#6, April 1999
Health Is It Anyway?
the Loop tracks consumer values which we believe
will become more important in the market-place.
One consumer value established for some time is
health. However, there are now some signs of
forces of change impacting the shape of health
values in a very different way. This value will
not only affect health products and services but
should be seen as a factor in a wider sense.
a scenario planning project conducted in the
mid-1990s, it appeared that the consumer would be
asked to become more responsible for their own
health. One of the key drivers for this was to be
the progressive limiting of government resources
to fund mass healthcare, shifting the onus of
responsibility onto the consumer.
factors such as the ageing of many populations,
raised expectations of good health, new treatments
for certain diseases were all going to place
additional burdens on health services. Preliminary
evidence of healthcare rationing was dismissed and
not really taken seriously. Certainly, the
consumer, while being health-aware, seemed to have
little understanding of the potential outcomes.
the end of the decade, it would appear that a new
health construct is emerging. Through the Loop
expects some of the elements of this construct to
be greater state intervention, more rationing,
perceived failure of the healthcare system, a
renewed emphasis on inner health and self-help,
active exploration for alternatives,
spiritualism-searching for inner balance and more
consumer advocacy. This will lead to a series of
very different opportunities. These elements
should be examined in greater detail for new
impacts. Incidentally, many of the examples are
mature-market based, but it expected that these
signals will impact globally over time.
seem to be taking a more interventionist stance
towards healthcare policy. For example, Tony Blair
has been quoted as suggesting that the provision
of healthcare services in the future would rely on
individuals having responsibility for their
actions, for example, drinking and smoking.
"More self help means help for all."
examples of this interventionist attitude include:
action to produce safeguards against what
might be regarded as remote risks e.g. the
banning of beef on the bone to prevent BSE.
introduction of a National Institute of
Clinical Excellence leading to appraisal of
treatments before they are widely introduced.
emphasis on government nutritional guidelines.
use of National Lottery money to fund a
network of healthy living centres targeted in
disadvantaged regions of the UK.
banning of smoking in public places.
encouragement of institutional intervention
into drinking and drug-taking including random
sampling tests in some organisations.
finding that societies with narrower income
distributions are healthier will add some fuel to
interventionism especially in countries like the
UK and US.
have now been several examples of rationing such
as the restrictions placed on the prescription of
Viagra. It is expected that rationing examples
will increase and become more overt. In the UK,
geographical rationing has also become common.
Failure of the Healthcare System
consumer qualitative research in the UK has shown
a strong awareness of failure of the healthcare
system. Comments such as:
think it is very wasteful."
whole system is crumbling."
do not care, they are too busy."
asked to write an obituary for the National Health
Service, one of the most telling was:
NHS was brought to its knees by mis-management,
over-popularity, the State of the Nation. A nation
of haves and have-nots. The majority being the
latter who needed its services more and more as
their lives deteriorated. Every thing has a
exploratory research among opinion leaders of
various healthcare bodies reinforced the notion of
a potential death warrant for any mass healthcare
for before we had it, maligned by those who
enjoyed it. To be preserved for those who need
it-and paid for by those who can afford it."
Health and Self-Help
the end of the 1990s, when one in three consumers
suffer from insomnia, depression is common, there
is an increasing incidence of allergies and more
obvious stress, it is not surprising that
consumers are turning to inner-health. They want
to feel in control of their lives and a deep
inner-focus allows them to achieve this. They are
now searching for improved physiological and
psychological balance. The continued impact of
uncertainty in the future will increase this
attention. In this regard, watch for the
oscillation between optimism and anxiety. The
millennium, as a visible transition point, is also
aggravating this tension between anxiety and
will be active exploration of alternatives and
complementary medicines. Look at the development
of aromatherapy, homeopathy, naturotherapy,
acupuncture, herbalism, hydrotherapy, reflexology
and so on. Many consumers will look to use these
alternatives due to improved access, greater
knowledge and also because of the perceived
benefits over traditional treatments.
alternative market has now become mainstream.
search for inner balance is leading to an interest
in spiritualism. "Living right" in many
mature societies in taking over from materialism.
Ira Matathia suggests that consumers will look for
whatever makes them feel comfortable and grounded.
Other observers have suggested the development of
the "tao generation."
is not surprising that there will be increased
consumer advocacy as a result of being more
knowledgeable and caring more about what we
consume. The strategy of transparency will be
virtuous in the future. Consumer advocacy was seen
strongly in the recent wave of consumer
uncertainty about genetically modified foods.
series of futures can now be seen. Some examples
life expectancies will create new markets.
This has been described as the coming agequake.
Average life expectancy in the world was 48
years in 1955; this will reach 73 by the year
quality of life will raise new debates and
a time-starved world, parcels and fragments of
time will be important.
will be more aggressive health maintenance and
duration health boosters and experiences will
expand as consumer opportunities.
will be a merging between traditional and
programmes and the enhancement of non-material
acceptance will change as the mature world
role of the media in shaping these issues will
alter with greater information directly
available to the consumer.
self-diagnosis tests in the area of impacts
for ageing. Osteoporosis is just the start.
for intelligent nutrients.
changing healthcare construct is underway,
shifting the opportunities for brands, delivery
channels and new experiences, both inside and
outside what may be viewed as the healthcare
market. Renewed involvement is necessary in many
of these facets in order to determine new
a result of this changing health construct, brand
development should be expected to become more
holistic. The introduction of Niquitin, the
smoking cessation aid, shows the path that more
healthcare brands will start to follow.
early signals of change are just the beginning in
a new era when the consumer asks "whose
health is it anyway" and "who has final