Connecting with Today’s Empowered Consumer

Technology is rapidly changing human behavior. With the rise of digital, social media, mobile devices and 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 today’s “empowered” consumer.

New technologies are enabling consumers to take a direct and engaged approach to their healthcare and wellness. According to the Pew Research Center, more than 80% of consumers use the Internet for healthcare related information. And social networks give consumers a platform for real-time, two-way communication. No more playing the waiting game, consumers are actively reaching out and engaging about their health. PwC’s recent survey found that 32% use social media outlets to connect with health organizations or with other people with similar health-care interests. And that number is rising daily.

Healthcare businesses need to take note of this trend. It’s not a fad; it’s here to stay. Consumers are becoming empowered through technological advances. To succeed, healthcare companies need to learn to embrace and engage today’s empowered consumer.

Perhaps no other vertical, sans financial services, benefits more from the empowerment of consumers. Once aware and empowered, consumers become intensely personal about their healthcare and ongoing knowledge. Smart healthcare marketers can benefit greatly if they know how to leverage and engage with them.

At SoloHealth, our relationship with consumers starts with our retail kiosks, but it continues across numerous consumer touch points. We’ve coined the term “Point of Interaction” – POI – to address the number of consumer touch points we reach: in-store, Internet, mobile, social, digital signage and emerging platforms. To create a strong consumer relationship, one that fuels the “empowered consumer,” you must reach them and engage where they are and empower them with information that is valuable.

Data from our kiosks reveal some interesting things about today’s consumer. Overall, it supports the theory that awareness and education leads to action. Once aware of potential healthcare issues behavior patterns changed. How? Consumers continued through the kiosk screens for additional information and follow up care regarding their particular healthcare problem.

We also recognized that retail is still a huge portal for consumer healthcare. Despite the rise of the Internet, people still go to bricks-n-mortar stores. Consumers frequent a retail outlet—like a drugstore or grocery store—twice a monthly on a regular, reoccurring basis. And the average consumer lives within 5 miles of a drugstore.

Mobile usage, led by smartphone growth, is growing literally daily. IDC recently revealed that 59% of all cellphone owners possess a smartphone as opposed to a basic mobile device, with that percentage expected to rise sharply over the next five years as smartphones continue to replace traditional handhelds. By 2015, the IDC estimates smartphone shipments will exceed 982 million, up from 475 million in 2011. Facebook reported last month that more users access the network via mobile than desktop/laptops.

Reaching and engaging with today’s empowered consumer—and all their touch points—can be incredibly rewarding for healthcare organizations. But it requires a brand to first examine its business goals and all its consumer touch points. Are your goals aligned with your channels? Are you maximizing and approaching each differently? What’s your mobile strategy? Are you providing consumers value at every touch point?

Healthcare organizations must embrace new technologies and consumers’ numerous touch points to succeed. The opportunities are tremendous for consumers, businesses and the entire healthcare landscape. Don’t be the proverbial “dinosaur”; embrace and empower today’s consumer.

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