Today, with the rise of social media, mobile devices, digital-wireless connectivity, as well as other emerging technologies, our culture is changing more than ever before. And consumers are changing right along with it. Look no further than the emerging trend of the “self-service consumer.”
Increasingly, consumers are developing a do-it-myself mantra: trading stocks online, self check-out at the grocery store, self check-in at airports and ATM banking, to name a few. And understanding how to communicate and engage with this self-service consumer is crucial for the healthcare and wellness industry.
This emerging empowered self-service consumer is also transforming the healthcare industry, as consumers utilize self-service technology to expand their healthcare access, knowledge and empower them to put healthcare in their own hands.
The industry needs to take note of this trend. It’s not a fad; it’s here to stay. The current healthcare environment—culturally, politically and socially—is ready for self-service consumer healthcare.
I see this trend as highly important in the health and wellness market. In fact, our entire business model revolves around the self-service consumer. We believe in the simple philosophy: Education + Awareness = Action.
Think about the huge advances in retail healthcare innovation—like clinics and optical centers located inside mass merchandisers. And I’m sure you’ve all checked your blood pressure at the pharmacy before, yes? All around are offerings that deliver convenience while empowering and educating consumers.
Data from certain kiosks, which includes metro Atlanta samples, revealed some interesting information about today’s consumer. Overall, it supported the theory that awareness and education leads to action. Once aware of a potential eyesight problem, behavior patterns changed. How? Eyecare related coupons were accessed, additional information and follow-up data was consumed, and many followed through on doctor recommendations to visit an eyecare professional. The awareness and knowledge led to action.
Data also shows that retail is a huge portal for consumer healthcare. Despite the rise of the Internet, people still go to brick-n-mortar stores. According to Food Marketing Institute’s October 2010 data, consumers frequent a retail outlet—like a drugstore or grocery store—twice a week on a regular basis. According to the National Community Pharmacists Association, the average consumer lives within five miles of a drugstore. And numerous surveys show consumer traffic remains high at drug stores and major shopping stores nationwide.
Consumers are at retail on a very regular basis, but what is your healthcare brand or product doing to reach and engage with them? And what about after they leave? How do you continue that relationship through platforms like email, digital, mobile, and emerging technologies where you know they interact? And do these tactics encourage the “self-service” desire?
Communications to consumers about healthcare issues should be a balance between brand marketing and relationship-informational communications. Yes, consumers want to know how your product can help them, but they also want you to provide them with content that is informative and engaging.
Think about touch points where consumers interact with health and wellness: retail/drug stores, online, social networks, email, mobile and other emerging technologies. Healthcare brands and companies should think about every platform for reaching consumers. The time is now to embrace and engage today’s self-service consumer.
Four Key Takeaways on Today’s Self-Service Consumer