When mid-March 2020 rolled around, the public health and economic crisis of our age scrambled everything. Now into the fourth quarter — retailers, distributors and resellers are on the brink of counting on what’s possibly the most uncertain holiday season ever!
A key consequential certainty arising out of 2020 and the pandemic are the opportunities that are emerging as people focused on health, self-care, wellness and fitness. Also, they are spending more time at home — whether creating home classrooms or working-from-home. Subsequently, these trends are generating new emerging business models, ways of doing business and revenue opportunities.
Health and wellness in its various permutations is taking center stage. It represents game-changing opportunities for the channel and retailers. It’s about retailers telling a story in their stores and catalogs – that is centered around creating value that is transforming the consumer health experience. During 2020, the demand for digital health products and connections to telehealth and apps, for physical and mental health access skyrocketed.
Like all of our digital experiences in other parts of our lives – consumers are starting to expect ‘health on demand’ – and this has only intensified with the pandemic. What relevant products are you stocking and how are you merchandising them?
Digital health is empowering consumers to take charge of their well-being. For retailers, this includes considering new types of products and services that are entering the market as a result of collaborations between science/health and technology companies. In many cases, these products are more sophisticated and therefore offer more value and profit opportunity. Many of these devices capture, store or transmit health data through some sort of add-on service. Is the service included with the product, or is sold as a separate subscription? What’s the model? What are the opportunities for retailers?
In addition, a new category within digital health is emerging. It’s called digital therapeutics and many of these products are or will be sold through the mainstream. These products are FDA approved – and their approval is based on regulatory reviewed evidence. Digital therapeutics deliver non-drug therapeutic interventions to prevent, manage, or treat a medical disorder or disease. It’s usually software-based that requires a piece of hardware like a dedicated device, accessory, tablet, smartphone or even a VR headset!
We started to see a wave of these types of products at CES 2020. Tivic Health is one such example. Its ClearUP Sinus Pain Relief is an FDA approved, over-the-counter non-invasive, small bioelectronic gadget. It harnesses the power of body’s electrical network to provide safe, non-drug options for consumers with a variety of medical and chronic conditions such as allergy-related sinus pain relief.
All of these forces and activities are also creating a new umbrella category — HealthTech – aka the ’next big thing.’
Even companies like Google, Apple, Amazon and others are jumping into HealthTech in different ways – ranging from devices and services, health research and supply chain management to developing relationships with providers or selling direct to consumers or through other channels.
In today’s pandemic environment, digital and connected health are a catalyst for the transformation of healthcare ecosystems in ‘real-time’ — and it’s accelerating the ‘consumerization of health.
Everyone is getting into the action. Channel leaders such as Target, Best Buy, Costco, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and others are turning their attention to health and wellness in new and imaginative ways. They’ve increased their SKUs of different types of ‘off-the-shelf’ products – and several have gone a step further – opening actual clinics.
Recently, Costco started selling COVID-19 tests online. For $130/kit, Costco will ship saliva tests to members’ homes. Members then send their saliva sample to a testing center in a pre-provided package; results come back in 24 to 48 hours. This is just the beginning of a new opportunity – as the FDA starts to approve increased at-home testing options.
CVS Health, which now includes the nation’s third-largest health plan in Aetna (the pharmacy’s benefit manager Caremark, 9,900 pharmacies and 1,100 retail MinuteClinics under one umbrella) hopes to change how consumers access healthcare and lower costs in the process. It is remodeling hundreds of stores into HealthHUB locations for everyday care that dedicates 20% of the store to healthcare services, products and personal care items. Now, imagine if you were to create an area focused on health, wellness and fitness products.
Retailers might consider looking for new product sources and opening relationships at both ends of the spectrum – known brands as well as with younger companies with innovative products. There’s also an influx of health products that are FDA approved – and thereby more likely to be eligible for insurance reimbursement. These products are at the fore of also creating or breaking into new mainstream marketplaces and offer a range of business development opportunities. Consider your community — and think outside the box!
Research from Facebook
During the summer of 2020, Facebook together with 3rd party research published a useful report for consumer tech channels. Meant to provide data points for digital marketers, this report looked at evolving digital media trends amidst the pandemic and incorporated responses from over 34,000 consumers.
The report identified five key global macro shifts – these trends are colliding with the consumer technology sector and offer insight into the new opportunities for retailers. The pandemic is impacting consumer behaviors and their purchasing decisions. Consider these trends as a guide to a slew of new products and devices that will be on people’s radar as personal health continues to be top of mind as we head into 2021.
As you review these trends, consider them within the scope of how to reimagine your current environment for current and future gains, including revenue and new business development opportunities as well as building branding and loyalty and engagement with your customers.
- Mindful Wellness. People needed to adjust to new ways of living, working, learning and parenting. They are taking control of their mental and physical well-being to counter the stress of the situation. This ranges from recreation, gardening and exercise to various forms of entertainment. Consider that overnight, baking bread became a popular family activity and distraction – and sourdough was one of those keywords trending on the Internet. Similarly, meditation and self-help apps skyrocketed and devices to enhance sleep became popular as did wearables to reduce stress and anxiety levels as well as to monitor one’s health or that of a loved one from afar. Checkout TouchPoint, below.
- Connected Convenience. Feeling together while apart has become central. Consider the exponential growth in the way people are connecting with businesses and the way brands are messaging. Or, socializing with friends or colleagues for a virtual cocktail hour via Zoom or seeing grandkids via Facetime. The demand for webcams skyrocketed overnight! Think about the accelerated increase in the demand for telemedicine during this pandemic, with physician or hospital overload and safety concerns about the contagion aspect. The demand for connected health and digital health devices are out-pacing expectations. Consider the peripherals and hardware needed to connect with friends, family, business colleagues, caregivers and health professionals. This is here and expected to grow.
- Safer Shopping. This relates to the consumer journey and how people are shopping. It’s about home delivery and curbside pickup, contactless in-store shopping, and the shift to omnichannel distribution and eCommerce. What are you doing?
- Glocal Community. It’s the Community Angle. The lockdowns of the pandemic and staying closer to home has brought communities closer, leading to an increase in appreciation and support for local businesses. The time is ripe for retailers to generate customer retention and loyalty. This could work to the benefit of the retailer if they leverage their assets, build more engaging customer experiences and deliver seamless, responsive customer service – as well as carrying merchandise relevant to these times and your targeted demographic.
- Gen Z’s Regeneration. In 2020, 41% of the world is under 25 – and it represents the future. In many ways, it’s likely that this generation will be most transformed by the pandemic. It has solidified Gen Z’s support of causes and the social good, like favoring eco-friendly products that reduce their environmental impact. For retailers this might translate into eco-friendly products that are identified with certain organizations, community or celebrity ‘give-back,’ or charity.
More than ever, the ‘new norm’ is bringing with it a new pragmatism in the consumer’s shopping journey – whether it’s a purchase for themselves, family or friends – even for the holiday season. How can a product improve the quality of life – whether for fun or wellness.