“Mum’s Not Molecules” - Reckitt Benckiser CEO Rakesh Kapoor positions the future of consumer healthcare in listening to what improves the lives of consumers.
In a conference interview on June 14, Reckitt Benckiser’s (RB) CEO outlined a bold vision for the future of consumer healthcare, built on consumer innovation, an improved and more consistent regulatory system, and new digital business models. Consumer healthcare has become a core pillar to RB’s strategy for growth, and recent interviews and announcements have clearly pointed to their continuously expanded ambitions in this space. Recent comments on the fragmented state of the industry have also reinforced their view regarding the likelihood of continued consolidation, as well as describing their double digit growth in healthcare, the culture of continuous and rapid innovation, and importance of power brands.
These observations point to the importance of consumer based innovation, which may or may not be science based. In the words of Rakesh Kapoor, "All roads need to start with and lead back to improving the lives of consumers today” and “innovation at RB is about both the quantum leaps that take years to develop and the good ideas that help consumers lead healthier lives.” In addition to consumer goods companies, like RB, challenging traditional consumer healthcare companies, further complicating the market is the ongoing convergence around consumer health from the technology, consumer electronic and medical device companies, who are bringing their own experience and capabilities in responding to consumers’ demand for health & wellness solutions.
So what are companies doing to listen to their consumers and foster a culture of consumer orientated innovation with a pace to meet today’s digital consumer?
Japanese Nutrition Company Meiji is innovating new products under the mission statement of “Tastiness, Enjoyment, Health and Reassurance”, including innovative new consumer health products for both elderly and infant customer groups. Innovations include the world’s first infant formula in a cube, as well as products fine-tuned to allergy needs, and enhanced taste products.
Procter & Gamble has long established “virtual stores” that simulate the in store experience and rapidly test new products and packaging with consumers to gauge their feedback. This marked the increasing pace of innovation in consumer markets in recent years, and has enabled P&G to more rapidly and cost effectively bring innovations attuned to consumers’ needs. P&G has also recently invested in a new cloud based analytics system to act as a repository for the huge volume of consumer data it creates from consumer brand websites.
Reckitt Benckiser developed the Nurofen express brand to provide more rapid, yet long acting, pain relief products for consumers with hectic life styles – which involved a reformulation and rebranding of an established OTC product.
Nike is seeking dominance in the health and fitness space with its Fuel band and associated mHealth Apps, and digital sport division, which is part of a global business intelligence strategy to build a social media community for users and forge a tighter and longer term relationship with them.
Apple has launched a new mHealth app to collect blood pressure, heart rate, blood glucose, and diet and exercise data, as well as a cloud based device agnostic “Health Kit” information platform to act as a repository for all users’ health information. Google has launched a cloud based offering, Google Fit, in response.
Amazon opened its first wearable technology online store in April 2014, and has just opened its first UK online store in July 2014 – amongst offerings are many wearable fitness devices like the jawbone, as well as a learning centre where consumers can get information on device compatibility and training videos.
Consumer healthcare companies are on a journey to build greater customer centricity into their innovation and customer brand experience, which will require acquiring new capabilities, adapting established channels and practices, as well as experimenting with new business models. In turn, this will complicate matters in technology and other sectors (retail, consumer goods & services, health, MedTech, etc.), but by converging on the same “changing healthcare consumer opportunity”, they bring many complimentary and advanced capabilities – collaborating with these players will likely be a key differentiator to come.
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