Are Health and Wellness the New Selling Gimmick?

Consumerization of health means that more consumers will be inclined to choose products with embedded health benefits.

Our lives have taken a change. Honestly, I don’t know whether it is for the better. With the convenience of machines, physical activity seems to be slowly coming to a standstill. There was a time when I used to walk to school – a good 4 kilometres; catch the Gen Y walking even 1 kilometre! Walking 3 flights of stairs is difficult when you have the elevator.

We have to now make do with specially created spaces like gyms etc. to undertake physical activity. No wonder there is a mushrooming of gyms and similar centres across the world. Good health was always important to the end consumer but more so now with an increased awareness of the repercussions of poor health.

Media has played its part. There are large numbers of programs across all media channels. Online media have only served to propagate this further. Regular and dedicated medical social networks give audiences a platform to share, compare and discuss their health issues with other consumers.

Last but not least, the ‘consumerization of health means that more consumers will be inclined to choose products with embedded health benefits.

Marketers have capitalized on this across the spectrum and more often than not, released products with a health tag – for good or bad. Some are needed and some of not but I guess that is why we have always had good marketers and bad ones!

In a sense, the consumers are lethargic and are looking for easier options without exerting themselves much. Naturally, growing numbers of consumers will expect health products and services to help them improve their quality of life. If a machine can do it why should it?

Let’s explore this further.

  • Sanitary ware – The not so glamorous sanitary ware are coated with a unique glaze. A distinct substance that is fused into the glaze has the capability of entering bacteria cells and subsequently destroying the metabolism. This means that the glaze has a unique nature of inhibiting bacterial growth. Even the toilet covers are infused with anti-bacterial agents so that when you sit…..
  • Automobiles – In the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, even car manufacturers want you to be healthy. Ford announced a collaboration with Microsoft, Healthrageous, and BlueMetal Architects to bring health monitoring into cars and showed off a prototype of a future health system. The system will be able to capture biometric data from devices such as pacemakers and glucose monitors, and will also be able to accept voice input from the driver.
  • Electronics – Moving away from the direct functional benefits, some electronics majors have introduced a health-oriented line which are products tweaked towards a healthy connection.
  • Refrigerators – Cutting the jargon, from its collection, LG has a product that features Green Ion door cooling technology which has an Ion Coated Filter that can filter air combined with ions to prevent mould, micro bacteria and unpleasant odours, so the food can stay fresh up to 2.5 times longer. Among other features, some of the refrigerators have an Anti-Bacterial Gasket which simply is a tight gasket that keeps microbes away.
  • Microwaves – Enough has been spoken about the healthy aspects of microwave cooking from the usage of lesser amounts of fats to the killing of microbes.
  • Washing machines – The latest ‘healthy’ product is the steam washing machine. Whirlpool & LG among others has introduced this. According to LG, steam is used to sanitize fabrics of such things as dust mites and pet dander. It can do this because the high temperatures of the steam break up allergens effectively.
  • Mobile services – Apart from the convenience aspects mobile service providers like Vodafone and Aircel have health-related services. Both have crisis lines. Vodafone offers health tips to its subscribers on a paid basis. Health services will encapsulate personalised health tips, pregnancy, childcare, respiratory, heart, diabetes and general health and fitness tips for men and women.
  • Mobile service providers have tied up with hospitals to offer services over the phone and personalised home services.
  • Lighting – Lighting companies have taken the healthy route too. Canlyte ( A Philips Company) and Verilux provide healthy lighting. Canlyte claims to have positive psychological and physiological effects; improve productivity; recuperation and comfort; reduce eyestrain and headaches and improve human energy levels through improved, customized technologies and innovative solutions.
  • Gaming – Both Microsoft and Sony have recently released motion-sensing game controllers: the X-Box Kinect and PlayStation Move. The systems use cameras (and a controller for the Move) to detect users’ movements during gameplay. The controllers were designed not only to heighten the gaming experience but also, much like the Nintendo Wii, to add a physical and healthy dimension to it, with games like EA Sports Active 2 and Get Fit with Mel B.
  • App stores -There were nearly 17,000 health apps available in major app stores in November 2010, with 57% of them being aimed at consumers rather than health care professionals. (Source: Research2Guidance, November 2010)

I have not touched on the most obvious categories like Food & Beverages, Footwear and Clothing which are to me, the most obvious areas which health will touch first.

Many brands/ companies like to ride the way of a trend. The health-oriented products have had mixed results. But increased consumerization of health and wellness will have different categories riding on the wave because (using the cliché) health is wealth!

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