecosystem to explore new preventive opportunities?

Embrace new health care platforms

Automatic purchasing will become an important new way of buying in a more connected and data-driven context. Consumers will link health and wellness indicator monitoring to one click or preprogrammed purchasing shopping interfaces in order to get immediate access to the specific products and services they need. Data will flow to make the buying experience seamless and instantaneous. The key to succeed in this context is consumer health companies’ future ability to build a presence on the new channels and platforms that work for a wide range of health and wellness products. These companies will need to learn how to connect with the right platforms from a digital standpoint, as well as create the right content to flow on those channels and deliver the right buying experience and information to consumers when they need it. 

The global health and hygiene company RB is working with Amazon to explore auto replenishment technologies for essential items such as baby formula, joint health supplements and air diffuser refills. Orders would be automatically placed when a customer’s supply gets low to protect against being caught without the product.⁸ It’s a technology that checks the boxes for consumer engagement and convenience, and one that has countless additional applications that could be explored.

Consumer health companies need to create a comprehensive strategy that leverages both physical locations and digital channels – embracing phygital, to coin a term. Product boxes will increasingly become platforms for broader connections and service delivery between brands and consumers. Consumers will have greater knowledge about which products in those boxes fit their needs. The boxes themselves will provide space for QR codes and other digital links to establish a connection with the consumer and expand that value proposition.

Health and wellness services will be interconnected with health and wellness data platforms to support continuous monitoring and personalization. Consumer data is the fundamental asset to be owned by the value chain players. Consumer health companies must be bold on this play to avoid losing brand power to retailers and private labels.

Key questions for consumer health players to consider:

Non-exhaustive list 

  • How are you envisioning new business models enabled by analytics?
  • How is your company getting ready to connect consumer data with new delivery channels and your products?
  • Are there any alliances/capabilities that can assist with interpreting and executing on consumer data?
  • What is your marketing strategy to continue building consumer engagement?
  • What problem are consumers trying to solve with your product? What tensions or orthodoxies stand in their way?

The views reflected in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ernst & Young LLP or other members of the global EY organization.

Summary

Health and wellness companies have an opportunity to capture share in this evolving market and become trusted allies for consumers. Those who can meet consumers where they’re at and provide value can change the way health care is delivered – now and into the future.

About this article

Authors
Miguel Duarte

EY US Consumer Health Leader

Passionate about strategy and innovation. Deep knowledge in the consumer, life sciences and health sectors. Brings new approaches to solve business issues and provoke transformative thinking.

Laura McGarrity

EY-Parthenon Principal, Digital Innovation, Ernst & Young LLP

Leading digital transformation efforts for clients. Extensive experience in emerging technology and start-up ecosystems. Gardening pro.

Michael Botos

EY Americas Health Sciences & Wellness Strategy Leader

Business strategist. Entrepreneurial and transformational leader. Innovator, collaborator, connector. Helping others see new opportunities and have the courage to pursue them.

Susan Lee

EY-Parthenon Americas Commercial Strategy Leader

Working mother. High-performing team builder. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) advocate. Helps companies and people transform and grow.

Haley Clement

Director, Strategy and Transactions, EY-Parthenon, Ernst & Young LLP

Firm believer in empowering people to engage with their health and well-being. Passionate about the intersection of health, food systems and technology. Enthusiastic rock climber and weightlifter.