The Idea: “We are on the verge of an economic crisis that could disrupt the whole U.S. healthcare system.” Our lack of preventative healthcare (and implications) was a theme conveyed by numerous economists, healthcare entrepreneurs, and technology experts gathered at a special “think tank” event co-produced by Mack Elevation and Drug Store News.

The vision was to tap into the collective intelligence of many top organizations including: P&G, J&J, Kimberly Clark, Pfizer, Bausch & Lomb, IBM Health Watson, UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, Abbott Nutrition, and Walmart just to name a few.

The think-tank focused on one question: “How do we create the ultimate retail destination for the future of health and wellness for the U.S. consumer?” The day featured top blue chip health and wellness HBC companies and emerging entrepreneurial organizations that are setting the tone for the future of consumer health and wellness.  And though product differentiation was a predominant topic, the retailer’s perspective stressed the importance of humanity in the industry.

So what did we uncover?

  1. Wholeness.   Loneliness is the new smoking.  One out of every four people is suffering from clinical loneliness, a crippling problem that requires a simple solution: attending to the customer (or patient) in a wholesome way.  Increasing loneliness robs people of their personal wellness and wholeness. How is your brand creating solutions that address mind, body and soul?

  2. 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 health care products is prevention, and the future of health care distributors is compassion. Tomorrow’s brands will be easy to use, filled with value, personalized, and seamless.

  3. Diagnostics.  80% of all data today – including content, systems, and research – is unstructured. IBM Watson shared that the future of health data is very personal, synthesized and easy to monitor and consume.  We will all have an ongoing 360 view of our health.  All categories will have health diagnostics uncovering problems before one is at risk.
  4. Habits.   To create a new habit one must disrupt old behaviors and include powerful incentives which 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 include personalized behavioral coaches to help you change your behavior.  

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

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

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

Walmart’s CEO recently put it perfectly when he stated “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.  With healthcare brands, more than ever before, compassion and lifestyle coaching will win the hearts of consumers.