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SEA Insights

Opportunities in the age of digital health

Graeme Jacombs

Managing Director - APAC, Middle East & Africa

Health 13.02.2017 / 06:00

Wearable wrist watch

How can brands leverage the region's growing interest in fitness?

We live in a connected society: one where innovation in devices and processes connects people with data about themselves and each other.

We can expect around 50 billion connected devices by 2020, of which 212 billion will contain sensors capable of collecting personal data. There is now an influx of affordable, non-intrusive technology, making it easier to collect a variety of health-related data – physical activity levels, sleeping patterns, food intake, and other aspects of daily living. Down to the numbers, such data can help to inform our decisions, motivate our actions, and empower us to make changes in our lifestyles.

It’s not just our own lives we quantify. We can digitally quantify our babies and their sleeping patterns, weight, eating habits, or state of their nappies. We can digitally monitor our pets and track their activity patterns and locations.

It is now also possible to track our lives and those of our families from gestation to geriatrics, from womb to tomb. We have unprecedented levels of data available to us about how we live our lives.

And you’d be incorrect if you think these trends are solely a western phenomenon. Connected Life 2016 shows a strong uptake of fitness bands in Asia, driven by Greater China and Singapore. Smartwatches are also experiencing upward growth in these Asian countries, alongside growth potential markets Malaysia and South Korea.

Appealing to consumers through relevance

Are consumers collecting data about themselves willing to share it? According to a 2016 survey from TNS, 47% of all consumers surveyed and 68% of those who are active are comfortable sharing their exercise and food intake details with their insurance companies. This shows that consumers are not averse to sharing personal data, and are also especially open when they see sharing their data is relevant and potentially beneficial to them.

Wearable fitness trackers – such as the Fitbit – tend to get most of the attention because they are widespread and appeal to a more general population. But mobile health (or mHealth) includes so much more. There are web-connected glucose meters, body mass index (BMI) scales, blood pressure monitors, and smart asthma inhalers – all providing important and highly personal information.

Kantar Health’s mobile app allows us to conduct short surveys, collate video content, and integrate biometrics from the user’s wearable devices, giving us much richer insights into the lives of patients.

But while opportunities are present, one question remains: how can brands play a role in helping consumers take advantage of this unprecedented level of self-scrutiny?

South Korean brand Waywearable, Inc. created a crowd-funded portable skincare device called WAYSKIN that allows consumers to monitor the condition, health and hydration of their skin 24 hours a day. Can skincare brands draw inspiration from this to provide relevant and highly customised product advice to customers exactly when they need it?

Digitally-connected toothbrushes allow parents to monitor how well they and their children are brushing their teeth. Brands can tap on this opportunity to educate their customers about good oral health, the value of flossing, and a need to change their toothbrushes regularly – while enhancing the image of the brand as one that supports parents and helps to keep children healthy.

HapiFork, a web-connected eating utensil, provides feedback on how quickly one is eating and portion sizes to help with weight loss. This presents an opportunity for a food brand to build its image as a brand that supports healthy eating and living.

Brands can also choose to align with a good cause and contribute to society in more meaningful ways. Using deep touch pressure technology that acts as a calming agent, Singapore-based start-up T.WARE introduced a hug jacket to help ease anxiety amongst children with special needs or sensory issues. 


Manulife’s good MOVE in a challenging demographic

The white spaces are found in identifying the convergence between the technological advancement, the emerging trends in a brand category, and consumers’ increasing interest in themselves and their health. Because this data is so personal, it creates opportunities for brands to connect with consumers even in low-involvement categories.

One example is insurance. As younger consumers are the most challenging demographic group for insurance brands, Manulife saw the benefits of appealing to the generation in a way that creates meaning for them. It launched ManulifeMOVE in 2015, a plan that rewards members with discounted premiums when they are physically active. Through a mobile app and fitness trackers, members can track their activity progress against set goals and also receive tips on leading healthier lifestyles.

ManulifeMOVE’s campaign in Hong Kong achieved substantial engagement on social media, improved its brand equity, and enjoyed strong registration rates. In particular, they connected with and enrolled consumers under the age of 35. After initial success, the ManulifeMOVE plan is now available to consumers in the Philippines.

Watch the ManulifeMOVE Philippines campaign ad here:

Health technology provides opportunities for brands to connect with consumers at important moments of their lives. Despite privacy concerns, consumers will not be averse to sharing their highly personal health data if they can see the benefit and relevance of sharing it.

The challenge for brands is to the ability to think differently, to help consumers extract value from their data, and to empower them to act differently – this will then build healthy brands and healthy consumers.



Source : Kantar Health

Editor's Notes

For more insights on health technology or to speak to Graeme, please contact us here.

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