With a heightened focus on health & wellbeing during the pandemic, we've been thinking of ways for brands in the healthcare space to better connect with their audiences. And not to forget the imminent launch of Amazon Pharmacy, and its potential future moves into wider healthcare services.
Over lockdown, we spent time considering the brands that supported us through those challenging months. The term ‘health is wealth’ has never been more applicable - with greater importance placed on wellbeing, health-conscious consumers have been turning to pharmacy and healthcare brands to provide them with the products and services they need in order to feel physically and mentally prepared for anything the pandemic throws at them.
But whilst health and wellness have arguably never been a higher priority, the sector still has its challenges - from commoditised products to disruption from digital innovators and a generally lack-lustre customer experience. And not forgetting the looming launch of Amazon Pharmacy later this year, and its potential future moves into wider healthcare services. We’ve been thinking of some solutions to these issues and what pharmacy and healthcare brands should be doing in order to reframe the customer experience and bring their brands in line with the new demands and expectations of the COVID-era consumer to connect on a more meaningful level.
The healthcare category is filled with commoditised products, each with a heavy focus on features and often less explanation around benefits and supporting the achievement of long-term goals. With a lack of differentiation and choice overload, it’s hard for consumers to pick out the offer best suited to them or to forge any sort of brand loyalty.
We think brands should reframe their offer with an emphasis on lifestyle potential. It’s about what the customer can learn or accomplish with the product or service and how it can fit into their wider world – Vitality is a great example of a healthcare brand doing this very well and positioning themselves as a wellness influence in their customers' lives, building more of an ecosystem for their audiences. Brands should make sure they are communicating with their audience in an honest and open way for maximum benefit - jargon-heavy language and a formal tone of voice should be things of the past when it comes to accessible and easy-to-understand healthcare. And there’s potential for brands to encourage even longer engagement by supporting customers as a lifelong partner. Oral-B has done a great job of laying the foundations for brand loyalty early on with their Fun Zone app making tooth care fun and rewarding for kids, and an accompanying data-driven adult app allowing for trackable progress throughout the user’s life.
Brands in the healthcare and wellness space will inspire and excite audiences by focussing less on features and more on bringing lifestyle benefits into the commercial narrative. How can you talk to and support your customers more effectively in order to become irreplaceable in their lives?
The past few years have seen disruption in the healthcare sector, with many online-only providers such as Babylon entering the market and challenging the more traditional players. But those who have still not fully embraced digital transformation may need to rethink, sharpish.
The pandemic has accelerated shifts in consumer behaviour, with increased digital activity being one of the most noticeable upward trends. With social distancing and concern for health and hygiene in physical spaces, it’s no wonder customers are turning to contactless alternatives such as live chatting with a healthcare professional from the safety of their own homes - and brands need to pivot to become part of this trend instead of fighting against it.
The digitised experience of tech-health platforms is becoming more and more appealing - it’s convenient, on-demand, pre-emptive and rewarding, with design-led platforms allowing for a seamless customer experience. In contrast, the current in-store prescription process requires a much-needed update, while understanding regulatory requirements. Apps like DIMEC allow the consumer to insert their prescription needs on their mobile. More pharmacies should consider this idea, allowing customers to tap their phones onto an NFC enabled pad on arrival to fast-track the prescription pickup process. Our prescription solution for Boots involved a self-service collection machine that holds up to 162 prescriptions, with digital screens for customers to enter their details and avoid the queue at the tills.
Simple but fundamental changes like this could shorten that wait time and make for a more seamless experience - something all healthcare brands should take inspiration from if they want to thrive in this digitally-led era.
More often than not, when interacting with a pharmacy or healthcare brand there is either a level of distress or monotony. Whether it’s pre-appointment anxiety, aches and pains, or waiting room boredom, patients are usually dealing with problems - which can in turn taint the experience for them. How can brands flip this round in order to elevate the customer experience and increase overall satisfaction?
The answer is to try and promote positive, proactive connection and move away from negative, reactionary engagement. Brands should consider how they can encourage healthy habits to prevent distress missions from happening in the first place - the NHS-backed Couch to 5K initiative is a great example of supportive engagement with an audience to help encourage self-improvement in an achievable and enjoyable way. Processes could be innovated in order to serve customers how they want to be served - for instance, subscription models are a great way to allow flexibility and will ultimately help to maintain healthy consumer choices. Brands could also consider injecting more fun into the customer experience, particularly when targeting families - data and insights could be utilised to gamify healthcare routines and celebrate milestones.
This all comes back to re-establishing your brand as a lifelong health partner - one that puts the customer experience at the forefront, embraces innovation, and is there every step of the way to support, encourage and strengthen.
The level of opportunity across this category is huge right now. We believe that by rebalancing the customer experience and engaging on a deeper level, brands will be able to create new, meaningful brand engagement that will ensure lasting success during and post-pandemic.
For more information on how we can help you reframe your brand experience, please get in touch.
Illustration: Sarah Butler