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The future of retail health


“We are on the verge of an economic crisis that could disrupt the whole U.S. healthcare system.” Our lack of preventive health care — and the implications of that — was a theme conveyed by numerous economists, healthcare entrepreneurs and technology experts gathered at a special thought leadership event co-produced by Mack Elevation and Drug Store News.

(Click here to download the full Retail Health Summit special report.)

The vision was to tap into the collective intelligence of top organizations, including Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, Bausch + Lomb, IBM Watson Health, UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, Abbott Nutrition and Walmart, just to name a few.

The full-day Retail Health Summit, held June 15 in Bentonville, Ark., revolved around one central question: How do we create the ultimate retail destination for health and wellness for the consumer of the future?

Executives from leading blue-chip health-and-wellness companies and emerging entrepreneurs shared what their organizations are doing to help set the tone for the future of consumer health and wellness. And though product differentiation was a predominant theme throughout the day, the retailer’s perspective stressed the importance of humanity in the industry.

Following are seven key ideas that emerged from the day’s discussions and presentation.

Wholeness. Loneliness is the new smoking. One-in-4 people are suffering from clinical loneliness, a crippling problem that requires a simple solution — attending to the customer (or patient) in a holistic way. Loneliness robs people of their personal wellness and wholeness.

How is your brand creating solutions that address mind, body and soul?

Prevention. Things are changing so fast that strategic planning is not practical. All products must solve real problems that confront people in the moment. The future of consumer health products is prevention, and the future of healthcare distributors is compassion. Tomorrow’s brands will be easy to use, filled with value, personalized and seamless.

Diagnostics. Eighty percent of data today — including content, systems and research — is unstructured. IBM Watson shared that the future of health data will be very personal, synthesized and easy to monitor and consume. We will all have an ongoing 360-degree view of our health. All categories will have health diagnostics uncovering problems before one is at risk.

Habits. To create a new habit, one must disrupt old behaviors and include powerful incentives that inspire change. The best health organizations have created integrated systems that mentor the customer on the best health practices. Great brands disrupt us and cause us to pause. Tomorrow’s winning brands will incorporate some form of personalized behavioral coaching to help the consumer change bad habits.

Humanity. Consumers want their brands to relate to their humanity. It is necessary that brands extend into the consumers’ community and connect with them on a personal, human level. Culturally, trust is at an all-time low, which means companies have the opportunity to assume the role of community leader.

Ecosystem. All of us live in an interdependent ecosystem. Brands — and the marketplace as a whole — also are part of interconnected communities. In the future, we all will be working closely with competitors to create deeper networks — expanding solutions and solving bigger problems. Are you ready to help retail stores evolve and emerge as the center of the healthcare ecosystem?

Different? The torture test for all brands hinges on one question: How am I different, and am I better? Your answer to this question sets the tone for your long-term viability. The consumer wants you to meet them where they are with a transparent solution. Are you distinct?

As Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon noted in June at the company’s 46th annual shareholders meeting, “as the world becomes more digital, it will be the humanity of Walmart that differentiates us and wins with customers.”

An organization’s soul is its secret weapon. For healthcare brands — more than ever before — compassion and lifestyle coaching will win the hearts of consumers.

Dan Mack is the founder and managing director of Mack Elevation Forum, and author of the book “Dark Horse: How Challenger Companies Rise to Prominence.”

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