App Store trend of 2018: Self-care

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Apple’s distribution platform for mobile apps, the App Store, recently selected self-care as its trend of the year. Wellness apps designed to encourage healthy habits, improve sleep, reduce anxiety and increase mindfulness have been the major trend on the iOS platform over the past year, according to Apple.

Fittingly, one of these popular apps is called #SelfCare, launched by TRU LUV Media in summer 2018. Designed like a game, the app promotes emotional wellbeing via breathing exercises and other small acts of self-care. Another is called Shine – Self-Care & Meditation, which delivers free daily motivational messages, 5-minute affirmations and meditations, plus tips on how to reduce stress, improve sleep and increase focus.

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The popularity of such apps is good news for OTC marketers, especially those operating in lifestyle and VMS categories that focus on mental wellbeing, i.e. sedatives & sleep aids and herbal memory & brain health. Apple noted that apps for physical health, such as those that track calories and steps, have long been popular with iOS users, but emphasised that this trend towards apps for mental health is a new phenomenon.

That said, what may be somewhat concerning to OTC marketers is that this evolving definition of self-care doesn’t appear to include self-medication. While OTC New Products Tracker lists medical device launches in 2018 that incorporate an accompanying app – such as Nokia Sleep and Natural Cycles, the latter designed to aid conception – supplements or drugs backed by a mobile app are much thinner on the ground.

Review the latest new products hitting the CHC market with OTC New Products Tracker, the ideal competitive intelligence tool. We recently unveiled a major update, with eye-catching new graphs and powerful search filters that help you visualise and explore the vast archive according to your exact requirements. To trial the updated database or for a demo, please contact waisan.lee-gabell@NicholasHall.com

 

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Apple Watch Series 4 “first ECG product offered OTC”

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At its autumn keynote event last week, Apple announced upgrades to several of its products, including the Apple Watch Series 4. The smartwatch’s potential as an essential healthcare device is now being more fully realised, with Apple receiving Class II “de novo” FDA clearance for the Apple Watch’s innovative ECG and atrial fibrillation (AFib) features. COO Jeff Williams called Apple Watch Series 4 “the first ECG product offered over-the-counter directly to consumers”, though AliveCor has contested this claim.

One of the announcements that drew the greatest applause at the event was the unveiling of the new ECG app, which can take a reading and provide results in around 30 seconds. Results are derived not just from the second-generation electrical heart sensor in the back crystal of the watch, but also electrodes in the Digital Crown, which must be pressed down by fingertip during the reading. Users are then given a heart rhythm classification, with a normal rhythm classified as “Sinus Rhythm”.

Apple Watch ECG

A new operating system (watchOS 5) also ensures that the new electrical heart sensor intermittently works in the background, notifying users if their heart rate appears to be too high or low, or if there are signs of an irregular heart rhythm, such as those suggestive of AFib. If detected, the new Apple Watch prompts users to “talk to your doctor”, while also ensuring that all recordings, along with associated classifications and any noted symptoms, are stored in the Health app in a PDF that can be shared with health professionals.

Another innovative healthcare feature is Apple Watch Series 4’s ability to detect falls, thanks to it new gyroscope and accelerometer. This hardware allows for analysis of wrist trajectory and impact acceleration – after a fall, an alert is sent to the user, which can be dismissed or used to initiate a call to emergency services. If no movement is sensed for 60 seconds after the alert, the new Apple Watch will automatically call emergency services and send a message along with location to emergency contacts. Such features are likely to broaden the appeal of the Apple Watch among an older demographic, and more importantly have the potential to save lives.

Nicholas Hall will visit the stunning city of Vienna on 2-4 April 2019 to lead our 30th European CHC Conference & Action Workshop! Focusing on the central theme of Keeping Up with the Digital Consumer, this meeting will also feature a workshop from The CHC Training Academy, enabling you to Embrace Digital Transformation. To find out more about this pivotal meeting, early bird booking rates, and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Elizabeth.Bernos@nicholashall.com

 

Apple and Google make new healthcare moves

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Two stories emerged last week that underlined the importance of healthcare to tech giants Apple and Google. First, CNBC reported that Apple was hiring engineers tasked with developing new health sensors, while later in the week it was reported that Google is working on a new healthcare and fitness AI assistant called Google Coach.

As both companies well know, healthcare is a notoriously tough market to crack, given the need for precision technology and the regulatory hurdles. In Apple’s case, some of the disappointment that accompanied the launch of the Apple Watch was related to the lack of healthcare features – the device’s optical sensor only tracks heart rate – so the beefing up of its health sensor team could mean new features further down the line, such as heart rhythm monitoring or even non-invasive blood sugar monitoring.

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As for Google, despite the failure or lukewarm reception of previous ventures like Google Health and Google Fit, the company remains committed to the healthcare market. Reports indicate that the company is working on a new venture, Google Coach, which will leverage AI technology to offer not just fitness tracking, but also workout routines, medication reminders, meal plans, etc.

Like Apple, Google is planning to integrate these new features with its wearable devices, known as the Wear OS range, with support for other Android devices likely to follow. Google is also reportedly working on “conversational notifications”, which group several alerts into one larger notification to avoid turning off users with information overload. Perhaps the AI performing these conversations may one day recommend OTCs.

Nicholas Hall will visit the stunning city of Vienna on 2-4 April 2019 to lead our 30th European CHC Conference & Action Workshop! Focusing on the central theme of Keeping Up with the Digital Consumer, this meeting will also feature a workshop from The CHC Training Academy, enabling you to Embrace Digital Transformation. To find out more about this pivotal meeting, early bird booking rates, and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Elizabeth.Bernos@nicholashall.com

Competition rises in sleep devices category

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Now available to buy in the US and selected European markets via the Nokia Health store, the new Nokia Sleep device is a sensor pad that can be placed under the mattress to monitor sleep patterns, track heart rate and detect snoring. 

It also syncs up to Nokia’s Health Mate app and provides smart home control via IFTTT (if this then that) integration, which allows for automatic thermostat regulation and light adjustment. The app also allows the user to view their Sleep Score to get an insight into what makes a good night’s sleep and how to improve night after night.

Packaged as a sensor pad with USB charger, Nokia Sleep retails at $99.95 (USA), €99.95 (Europe) and £99.95 (UK), and the brand website indicates that there are plans to roll out the product in key Asia-Pacific markets like China and Japan.

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Facing stiff competition in the smartphone market from Apple, Google and Chinese manufacturers, Nokia – the former king of mobile phones – is looking to further diversify its business.

Nokia Sleep was due to launch earlier this year, but news of a strategic review of Nokia’s Digital Health business in February 2018 put the rollout in doubt. Nokia will be monitoring closely how this new product fares against established competitor Beddit, which was acquired by Apple in 2017.

Whether you want to find out more about the latest innovations, benchmark the competition or simply keep abreast of new launches, Nicholas Hall’s extensive OTC New Products Tracker is an essential competitive intelligence tool that you simply must trial. Subscribers can also benefit from a newsletter highlighting the key product innovations affecting the industry. Find out more or set up your free trial today by contacting david.redford@NicholasHall.com

Voice search: How will OTC adapt?

A recent Wall Street Journal video, exploring how the advent of voice-activated online shopping is forcing consumer goods companies to adapt their marketing models, has caused a lot of discussion internally here at Nicholas Hall & Company. In this week’s blog, we provide some context on this growing trend – a phenomenon some are calling “v-commerce”, with the “v” standing for voice – and look at the implications for the consumer healthcare industry.

According to an Accenture survey conducted in late 2017, ownership of voice-activated devices, or “smart speakers”, is rising sharply in many countries, up from 7% to 21% of Americans over the past year, and up from 4% to 14% in China. Whether it’s Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, this rising tide of “digital voice assistants” is expected to achieve penetration of 30-40% in many countries by the end of 2018.

50% of all searches will be done by voice within the next 5 years” – Sébastien Szczepaniak, Head of Sales & E-Business, Nestlé

If indeed half of all search queries are performed on voice-activated technologies by 2023, then this poses some stiff challenges for marketers. For example, at present, Amazon’s Alexa algorithm:

  1. Only provides two brand options in any product category
  2. Favours brands you’ve previously purchased, entrenching your preferences

Compared to retail outlets, where several brands are often on display, and e-commerce, where the brand options are even more extensive, voice search provides a very limited choice for consumers and this in turn could have a chilling effect on the brands and marketers that rank No.3 and below in certain categories.

When I tested Amazon Alexa, at home in the UK this past weekend, I was given two options when requesting a “stomach remedy” – Amazon’s first choice was Gaviscon Double Action (RB), followed by Andrews (GSK). When asking for a specific ingredient (“paracetamol”), Alexa was less reliable, with antacid Rennie (Bayer) offered as the top choice, followed by ibuprofen-based Nurofen Express (RB).

Of course, the technology remains in its infancy, so algorithms will evolve. One saving grace for OTC is that it will remain somewhat immune, compared to other consumer goods industries, given that medicines still require pharmacist intervention in many countries and that often the need to treat is so urgent that many people won’t be able to wait for their medicine to be delivered.

However, marketers of supplements – and other lifestyle and preventive remedies that are required less urgently – will need to start factoring this trend into their business plans immediately. With Amazon now starting to launch its own supplements and consumer healthcare remedies, the competition to be one of those Top 2 picks could get even more intense in the near future for OTC marketers.

Whether you want to find out more about the latest innovations, benchmark the competition or simply keep abreast of new launches, Nicholas Hall’s extensive OTC New Products Tracker is an essential competitive intelligence tool that you simply must trial. Subscribers can also benefit from a newsletter highlighting the key product innovations affecting the industry. Find out more or set up your free trial today by contacting david.redford@NicholasHall.com

Apple deal with device maker sign of more to come?

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Apple announced at its recent WorldWide Developers Conference in California that it would soon be offering users the chance to monitor their glucose levels. The company has partnered with medical device maker Dexcom and will link the company’s glucose monitoring device with the Apple Watch.

For some time now, Apple has been positioning itself as a dedicated health and fitness provider through the Apple Watch series. However, while Apple has previously marketed itself towards lifestyle and fitness fanatics, it has yet to enter the medical device sector.

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Apple has also previously been reported to be hiring a small team of biomechanical engineers to develop sensors that monitor the body’s blood sugar levels. The team are said to be working on non-invasive sensors that do no require users to prick their skin for blood testing.

Apple is also now home to our new OTC DASHBOARD app. To download it from the Apple Store now, click here.