These days, doing good is good business. Many of today’s largest and most successful businesses and brands are recognized more for the good they do and the causes they support than the actual products they make and sell.
No matter the category or story, all of these “do-good” brands provide:
Nowhere is this trend hotter than in the advertising industry, where much of the most celebrated work touts a higher purpose or calling. Remarkably, many of the brands recognized for their altruistic activities operate within mass consumer categories such as packaged goods, electronics, retail, and sporting goods.
On the other hand, healthcare brands (providers, hospitals, insurers, pharmaceuticals, etc.) seem blatantly absent from these do-good lists. How can a whole industry dedicated to improving people’s health and wellness fall short in comparison to a shoe or soft drink company when it comes to improving lives? The media is certainly partially to blame as much of the coverage of the healthcare industry focuses on either partisan influence on the system or the perceived waste and corruption in it.
While the political narrative in association with the healthcare industry certainly won’t disappear anytime soon, to rightfully claim a place in the “do-good” conversation, healthcare brands should borrow a few insights from the likes of Coke, Amazon, and Nike and implement several simple, yet powerful strategies to their product and marketing portfolios.
Coke made headlines for using talking vending machines to connect natives from rival countries and breakdown cultural differences. Given the plethora of providers, doctors, and technological innovation in the arena, healthcare brands should be able to provide customers convenient access to a larger network without the need for a complicated talking vending machine. Unfortunately, quite the opposite is what happens as the complex intricacies of the industry (privacy, regulation, scheduling, and waiting time) often prevent healthcare brands from giving customers the tools and resources they need for improved well-being. That being said, pharmacy companies like Rhode Island-based CVS and Illinois-based Walgreens are beginning to deliver more access, convenience, and immediate solutions to their consumers.
Tech giants like Amazon and Google have risen to great heights by creating products and user experiences that happen when, where, and how their consumers want them to. As these brands know, a personalized experience leads directly to long-term user loyalty and advocacy. In healthcare, while some brands like the Cleveland Clinic are inching towards personalization, most still operate under a one-size-fits-all umbrella approach to customer service and put little thought behind the user experience.
Innovative offerings like Nike+ and FuelBand have helped Nike transcend beyond an athletic apparel company to one that improves users’ lives through innovative technologies. While most healthcare brands won’t have the same deep pockets and R&D to create new technologies and communication platforms, they can up their game in terms of rewarding good health behavior. Gym reimbursements and discounts at athletic retailers certainly point in the right direction, but dressing the part only goes so far. Healthcare brands and users must also act the part. With the advent of wearable technology broadcasting “life data” as it happens, healthcare brands would be smart to create programs that reward and incentivize smart dieting and exercise in order to (stealing another line from Nike) “make it count” for their users.
Many of the most successful brands focus on solving the needs and improving the lives of their consumer. And many of these brands simply do it as part of a differentiation strategy. For healthcare brands, it is and should be their reason for being. The time has come for Healthcare brands to take their place at the “do-good” table.