Health Brands Look to Create Differentiation + Connect to Consumers

This article is part of ParkerWhite's weekly series, "Health and Wellness This Week,” a roundup of the latest healthcare marketing news and what it means for your marketing strategy.

Health Brands Want to Break Away from the Competition

In crowded health and wellness markets, manufacturers look to create differentiation and connect with consumers in meaningful ways to distinguish themselves from the competition. With digital marketing, health brands find opportunities to mine data for continuous improvement - with a focus on superior consumer experiences.

The Growth and Evolution of the Sports Drink Market and What's To Come

BevIndustry reports the latest insights for the sports drink market. According to Elizabeth Sisel, a beverage analyst from Mintel, the sports drink category grew 30 percent from $5.4 billion to nearly $7 billion between 2008 and 2013. Growth is credited to advertising and new product lines from brands.

"Sports drinks face increasing competition from other beverage categories offering consumers increasingly comparable functionality,” Sisel says. "Functional claims are expanding across food and drink categories as brands seek to differentiate themselves from the competition and consumers seek added value for their shopping dollars.” "Look for many more variations in flavor, claims, packaging and messaging as ways for brands in this category to grow.

”Big players include Coca-Cola's Gatorade, PepsiCo's Powerade, and Kraft's new Mio Fit liquid water enhancer. Protein drinks are also gaining popularity, fueled by growth into mainstream retailers and an increased focus on lifestyle and functional nutrition branding. Milk producers are entering the protein drink space with their own offerings. The article suggests beverage-makers may find opportunity in protein innovation, with different forms of protein than soy or dairy, possibly plant proteins like pea or hemp.

Marketing Strategy Insight: There is a focus on health and convenience without sacrificing taste. Consumers are looking to sports drinks and protein drinks to enhance their active, healthy lifestyles.  With intense competition, manufacturers will need to focus on differentiating their brands with a unique selling proposition and effective messaging. Packaging needs to make an impact on consumers in the retail environment.

Low-Risk Medical Devices Could Be Headed To Costco

In an article for MD+DI, Martin Reidi, director of market insight at Phonak, a manufacturer of hearing aids for children and adults, speaks about the potential opportunity for low-risk medical devices. He suggests manufacturers of these devices could reap the benefits of selling through a warehouse distribution channel like Costco or Sam's Club. For years, glasses and hearing aids have been sold at Costco, where they have optometrists and audiologists on hand. Selling these types of devices in mainstream channels could bring increased consumer access. For manufacturers, this could create additional brand touch points with more chances to connect to their target audiences. However, Reidi points out that success hinges on the healthcare industry's ability to leverage multichannel marketing to attract new customers through new channels.These companies will have to focus on creating a marketing mix that cultivates relationships - or else they'll be viewed as a commodity.

Marketing Strategy Insight: The opportunity to sell low-risk devices through mainstream channels is another sign of growing healthcare consumerism. With new channels of distribution, companies need to understand the nuances of these channels and understand how they impact the purchase experience. With the ACA forcing companies to pay more attention to patients, these chances for additional brand touch points equate to more opportunities to make meaningful connections with consumers. Ultimately, medical device manufacturers need to go beyond a transaction to provide a complete brand experience. Manufacturers must focus on building a brand at every touch point. Without a brand, these products become nothing more than features and benefits and are reduced to commoditization. Commoditized products can only compete on price - potentially resulting in unsustainable price wars. Companies can break out of commoditization when they bring their brand to life.

Cleveland Clinic Takes Continuous Improvement Approach to Mobile Apps

Becker's Hospital Review published an article about the Cleveland Clinic's mobile app development process. Tony Crimaldi, Cleveland Clinic's digital marketing manager who also manages their Mobile Center of Excellence, sees lots of mobile app ideas from the 43,000 employees at Cleveland Clinic. It's his job to ensure only the best ideas make it from vision to reality. But the Mobile Center of Excellence is not just for getting apps from ideation to launch. Post-launch, they analyze user data for app improvements and updates to the user experience. "Never consider a project finished," Crimaldi says. "Look at as many analytics as you can and take advantage of user testing."

Marketing Strategy Insight: Large organizations like the Cleveland Clinic are paving the way for better digital patient engagement. This is a reminder of how important analytics are for launching and maintaining successful initiatives. This isn't limited to mobile app development. With most digital marketing programs it is possible to collect data-driven insights for continuous improvement.

Health Brands Look to Create Differentiation + Connect - PW