Convergence: the power to change a marketplace

There’s something in the air these days; it’s the sound of change and evolution in the healthy lifestyles sector, says Jeff Hilton, Co-Founder and CMO, BrandHive

There’s something in the air these days. It’s the sound of change and evolution in the healthy lifestyles sector. It’s a movement with momentum and it’s driving the marketplace. I like to call it convergence.

Convergence manifests itself in a number of ways that provide insight into where we are headed as an industry. Any savvy industry observer can feel the winds of change uprooting 'business as usual' and, frankly, turning the paradigms we have all operated under for decades on their heads. I have identified four specific types of convergence that I think are changing the way consumers think and buy healthy or better-for-you products and services.

Category convergence

The lines are blurring between supplements, foods, beverages and pharmaceuticals. As consumers become aware of validated nutrients that they want to incorporate into their diets, they want to consume them in the most convenient and non-intrusive manner possible. So, they are increasingly relying on enhanced and fortified foods and beverages to supply the dietary supplementation that has traditionally and historically been delivered through tablets and capsules.

Smart dietary supplement manufacturers and suppliers should already be developing plans to make sure they have a primary or cobranded presence in the burgeoning functional food and beverage categories. In addition, convenience and portability is driving consumers toward alternative dosage forms that are more easily consumed and transported, including liquids, gels, shots, gummies and stick packs.

Smart dietary supplement manufacturers should already be testing alternative delivery forms or partnerships for their nutrients. The actual and virtual retail shelves are changing, and for good reason. Pill fatigue is not just a senior issue; it’s a people issue.

Channel Convergence

The paradigm of control in the marketplace, in case you haven’t noticed, has been turned upside down, with the consumer now in control and wielding all the power. They can quickly and easily price shop and compare retail offerings with direct-to-consumer websites. They can dissect and research claimed features and benefits and access product reviews in seconds. Today’s consumer is all about transparency and authenticity, so there is no place to hide.

Plus, increasingly more integrative health providers are recommending and even dispensing dietary supplements to their patients. So, as these various distribution channels continue to overlap and merge, the competition for consumer mind share is intensifying. Smart marketers are establishing revenue streams in each of these growing channels to tap into consumer trends in self-care that show no signs of diminishing. The name of the game in today’s environment is to be wherever the customer is, and that’s not easy.

Technology convergence

If the 23andMe, Fitbits, Apple watches and other innovations in wearable technology have taught us anything, it’s that consumers don’t need (or want) a doctor to tell them what’s up with their day-to-day health status. For catastrophic illness, MDs are still the first resort.

But, for more general maladies and ageing/prevention strategies, consumers are self-diagnosing in droves and using technology to monitor their cholesterol, blood pressure, sleep patterns and even genetic propensities. Who knew?

And that’s just the beginning. According to thought leaders and professionals, the 'Quantified Self' is nearly here as consumers take charge and proactively work to monitor their own health and wellness needs. Smart marketers are now working on plans to integrate their products with these emerging self-assessment technologies … or get left behind.

Consumer convergence

In my opinion, where all of this is leading is to a significant marketplace opportunity that rivals any we have seen in the past few decades. Consumers are empowered, but they’re also confused. They are armed with tactics, but don’t have an integrated plan of action for improved or sustained health as they age.

They have their enhanced beverages, nutritional gummies, nutricosmetics and their digital devices, but they don’t understand how to bring it all together in a cohesive, efficient and effective way. Where this is leading is to more customised, personalised healthcare delivery that takes into consideration the whole patient or consumer.

What is lacking is an approach that integrates these elements into an actionable, credible and easy-to-follow plan or regimen that can be tracked, customised and replicated across a broad population.

Smart industry players are working to capitalise on this explosive megatrend that has emerged from the convergence of multiple categories, channels, technologies and consumer demographics. Smart marketers recognise that this multifaceted convergence is one of the single biggest market opportunities we’ve seen in this nation of ageing baby boomers and entitled millennials.