How Consumer Behavior Will Shape Healthcare in 2018

Chicago, IL

Self-care and preventative health are becoming essential for consumers across demographics. This focus on health isn’t entirely new, but this huge movement towards self-care and preventative health is taking on a whole new meaning in 2018.

Every single year, we have a lot of concern and this year, the concerns consumer have are unique. According to Mintel, in July 2017, 28% of US consumers agreed that the election had a positive impact on the cost of health insurance.

WATCH: Mintel’s 2018 Consumer Trends for North America  

Consumers on both sides of the aisle are concerned about the state of things in general in the US. The percentage of consumers who think there is no point in worrying have gone down, so essentially consumers on both sides of the political aisle are worrying more. Beyond the political space, there is a general sense of uncertainty that is causing worry for people.

A lot of consumers are also becoming concerned about the cost of health insurance because of the uncertainty of that specifically. In Canada, they have their own set of worries, with only 40% of Canadians saying they have a positive outlook on the future of the country.

The uncertainty of the situation is causing an anxious populace to focus on holistic views of health to stay well, maintain a sense of balance, and ultimately avoid the unknown risk associated with healthcare costs. As we harness the power to look for antidotes on our phones and laptops for these worries; consumers are also turning to technology for inspiration and tips.

Google searches for the term “self-care” reached a five-year high after the US election. With all of the uncertainty, people want to know how they can take care of themselves better on an individual level.

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A lot of consumers are taking charge and taking proactive measures towards preventative health because they want to save money in some cases. They also want to feel better, so they are managing their health to maintain a sense of stability. Apps, videos, social media posts, fitness trackers, and smart devices are guiding consumers as they seek not just physical wellness, but also mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness.

Here’s how brands are responding:

With all of this there has been a focus on mental health — so consumers and companies see that mental health is an important part of the holistic equation of health. Walgreens for example, recently expanded its mental health platform to reach broader demographics and made access to care more affordable. You may have also seen recently that Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan teamed up to form an independent health care company for their employees in the US. 

Bell, a telecommunications company in Canada, every year does a “Let’s Talk Day” which is an initiative meant to promote public discussions around mental health. In 2017, it reached a huge record number of interactions with Justin Trudeau tweeting about it.

There is also a focus on mindfulness, with 59% of US adults saying they currently use or are interested in using mindfulness techniques. In fact, Headspace, an app that provides guided and unguided meditations, was ranked by Fast Company as the number one most innovative company in fitness in 2017.

Sleep and relaxation also plays into this, as consumers claim they are sleeping less because of technology. To that end, companies like David Lloyd fitness centers are offering “Napercise” classes, which are designed to reinvigorate the mind, the body, and even burn calories.

With feel-good food and drink, there is a focus as well on how food and beverages cannot only make us feel good in terms of eating healthy, but how food and drink be more functional to make us feel better. Many consumers agree that what they eat impacts their emotional wellbeing.

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With this focus on total holistic health when it comes to self-care, there is a lot of opportunity for brands, not just in the health and wellness space, but really in all categories. Emerging concerns that affect various groups will require more personalized pathways to health.

The opportunity is ripe for brands in any sector to develop their support roles for the growing number of consumers seeking to better themselves and get ahead of health concerns.

All around the world we have an aging population and as we look forward, we’ll begin to see more approaches to innovative care to extend independence longer. Innovations in smart pill bottle caps are now in market, which remind users to take their medicines or vitamins.

Pharma companies have twin mandates today: build products that ‘connect’ with patients and meet ever-stricter government regulations for accuracy of materials and processes. These imperatives — brand-building and information accuracy — are not contradictory or mutually exclusive. Schawk helps you deliver both.

There is also opportunity to cater to the iGeneration, who have grown up completely in a lifetime of screens. While the affects of this amount of screen time is untold, we do know that this generation is physically safer — they’re going out less and drinking less, and driving less. However, researchers are seeing more mental issues than ever before, with loneliness as a huge factor in developing depression in the age group.

For brands across the board, it is important to acknowledge and cater to the many needs and demographics along the spectrum of reasons for self-care. Brands who step into the conversation as an expert will foster trust by opening a dialogue around how a product or service impacts consumers’ health — whether negatively or positively.

Successful brands in 2018 will partner with likeminded brands to develop functional products in food, drink, personal care, and beyond — introducing smart devices, apps, and digital tools.