Direct-to-consumer -- a viable strategy or a distraction?

Whoopee -- consumers might buy some products... With the announcement that Best Buy may have 'mHealth' devices ready for shopping in up to 500 stores, one might become just a bit excited that a tipping point has been reached -- and that it might encompass the full range of technology for aging in place. Well, it all depends on what you mean by tipping point. The Best Buy list of devices may include blood-pressure monitors, pedometers, and fitness watches -- devices, ideally, that will transmit information to a local or Internet-accessible network. Nice, but frankly, Best Buy has been experimenting for years -- 'up to 500' sounds good, doesn't it?

But they won't pay for remote monitoring. A recently published Parks Associates survey found that 20% of consumer caregivers would pay out of pocket for home health monitoring of individuals in their care, but only 10% of those surveyed would buy for their own care. Juxtapose that thought with the other published percentage -- 70% of those caring for an elderly person are worried about an accidental fall -- and rightly so: according to the CDC, one-third of the 65+ population is at risk of a fall. Yet only 1 in 5 would actually pay for something that could monitor those individuals they are worrying about. And as PERS vendors note, PERS purchases are generally incident-based -- that is, the person has already fallen.

Meanwhile, seniors are probably not surfing the net looking for products. Taking a look at the recently published PEW survey, broadband usage among the 65+ population has inched one percentage point from a year ago to 31%. Non-users were queried this time as to reasons for non-use. The responders were not segmented by age, but one could imagine that the 69% of seniors who don't have broadband would have cited the most popular response of 'just not interested.' They would likely have explained that lack of interest as as relevance (48%) followed by price (21%) and usability (18%). Given that the average cost of a broadband connection is now $41.18/month, that is no surprise. And although this survey didn't address it, only 20% of those 65+ connect wirelessly. Call me crazy -- but I bet those folks are a subset of the 31% who also have broadband. And in case you're wondering, they're not buying iPads either.

Limit online marketing efforts and cultivate referral and resale channels. My conclusion from this mish-mash of surveys is that we are not yet at a time where spending money on direct-to-consumer online marketing makes much sense if the product requires an out-of-pocket purchase. Even when the caregiver is worried, the vast majority (according to Parks) wouldn't buy even if it would help a family member. So what most vendors already grasp -- if the product you sell would benefit a person age 65+, target the channels that already have access and who provide service to those people. That includes referrals by local members of the senior value chain (social services, geriatric care, senior centers, councils on aging, etc), and then cultivate resellers -- dealers and integrators who can follow up referrals and otherwise can find caregivers and seniors who need their help. 

But of course, to use that Mark Twain disclaimer, "there are lies, damn lies, and statistics." Your analysis of the above may vary.  

 


 

Neither of my parents had any

Neither of my parents had any interest in being remotely monitored. While they could have benefited form better coordination between doctors, the race to plug everyone in is disingenuous.

While technology has lots of potential, and can be fun and neat, rest assured, it is not The Answer to all that ails us, whether for purposes of aging in place, or anything else. I am 41, and quite frankly, there is no device, iPad or otherwise, that I actually need. No amount of news, Twitter, Facebook, or movies on a hand held device make my life better. Lets face it, the main type of "content" on any of these things is from people trying to sell me things which, again, I don't really need.

Tempest Fugit

Ah..to be 41 again and not have a clue about the unique needs of baby boomer caregivers and lonely, frail, depressed, and ailing seniors. I predict your feelings about the meaning and utility of AIPT will change as you age. Good luck!

Are these surveys really all that acurate?

One thing about Laurie's blog, is its a great resource for surveys. But are these surveys really all that acurate? I have found them not to be in many cases. If these surveys were all that dependable, I would have never invested so heavily in my own company and projects. Our own marketing, research and sales efforts totally contradicts what people, families and providers are willing to pay. I guess my point is, that these surveys are crap. The people taking these surveys are not faced with the reality of the problem and how technology can assit in making these "transitions" easier. If you want accurate data, go survey the families faced with the real problem of "Where is Mom gonna live?" and "How can I provide better for my parents?". Survey the families considering a major "Transition" and I guarantee the results will blow you away. Our own company VP said, "For what my father did for me growing up, any amount of money to give me just a little more time would be paid with a smile" Sadly our company VP's father died of pneumonia two years ago, which AIPT would have caught before he was to far down the road.

Are people really that cheap and selfish that they wont spend more than $5 per month for Tele-Health? For what that generation has done for us and sacrified, thats pretty sad if thats really the attitude of the majority of families.

Survey accuracy

Thank you for your comment, Mark!

Can't disagree about whether surveys are accurate or not -- especially when they contradict previous surveys (as happens fairly often).  Reader beware -- and always, do more research on your own.

However, to put them in some perspective, they are the reinforcements for investor and product management decision-making already headed in a particular direction.  Organizations have already determined what they want to do -- they use the survey to add to their toolkit for persuading management.

In general, unless one has data to prove otherwise with a large sample set, I think it is reasonable to believe that consumer behavior overall is what multiple surveys say it is -- given that they are random samples and that the people surveyed are being asked about a possibility, not about a current crisis. 

If you have different experience among a small population in a selected market, that may prove that your prospect base will buy your product, but it does not prove that multiple organizations offering the same product to a broad population will be successful.

 

 

PWC: How much would you pay for a remote health monitoring devic

According to a new PWC survey: answer, not much:

 

"40% of 2,000 consumers surveyed said they’d be willing to pay for a remote or mobile monitoring device, such as a scale, blood pressure cuff, glucose meter or heart-rate monitor — but when we asked to dig into that data, we learned that of those willing purchasers, 64% said they’d ante up only if a device cost less than $50. About 41% said they’d be willing to pay for a monthly subscription to send data automatically via a remote or mobile device to a health-care provider — but 47% of them said their limit was $5 per month."

Something isn't nothing!

Are we reading the same article? I see an opportunity to work with willing doctors and patients and device-makers to conduct a demonstration project to examine the cost benefits. Peter

Impasses to marketing AIPT successfully in the future..

The need for adoption of AIPT is huge...yet our perception of the constraints to adoption of AIPT is self-limiting.

Lets better define "the senior value chain" and "resellers". Then, lets focus more on reaching/educating the millions of baby boomers who do use the internet and digital technologies about the value/connectivity/cost savings of emerging aging in place technologies; and lets help them to deal with their stressful costly caregiver concerns about the well being of their elders.

The current impasse to adoption of AIPT is a product of our own marketing myopia.

The only way forward is by changing our "perception" and empowering senior-value chain players and resellers with educational materials, public-relations support, stakeholder-collaboration, and creative financial incentive plans for future AIPT sellers and consumers.

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