Drawn and quartered: digital health consumer study

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Parks Associates’ latest study of potential digital health consumers will come as a confirmation for some of us who’ve been up and down a few hype curves, and be a sobering bucket-of-cold-water for those wedded to the Revolutionary-Transformative-eHealthy-D3H Bandwagon view that digital health will change EVERYONE’s life. Market segmentation is a useful marketing tool for narrowing down your real market to spend those scarce (investor-supplied) funds: those most likely to purchase, and a broad picture of what they look like. As you’ll see in the Parks Associates/TTA graphic above, the market for digital health almost neatly breaks into quarters: the top half has the greatest potential. The report looks at lifestyle/behavior, health, residential and income factors among 2,500 broadband-equipped heads-of-household.

Where’s the surprise party? It’s no surprise that the highest potential market denizens are already health-conscious, good ‘do-bees’ in their diet and exercise and higher in income. The second quarter represents older adults facing health challenges, but already on track with their health ‘mindfulness’–perhaps they are the older, health-challenged versions of the first group. It’s the next two groups and their respective positionings which are the surprise. The Parks study ranks the ‘bad do-bees’ –the already sick with bad health habits and lower incomes–in potential above the young, tech-enthusiastic and healthy–but not health-conscious in their behaviors and also lower in income. Despite all their connectivity, only 28 percent of this group looked up health information online in the past year, contrasting with 38 percent of all responders.

Marketing implications?  I’d be spending my company’s money and time on segments 1 and 2–and making my appeal ageless (not identifying with ‘old and sick/frail’, not good news for traditional/wireless PERS) as well as not ‘over-teching’. Make the tech easy to use. The third segment I’d leave to partners because it’s a hard slog to seeing results.

Takeaway: Digital health is not going to change everyone’s life. Fully half of the digitally connected will either deny you exist or not need/want your device.

Hat tips to Fred Pennic of HIT Consultant for his quick analysis here. Jasmine Pennic’s follow ups:  the Parks infographic and comparing Pew’s earlier study (72 percent of responders looking up health matters online) with the Parks study’s much-lower findings since they break out specific behaviors and frequency specificity. 

Parks Associates’ release. The study will set you back a cool $5,000, or spend that money to attend their presentation at the Connected Health Summit, San Diego California, 4-5 September.

Parks’ Digital Health Segmentation Defined

Healthy and Engaged – Health conscious, don’t have chronic health problems
¤Offer the greatest market potential for digital health products and services.
¤Regularly exercise and eat fresh fruits and vegetables.
¤Have higher incomes, on average.

Challenged but Mindful – Health conscious, have chronic health problem
¤Offer the second-greatest market potential for digital health products and services.
¤Regularly exercise and eat fresh fruits and vegetables but have a chronic health condition.
¤Older consumer segment; unlikely to have children in the home.

Unhealthy and In Denial – Not health conscious, have chronic health problem
¤Offer the third-greatest market potential for digital health products and services.
¤Lower income levels, on average; disproportionately likely to live in the Midwest and South.
¤Do not habitually exercise or eat fresh fruits and vegetables; have a chronic health condition.

Young and Indifferent – Not health conscious, don’t have chronic health problem
¤Lowest market potential for digital health products and services.
¤Youngest segment; low income levels; least likely to be married.
¤Express the most enthusiasm for technology products and services.
¤Healthy but do not habitually exercise or eat fresh fruits and vegetables.

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