The holiday season is a time for friends and family to come together – to celebrate, to eat, and to share experiences and memories. The special tradition of exchanging gifts during the holiday season is appreciated in new ways after the isolation and separateness of the pandemic – and it has brought fresh interest in wellness, fitness, and health from the convenience of one’s home. It is also intersecting with transformative shifts in care from reactive and episodic incidents to preventive and proactive care.
Healthcare is currently an $11 trillion market worldwide — and it is still growing quickly, according to CB Insights. The first steps of the industry’s digital transformation have been taken with modern technologies and models of care are being built every day and tech giants clamoring to lead the way.
Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Oracle are all deeply involved in new healthcare-related product development, investments, M&A, and partnerships. Each company is leveraging their software development proficiency, device and wearable leadership, and cloud computing expertise, to grow market share.
With healthcare providers and patients more willing than ever to adopt new technologies and explore new models for care, CB Insights expects the healthcare space to remain a strategic focus for big tech for years to come– and that translates into opportunities for the channel as well as the device and healthtech supply chain.
Digital wellness and managing health for a fuller quality of life is also about empowering self-care with products that range from wearables designed for tracking or remote monitoring, improving the wearer’s sleep, telehealth, AR/VR, AI-driven devices, and even food preparation. Today, vendors and channels need to think ‘out-of-the-box’ for greater revenue growth.
This is a pivotal year for digital health companies as customers look for technologies that deliver convenient and seamless health, fitness, and care journeys. 2023 is demonstrating that innovative technology products are changing what can be done at home and the kind of health data and analytics that can be generated. A key finding of a recent CTA study, ‘Driving Consumer Adoption of Digital Health Solutions’ was that 70 percent of the consumer respondents say they’ll likely use one or more digital health solutions in the future to improve their overall health or well-being.
Health tech company stakeholders are optimistic about the outlook for digital health, according to this recent CTA study.
Channels need to look beyond existing customers and expand into new market segments. What are the local or regional demographics? Does it point to an aging population? Are there underserved populations in the community where technology-based health solutions could make an impact?
Shifting Dynamics: Retailers Are Moving into Health
When planning the inventory product schedule of the upcoming holiday season, channels need to stay up-to-speed and respond to rapid changes in the health and care marketplace. The opportunities for healthtech and related products are no longer limited to a closed hospital system. Non-traditional providers of primary care services are streamlining and disrupting care access and delivery. “Retailers are well-positioned to disrupt the healthcare landscape and compete with health systems and physician practices for a piece of the medical pie,” according to a Definitive Healthcare report.
Retail clinics have seen a 200 percent increase over the past five years, notes Definitive Healthcare. Retailers such as Walmart, CVS, and others are shifting from just being product suppliers to also offering prescription and primary care services.
While free COVID tests and vaccinations have ended, retailers are expecting to branch out to offer a wider range of services and relevant products, ranging from chronic disease management and primary care to mental health and wellness programs, per the Definitive Health report. This implies that a wider range of products will also be entering the marketplace.
Recently, Best Buy announced a multi-year partnership with Atrium Health that combines Atrium’s hospital-at-home program and existing telemedicine infrastructure with Best Buy’s at-home care business, along with the retailer’s home installation and supply chain capabilities.
These new primary care models could grow to become about a third of the market by 2030, estimates Bain & Company. This shift is driven by rising costs and demand for more convenient care. For retailers, it is about brand enhancement, and it also enables them to diversify and rely less on traditional retail sales. Now is the time for vendors and supply chain to collaborate with these emerging opportunities to become their supplier of choice.
As we look towards the holiday season, a key trend is the huge push to leverage the latest technology to move care into the home. Changes in consumer behavior and habits are appearing now with the pandemic in the rearview mirror. Gifting people small indulgences and comfort is a way to show them that you care.
The connected home is becoming the front door to digital health and continues to present a huge upside potential for vendors, omnichannel distribution channels, resellers and those looking at not only B2C but also B2B opportunities locally, regionally, and even across the country and globe.
Four Perspectives on Opportunities for the Holiday Season
As channels consider new revenue opportunities, several digital health trends in the home are emerging.
People are creating dedicated home wellness spaces – on a limited or unlimited budget. For some it might be home renovations that include spas, saunas, and home gyms. It is also about creating peace of mind that might also include pleasant scents and sounds.
Similarly, the bathroom is increasingly a wellness target and, while it may seem odd in relationship to the holiday season – there’s a slew of smart toilets capable of identifying issues early and making life more comfortable. Present at CES 2023, there were a quartet of companies displaying toilet seats and/or toilet products able to test one’s urine for many easy-to-identify maladies. This included Vivoo, which is building a toilet-mounted hardware with reaction-paper urine stick; Yellosis, a graduate of Samsung’s startup incubator; and Olive, hardware that sits under your toilet seat and a bank of LEDs flashing toward rear-mounted photodiodes.
However, the most talked-about gadget was Withings’ U-Scan, a device that sits on the dry part of your toilet bowl and samples some of your urine. Once that fluid is captured inside the device, a sample is run through a microfluidic cartridge (with reaction paper) and uses a reader to look at the result. Once completed, the results are sent to your phone, with suggestions on what you might do to improve your health. When it is released, U-Scan will offer a cartridge for menstrual cycle tracking, as well as one that monitors hydration and nutrition levels.
Another heavy focus is the kitchen, offering channels many opportunities as consumers focus on their wellness. Gourmia’s FoodStation, with its Grill and Air Fryer, allows home chefs to whip up their favorite healthy delights!
TECHNOLOGY-ENABLED HEALTH CARE AT HOME
Currently, 51 percent of U.S. households have at least one connected health device, according to Parks Associates. Consumer awareness about the shift towards care in the home is growing and a new buzz phrase is appearing – the ‘hospital-at-home.’ There is an explosion of boomers wanting to age in their homes, and those that want the access and convenience of in-home health on a 24/7 basis — much like we’ve come to expect based on our experiences with entertainment services like Netflix or eCommerce shopping.
Health care in the home is not a new concept, but the pandemic has amplified demand. Telehealth suddenly skyrocketed in importance and is now integrating into the greater health system rather than being a siloed specialty. Innovative technologies are helping providers (aka physicians, etc.) offer more virtual and remote services. Improved health outcomes are now a mainstay goal of any care model, but surging consumer and patient demand for at-home care is also driven by the 4 C’s: comfort, cost, convenient access, and continuity. Technology now enables the creation of a greater sense of normalcy for an individual and allows them to live their daily lives with minimum medical interruptions.
Moving forward, health care in the home will fall into different product segments. There are products with apps for wellness, preventive care and wanting to support a healthier lifestyle; managing chronic diseases like cardio, pain, or diabetes; and/or recovering from a surgery, injury, or lengthy illness in the more normal environment of home.
In addition, we’ll all be old someday and aging boomers are the fastest-growing demographic, both in the U.S. and globally. Ensuring preventive care for our loved ones as they age, as well as their quality of life and independent living, offers enormous opportunities for gift-giving at holiday time and year ‘round.
Technology can help a loved one stay safely in the comfort of their familiar surroundings while enjoying good health monitoring – and boomers are proving to be tech savvy, often with a little help from a grandchild!
Other Categories of Products for Wellness and Holiday Gifting!
Cardio and the first defibrillator made for the home. More than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur annually and according to the American Heart Association, almost 80 percent occur in homes/residences. The first four minutes after cardiac arrest are crucial for survival of the brain. Lifeaz recently introduced a compact, lightweight, transportable defibrillator that can be installed in the home, at work, or even carried in a backpack – and they are looking for distribution.
A good night’s sleep is essential to good health, and this can be more difficult with age or the onset of health conditions. A growing range of devices can help monitor sleep patterns and, if a problem is found, these devices can also help to achieve better sleep.
Personal sensors and the wearable technology categories are growing beyond smartwatches and fitness trackers to include clothing, smart glasses, and a variety of IoT-based sensors. They can track your sleep, heart rate, or even sound an alarm to help maintain a medication schedule – and while health apps are capable of enhancing self-care, they can also act as an early warning system with service providers, physicians or caregivers able to analyze the data remotely.
Medical-grade smart rings are gaining traction. Healthcare solutions company Movano, maker of the Evie Ring, might be the first consumer wearable that is also a medical device designed uniquely for women. If cleared by the FDA, Evie will provide female wearers with a full picture of their health, including resting heart rate, period and ovulation tracking, sleep stages, SpO2 levels, skin temperature variability, and more.
Another ring wearable company, Oura, is partnering with life insurance provider John Hancock to incentivize health habits such as sleep and mindfulness practices. Using Oura’s smart ring, John Hancock is strengthening its Vitality program – a behavior change platform that rewards customers for healthy behaviors, Vitality members can earn cost savings on their policy as well as exclusive perks.
The demand for assistive technologies is also growing at a fast pace for at least four interrelated reasons: an aging population, increases in the prevalence of disability, increases in the burden of chronic disease, and the corresponding increased load placed on caregivers. This is a growing opportunity for the retail channel.
Samsung Electronics is adding a specially adapted Relumino Mode to its new TVs for the visually impaired. When activated, the picture mode will highlight contours, lines, and colors, making the picture easier to interpret. For a person with normal vision, it may resemble a cartoon-like filter, but for a person with impaired vision, this may be exactly what is needed to decipher and understand the action.
L’Oréal also announced plans to release Hapta later this year. Hapta is a computerized makeup device with motion controls, that will help people with limited arm mobility apply lipstick.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
Immersive experiences such as virtual reality, augmented reality or mixed reality (MX) are being proven to have medical efficacy and are an effective tool to manage anxiety, depression, autism, and dementia. With Apple’s announcement in early June of Vision Pro, C4 Trends fully expects there will be a realignment in this industry sector – even if the MSRP for Vision Pro starts at $3,499, more than three times the cost of Meta’s priciest headset. Apple’s Vision Pro will be available in the U.S. early next year.
As a trendsetter, Apple has been the key catalyst for creating and taking categories mainstream. For instance, MP3s were around — but the iPod with iTunes popularized and transformed portable music, just as the iPhone disrupted the cellphone market.
On the health-related front, the virtual reality (VR) fitness industry is steadily booming—the global VR fitness game market was valued at $111 million in 2022, and it is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 39.8 percent from 2023 to 2029 according to an HTF Market Report. Virtual fitness is not only hopping on a Peloton bike or following a guided workout on an app—fitness can mean a workout on a VR headset rather than exercising via other workout formats.
The Power of Generative AI
We’re living in an age of constant innovation, from battling pandemics to dealing with chronic diseases, mental health issues, and a growing shortage of medical professionals—but Generative AI offers a beacon of hope. With a potential market opportunity worth a whopping $6 trillion (per Morgan Stanley), the potential impact of generative AI is more than just a passing fad. It’s an evolving suite of tools with the power to bring revolutionary changes to healthcare.
Within the context of personalized care, wearable devices and Generative AI can work together to offer personalized treatment options, and it can also support early diagnosis and prognosis assessment for a range of illnesses and conditions. The future of Generative AI is exciting, and its potential for revolutionizing progress within healthcare is undeniable. For channels it will offer lucrative opportunities as technology is embedded into a wide range of consumer-facing devices.
The holidays are coming, and the excitement is just starting to build! Aside from giving the typical gifts – give your customers a reason to offer a thoughtful alternative for gift-giving to a loved one. To stay ahead of the competition and maintain your market dominance, identifying and prioritizing market targets – whether based on economics, category or age – is crucial to developing new high-value opportunities.