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Integrating Digital Health and Marketing Functional Foods

This article is part of ParkerWhite's weekly series, "Healthy Brand Buzz," a roundup of the latest healthcare marketing news and what it means for your marketing strategy.

  • Philips and join forces for digital health
  • MM&M Health Tech Jam: reaching consumers through multichannel, integrated marketing
  • Report finds functional foods can't be marketed on health benefit alone

Philips and to Launch Digital Health Platform

The Dutch electronics company Philips and announced a strategic partnership with intentions to build a digital health platform in the cloud. Their first step will be the launch of a Philips eCare Coordinator app for providers and accompanying Philips eCare Companion app for patients, to facilitate monitoring and measurement of health. "We think that in the future patient relationship management in real-time will be at the center of delivering healthcare. And that is going to be supported by our joint envisioned platform, a platform that will allow caregivers to communicate and collaborate efficiently and effectively and to deliver healthcare at a lower cost, said Philips CEO, Jeroen Tas.

Marketing Strategy Insight

This is another sign of the growing importance of digital in the healthcare continuum, and the impetus to foster better patient engagement. It also follows the trend of companies looking to make strategic alliances. In this case, the strategic alliance involves a company outside of the healthcare industry. It's a good idea to look outside of the healthcare industry for partnerships and also as a source of inspiration. The healthcare industry is currently struggling to come up to speed with many things other industries already do, including adoption of digital technologies, attention to the consumer, and corporate transparency.

MM&M Health Tech Jam

A virtual event from Medical Marketing and Media (MM&M) featured speakers such as Sara Holoubek from Luminary Labs and Craig DeLarge from Merck & Co.

Sara Holoubek of Luminary Labs, on innovation:

  • "Some organizations are good at tactics, some are good at strategy, very few start with objectives"
  • Collaboration with legal and regulatory shouldn't be about planning to get away with as much as possible, but doing your best work while mitigating risk

Marilyn Cox of Oracle, on multichannel marketing:

  • Use multichannel marketing to gain visibility
  • Identify digital channels and influencers that extend your reach
  • Brands can leverage tweet chats to engage audiences and grow their social presence

Marketo Bootcamp, on marketing automation:

  • Personalized marketing
  • Doing more with less
  • Truly integrated marketing

Craig DeLarge, of Merck & Co., on CRM:

  • There's a real missed opportunity around pull vs. push provision of content, particularly social customer service
  • Industry has spent more time from a perspective of what we can't do than what we can do and how we can provide a service and be a resource
  • Without integrated analytics, we are blind organizations

Marketing Strategy Insight

I love that Sara mentioned this orientation toward innovation that requires both strategy and tactics, but emphasizes how important it is to start with objectives. Today, more than ever, healthcare companies are pressed to spend wisely and justify value. I think every CMO or VP of Marketing wants to get the highest ROI out of any project, but going after ROI isn't quite the same as starting with objectives to drive both strategy and tactics.

When it comes to multichannel digital marketing, companies who focus on having a strong, unified brand will get the most out of their efforts. Everyone may want to have an integrated campaign, but it's not enough to just reach people at multiple touch points with similar content. Think of branding as building with bricks– when you focus on brand, you get to build on top of each effort, getting higher and higher. Without the brand, you're starting over each time you execute a different marketing campaign. Getting integrated multichannel marketing campaigns off the ground will require cross-functional collaboration, cultural shifts, and scalable efforts.

Marketing Functional Foods

A recent report from New Nutrition Business finds that marketing functional foods primarily on a health benefit struggle to succeed in the market. "Surprisingly often, companies make the health benefit the sole point of difference for the product, undervaluing key factors such as convenience," explained Julian Mellentin, director of New Nutrition Business. "When a product is essentially a me-too, with a health benefit attached, it's inviting failure."Other reasons for failure cited include:

  • Overestimating the potential market
  • Targeting the mass market too early, instead of starting in a niche and growing from there
  • A perceived mismatch between the product and the benefit (such as fish oil in yogurt)

Marketing Strategy Insight

It's not enough for products to just be "healthy" anymore. As the market shifts toward healthier foods as a whole, what used to be a point of differentiation for many brands will soon become a point of parity.

This highlights the huge importance of identifying your unique value proposition and being able to communicate it clearly and effectively. Companies also need to understand where they are in the competitive landscape in order to understand how to effectively create differentiation. This is why it's so important to stay on top of overall shifts in the marketplace, which we've seen influenced by changing consumer preferences, legislative action, the rising rate of obesity and heart disease, and a greater focus on food's environmental impact.

Integrating Digital Health and Marketing Functional Food - PW