Brands that are not directly health-related are becoming health relevant. This is because the world now expects more from a brand than just products; people want to see a sense of purpose, of corporate responsibility and global citizenship. And where better to make a real difference than in health? The one thing you can be sure absolutely everybody cares about.
Ford is developing a car seat with embedded monitors that can tell if you are having a heart attack. If you are, it will notify you and the emergency services at the same time. Dyson, famous for reinventing vacuum cleaners and fans, has now re-imagined the neonatal clinic. The Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care has an organic, ergonomic shape that delivers light, space and positive outcomes: staff and parents spend more time with the babies, babies sleep 20% longer and many more of them are breastfed than in a traditional clinic. The building is proving, as Dyson said in a recent interview, “to be a treatment in itself.”
Meanwhile, Alfa Bank in Russia is proving that health really is the new wealth with their Activity program. Once you join, a portion of your savings is transferred into a higher interest account whenever your Fitbit or Nike Fuelband registers that you did some exercise. Good for their customers, but also good for the bank.
Unilever grew soap sales in Asia by doing good in the fight against cholera. Working with Unicef, Oxfam and Save the Children, it is saving thousands of lives with an advertising campaign that educates people about washing hands after going to the toilet. Charity wasn't needed, as people already bought soap; they just needed to be taught about the importance of regular hand washing.
These examples are interesting because, although they are not health brands, they are making a difference to healthcare. These brands looked for a genuine issue and found a way to help. This is a really important lesson that the pharmaceutical industry needs to remember. Today, it isn't always about the product; it is about the difference you make. Brands need to look beyond product attributes and discover their purpose and their social mission. The other thing of note is, this is not just about brand values, but also a driver of business value. No one minds you making a profit when you are doing the right thing.
Arogya Parivar (“Healthy Family” in Hindi) is a for-profit social initiative that Novartis developed to help the millions of people on the bottom rung of the social ladder in rural India. The poor in India do not have easy access to clinics, so they took the clinics to them, training local “health educators” to raise awareness about typical diseases and how to prevent them. They could also refer people to the traveling clinics that brought drugs in smaller, more affordable packages. The program paid for itself in just 30 months and so it will continue to give care for years to come.
The Emblem Health "What Care Feels Like" campaign took healthy eating into the community via school programs and green markets. Does an insurance company benefit from people staying healthier and making fewer claims? Of course, it does, but so does everyone else.
That is how we need to be thinking in the future, working with and for communities to drive health change across society. Whether it is advertising or content, a community program or a delivery system, all that matters is that we identify and deliver the right support to ensure that everyone gets the education, care and products they need. Then we can all feel better.