Tara Hirebet
Aug 15, 2013

'Wellthy': Health is wealth, and the priority spend

With environmental and food-safety concerns on the increase, innovations that allow consumers to control both their well-bring and their impact on the planet stand to make health into wealth for brands.

'Wellthy': Health is wealth, and the priority spend

As Asia continues to develop and consumption in the region continues to rise, wastage from that consumption is becoming a growing issue, as consumers now feel the environmental and health impact of it in their daily life.

As a result, health is truly wealth for brands and companies, as it is fast becoming a priority spend in the region, especially for homes, families and children. Healthcare spend in China, for example, is projected to rise from $357 billion back in 2011 to $1 trillion in 2020 (McKinsey, September 2012).  So watch out for consumers snapping up ‘Wellthy’ innovations that offer more quantified, transparent and real-time environmental data so they can be better in control of their own health, as well as ones that help protect them indoors and outdoors or offer a herbal rebalance to their chemically processed lives.

Driving this trend:

  • Closer to home: Pollution and sanitation issues today are on people’s doorsteps on a daily basis, making its impact obvious and personal. This is driving consumers towards healthier and more hygienic life changes.
  • Scandals everywhere: Food and health safety scandals are getting bigger media coverage and seem more widespread (The 16,000 dead pigs found in Shanghai’s Huangpu River in March 2013). They’re also no longer local issues; they’re international, with foreign countries and companies involved in them (China’s 2008 melamine milk scare, tainted Chinese strawberries making German school children sick in October 2012, and a hazardous level of Indonesian haze hitting Singapore end June 2013).
  • Fear and distrust: Asian consumers suspect a lack of immediacy and transparency in both the data being released by governments and corporations and the actions taken to prevent or to solve them. Consumers now want to own and track their own data and implement their own health measures.

Here are four ideas to help your client or brand cater to growing health safety needs:

1. Homes as health-controlled zones

Embed health technology into actual furniture and fixtures and create smartphone apps that offer control, tracking and syncing. The message you need to market is that you can turn consumers’ homes (and them) into controllable health zones and create a sanctuary away from external urban dangers, where they can detox their bodies before going back outdoors.

Available online from June 2012, the S$50 Sonaki Vitamin C Hand Shower has a showerhead fitted with a Vitamin C filter. This neutralizes any chlorine and toxic elements in the water and provides users with a dose of Vitamin C when used. While in Hong Kong, James Law Cybertecture has created the Cybertecture Mirror, a digitally enhanced augmented reality mirror with a sensor pad that detects and displays a user’s heart rate and vital signs and syncs it with their personal devices. It also displays social media updates, weather forecasts and personal calendars on it.

2. Hip herbals

Make a modern version (update) of traditional herbal beauty care, healthcare and medical care or add traditional herbal ingredients into current beauty and food product ranges. This will satisfy Asian consumers who are looking to their past for less chemically processed options, but want them with modern quality control and safety standards.

Opened in September 2012, Dough & Grains in Tiong Bahru is the first modern TCM bakery, that incorporates traditional Chinese medicine ingredients and aesthetics into modern baked goods. Examples include Ginseng Wolfberry Cupcakes, Longan and Yakult Muffins and White Lily Buns that feature a white edible ‘lily’ draped over a green Macha bun.

3. Concierge-level Healthcare

Reimagine and redesign healthcare environments for the affluent as pampering, comforting 5-star resorts or spas. Offer lazy luxury conveniences and services and emphasise this in marketing images and messages.

Opened in August 2012, the Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital is called a ‘hospi-TEL’ because it is designed to look like a 5-star hotel. Rooms come with en suite marble bathrooms with rain showers and hot and cold bidets, a safe, a mini bar and fridge, a pillow menu, a personal entertainment centre, high-speed Internet and floor-to-ceiling stunning city views. Patients are also provided with a private nurse and butler services.

4. Safety Net

Create transparent real-time data tracking devices, apps and maps of food safety, pollution, sanitation and disease. Also think about incorporating crowdsourced data and embedding advice and discussion forums. This will make consumers and citizens feel empowered and in control of their own health and safety.

Beta-launched in China in November 2012, Danger Maps are health and safety hazard maps that have been culled from public data by the non-profit group, IT Engineers for Environmental Protection Association. Since April 2013, Shanghai and Shaoxing’s maps have become open platforms (crowdsourced) with more cities to follow. Now a private user or NGO can set up an account and create hazard alert posts offering anything from simple GPS co-ordinates and info, to photos and independent reports.

Now is the time to help consumers put the balance back into their lives and place them in a position of knowledge and power (vs. fear) over their own health and safety. Do it well, and you will put your brand in a more powerful position too.

Tara Hirebet is head of Asia-Pacific at Trendwatching.com, "an opinionated trend firm that scans the globe for the most promising consumer trends, insights and related hands-on business ideas".

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