Barcelona Conference Report

In this week’s blog, we report back from Nicholas Hall’s OTC INSIGHT 29th Conference & OTC Training Academy Workshop in Barcelona, the first to ever see Nicholas Hall’s keynote address livestreamed to an audience across the globe via YouTube.

Nicholas’ opening address to delegates explored the 4 elements of PACE, which all marketers need to adopt in order to increase their pace and move faster:

P = Pharmacy and retail, the bedrock of the OTC market = 80% of revenue outside US (70% if inc US)

A = Adjacency, reaching beyond the 6 core categories of OTC and seeing where we can branch out (i.e. diabetes, Alzheimer’s, hearing screeners, etc)

C = Consumer (Nicholas was joined on stage by Luca Pagano of BeMyEye who explored how social changes have impacted how and when people buy, and the power of crowdsourced insights to transform in-store execution)

E = Engaging with the consumer and e-commerce (as Nicholas said, the topic of e-commerce would be deserving of a whole conference of its own)

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Nicholas Hall encourages OTC marketers to pick up the PACE

On Day 2, another packed schedule of speakers was rounded off with David Blair, Google’s Head of Industry Heath. His presentation to delegates explored three major trends which are impacting everything we do: chip, cloud computing and AI / machine learning.

Today we practically live online, and the smartphone is now the consumer’s main device – through which nearly all traffic passes – a fact that is having a massive impact on the health industry. Blair said that voice search is going to become the next key driver and could have implications for healthcare marketing (see our recent blog on this topic), as we move from Point of Care, where we expect the consumer to wait for appointments, visit the doctor and then the pharmacist, to a space where we can have care anywhere.

In 2017, there were 160bn searches for healthcare globally via Google, with 2bn alone just for the allergy category! Almost two-thirds of these searches were conducted via a mobile device. There was also an increase for searches for “best non-drowsy allergy medicine”, “best cold & flu medicine” and so forth. Last year, Google also saw a 60x increase in searches for “near me”, highlighting the shift towards immediacy.

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Google’s David Blair closes out proceedings

For more updates on consumer healthcare trends, and a full round-up of Day 1 and Day 2 proceedings, be sure to follow Nicholas Hall on Linkedin

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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

Google Launches “Health Cards” in Australia

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Self-diagnosis can often lead to much panic and anxiety. UK newspaper The Telegraph reported in a 2015 survey that one in four of us choose to self-diagnose on the internet instead of visiting doctors. With OTC products so readily available in numerous regions, self-diagnosis could lead to self-medicating incorrectly.

Last week, Google launched verified medical information in Australian search results, detailing common health complaints such as coughs, infections, rashes and snakebites. However, Australian doctors have warned that while the information might be a conversation starter, it could lead to misdiagnoses and should never replace seeing a specialist.

Google revealed plans to launch Health Cards as part of Google search results in Australia after working on the project with doctors and medical agencies, one of which was the Mayo Clinic. The cards cover the details and symptoms of over 900 health conditions and diseases recommending next steps for concerned sufferers.

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llnesses and concerns featured in Google’s Health Cards will include tonsillitis, coeliac disease and eye infections, with some cards also featuring animated GIFs to demonstrate illnesses. Google Health Cards programme manager Isobel Solaqua said the project was created to address the growing number of medical questions fired at its search engine, stating that: “In fact, one in 20 Google searches are for health-related information … We developed this feature to help people find the health information they need more quickly and easily.”

Australian Medical Association federal vice-president Dr Tony Bartone said users should be “careful not to substitute health information for a qualified medical opinion”. Dr Bartone added that Google’s Health Cards could help patients refine questions for their doctor but medical professionals did not “want to end up with 50 reams of Google pages” brought into consultations.

Online health advice offers us a potential quick fix solution for ongoing health issues, enabling us to ease discomfort and anxiety. Considering this, Google Health Cards will no doubt be a feature that is used and appreciated by many. Though consultants have expressed concerns about confusion and misdiagnosis, is there the potential that this could boost OTC sales and allow people to avoid visiting consultants for minor issues?

OTCs in Action Episode 22: Genetic disorders vs. alcoholic blushes

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Although red noses are stereotypically associated with flying reindeer and alcoholics, it’s often a symptom of rosacea, a skin disorder most commonly found in people of Irish and Western European descent. To debunk the blarney, alcohol is a trigger for symptoms but less so than sun exposure, emotional stress, hot weather, wind and heavy exercise. OTCs are in Action this month pioneering the future of personalised self-diagnosis, using DNA to identify genes for rosacea and Bloom Syndrome.In the first case, Google’s 23andMe, the groundbreaking company that is bringing DNA testing to consumers, teamed with researchers at Stanford University to study the data of more than 46,000 23andMe customers who consented to sharing their data for research. The study, available online in The Journal of Investigative Dermatology, found two genetic variants strongly associated with the disease among people of European ancestry. Further, the study uncovered that the genetic variants, or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), found to be strongly associated with rosacea are in or near the HLA-DRA and BTNL2genes, which are associated with other diseases, including diabetes and coeliac disease.

Additionally, the company went a step further in the self-diagnosis continuum last month, when it was granted authorisation by the FDA to market the Bloom Syndrome carrier status report. Bloom Syndrome is an inherited disorder characterised by short stature, sun-sensitive skin changes, an increased risk of cancer and other health problems. According to the company: “This is an important first step in fulfilling our commitment to return genetic health reports to consumers. This is the first-time the FDA has granted authorisation to market a direct-to-consumer genetic test, and it gives us a regulatory framework for future submissions.

“While this authorisation is for a single carrier status test only; we are committed to returning health information to our US customers who don’t already have this information once more tests have been through this process and we have a more comprehensive product offering.”

Last week, 23andMe announced the creation of a new therapeutics group and appointment of Richard Scheller, PhD, as chief science officer and head of therapeutics to lead it. Dr Scheller retired in December 2014 from a distinguished 14 year career as an executive at Genentech, where he was the executive vice president of research and early development.

When Dr Scheller assumes his post at the beginning of April 2015, he will help build a dedicated research and development team. The therapeutics group aims to use human genetic data as the starting point for identifying new therapies for both common and rare diseases. “I have dedicated my life to research aimed at fulfilling unmet needs for very sick people,” said Dr Scheller. “I believe that human genetics has a very important role to play in finding new treatments for disease. I am excited about the potential for what may be possible through 23andMe’s database. It is unlike any other.”