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Consumer Engagement in Healthcare: Purchase Journey

16 Jan 2023

The modern-day consumer takes their health and wellness seriously

Allen Strong is a 35-year-old real estate agent based in the big apple. He is very passionate about what he does but always makes enough time to hit the gym 4 times a week, owns the latest apple watch to track his daily activity, and meditates every morning to kickstart his day. Allen is also a very conscious eater-he never forgets to take his daily vitamins and micronutrients to supplement his diet. He has a very extensive skin routine, and his favorite pastime activity on the metro is to research the new trends in skincare and explore new products by his favorite brands. Does Allen sound like someone you know?

The consumer health and wellness have become a primary focus for people worldwide. In a recent survey by McKinsey, 79% of respondents said they believed that wellness was important, and 42% considered it their top priority. With the growth in the number of health-focused digital platforms and websites, consumers are now well-aware of their options and no longer rely solely on their physician’s advice for taking care of their health. It is, therefore, fair to say that the modern-day consumer is well-informed, digitally savvy, and in control of their health-related decisions.

How does technology affect consumer health brands?

The rise in Rx-to-OTC switches, private retail brands, and e-tailing by new direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands have created a cluttered and chaotic consumer health marketplace. Consumers are, therefore, swamped with multiple choices that have left them more confused than confident. This shift has severely impacted consumer health marketers who face the daunting task of discovering new and effective ways of reaching and influencing a discerning consumer audience. And they are struggling to deal with this change. Here’s why.

Information overload by new and competing brands cluttering the consumer communication channels and making the path to purchase more convoluted than it should be.
Unidimensional engagement models using limited and obsolete means and mediums of consumer engagement - causing the consumer to turn to newer brands with an avant-garde engagement approach.
Operational inertia among teams about switching from mass marketing to a data-driven and targeted marketing model.
Lack of robust data-driven capabilities that support the personalization and optimization of content and campaigns through accurate real-time insights.

In this article, we explore the evolution of the consumer journey and its impact on engagement models. We also provide innovative strategies that can help consumer health marketers elevate their interactions with consumers and turn them into loyal brand advocates.

Importance of Customer Engagement in Healthcare

In today's digital era, customer engagement has become a linchpin for the healthcare industry's success. The shift towards a more connected and informed patient population demands healthcare providers and companies to rethink their engagement strategies. The digitization of healthcare has opened new avenues for communication, enabling a more personalized, immediate, and interactive relationship between healthcare providers and their clients.

Benefits of Customer Engagement in Healthcare

Investing in customer engagement brings multifaceted benefits to healthcare brands, paramount among these being Enhanced Customer Satisfaction and Increased Customer Lifetime Value. Through personalized and responsive interactions, healthcare providers can significantly boost patient satisfaction, laying the foundation for trust and loyalty in the sensitive realm of healthcare services. This deepened patient-provider relationship encourages ongoing engagement with the brand's offerings, from routine check-ups to comprehensive wellness programs, thereby enhancing the customer's lifetime value to the brand. Satisfied patients are more likely to adhere to prescribed treatments and engage in preventive healthcare measures, leading to better health outcomes and reduced long-term costs for both patients and providers. Moreover, patients who have positive experiences are often transformed into brand ambassadors, organically expanding the healthcare brand’s reach through word-of-mouth and online testimonials. Consequently, a strategic focus on customer engagement not only elevates patient satisfaction and loyalty but also propels business growth and operational efficiency in the healthcare sector.

Evolution of the consumer journey

A few decades ago, the consumer journey entailed coming across a product or service on a billboard, newspaper, radio, or television. If they liked what they saw or heard, they went to the store to purchase the item. The consumer purchase journey was simple and linear. Brands had it easy – their one-size-fits-all approach worked.

Figure 1: Traditional consumer path to purchase

In today’s world, however, getting and retaining the consumer’s mind share is more complex than ever. They want engagement via digital and physical mediums. When a product catches a consumer’s attention, they research it on the internet, read customer reviews on several e-commerce platforms or personal blogs, listen to the testimonials by their revered social media influencers, and try to get a feel of the product by visiting stores or experience centers. Once they are convinced that the product fulfills their needs, adheres to the relevant quality standards, and aligns with their ethos, they purchase the product. And it does not end there. Consumers also prefer brands that focus on delivering the product on time, resolving customer complaints with a sense of urgency, and providing a superior customer experience at every touch point. It is even fair to say that brands that manage to create a lasting impression on consumers even after completing the sale will be able to win their loyalty and turn them into brand ambassadors in the long run.

Figure 2: Modern consumer path to purchase

Barriers to Effective Customer Engagement

Despite the clear advantages of robust customer engagement strategies in healthcare, several challenges and roadblocks can hinder effective implementation. From the healthcare provider's perspective, constraints such as technological limitations, regulatory compliance issues, and the need for significant investment in digital infrastructure can dampen efforts to enhance engagement. Additionally, healthcare professionals often grapple with balancing the high demands of clinical care with the need to maintain personalized patient communication. On the patient side, factors like digital literacy, privacy concerns, and varying levels of access to technology can significantly impact engagement levels. Patients may also feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information available, making it difficult to discern reliable healthcare guidance. These barriers underscore the complexity of achieving effective customer engagement in healthcare, requiring tailored strategies that address both provider capabilities and patient needs.

Consumer Engagement Strategies to Implement

Figure 3: The various segments in the consumer health market

The consumer health space is quite broad, with multiple segments that target diverse audiences. Marketers need to adopt innovative and customized marketing strategies that help gain the attention and loyalty of consumers across these segments.

Figure 4: Engagement strategies for marketers to gain and retain customer mind share

Here are some consumer engagement strategies that can help marketers gain a competitive edge for their organization.

Explore a video on how to transform customer engagement by rethinking your web strategy

Build a brand that resonates with the consumer
Consumers are constantly on the lookout for brands whose ethos aligns with their values. They no longer want to engage with brands that are just focused on marketing their products. They want to engage with brands that prioritize sustainability, have a consistent personality, and possess a greater purpose beyond their business. By creating brands that are truly invested in ensuring the overall health and well-being of the customer, consumer health organizations can build lasting relationships with them.
Get your segmentation right to a tee
Consumers have diverse preferences when it comes to how they engage with brands. While some consumers may purely form an opinion based on the information provided on their website and positive reviews on well-known e-commerce platforms, others may rely on their experience with the product in a retail store or on their physician’s recommendation. Consumer health brands should identify smart and data-driven methods of recognizing these ever-evolving consumer preferences that help them optimize customer engagement strategies and deliver personalized solutions.
Adopt a multidimensional marketing model
Consumers are multidimensional. Their behavioral quirks, professional backgrounds, lifestyle-related factors, and paying capacities influence the type of brands they prefer. Once a brand has narrowed down a target audience segment, they need to adopt a multidimensional engagement model that delivers personalized experiences across the apt mediums and at the right time. Using the right blend of digital advertising, influencer/physician-driven engagement strategies, and elevated in-store experience augmentation initiatives can help organizations provide a well-rounded customer experience that improves their trust in the brand and its products.
Optimize your online reputation
Online reviews on the website, e-commerce platforms, and social media can make or break a brand. 86% of consumers hesitate to purchase from a business with negative reviews. The research step in the purchase journey is, therefore, considered a precarious stage in the consumer journey - a single negative review can put off a consumer from having any further interaction with the brand. Thus, collaborating with different healthcare influencers to engage with consumers through their social media handles, getting returning customers to write reviews on leading e-commerce platforms, and publishing blogs by key opinion leaders on leading health-focused platforms can help brands boost their online reputation among consumers and prevent leakages at key inflection points.
Deliver AI-powered intelligent messaging
Content has the power to win hearts or wound reputations. By leveraging the power of artificial intelligence to craft intelligent messaging that strikes the right balance between emotion and education, brands can build resilient relationships with consumers that stand the test of time and make them keep coming back for more.
Optimize your web experience
A unique, and relevant web experience is vital to building resilient connections with consumers. Ensuring that a website is easily discoverable, has an intuitive interface and uncomplicated navigation, loads quickly across devices, provides comprehensive information about the brand, and its products, and delivers a seamless checkout experience, can help brands attract the consumer’s attention and make the shopping experience pleasant and easy.
Devise and implement a data-driven performance framework
Consumer preferences evolve at the speed of light. And you need an accurate real-time insights warp engine powered by a robust data-driven performance framework to match that speed. By devising and implementing such a framework, consumer health companies can empower their marketers to refine go-to-market strategies, decipher promotional impact, and optimize marketing investments and returns. It can also help them clarify consumer personas that enable the delivery of highly engaging content and campaigns.
Elevate post-purchase engagement game
The modern-day consumer expects a holistic experience from brands that spans beyond the purchase of the product. This means that brands need to provide a superior customer experience even after the consumer has completed the purchase. They should continue engaging with the consumer on a timely basis, ask for their valuable feedback, and ensure the timely resolution of queries or complaints. Providing a memorable post-purchase experience can help brands nurture their bonds with consumers and win their trust.
Build agile organizations
The consumer path to purchase is more fluid than ever. While one consumer may purchase a product based on their favorite health influencer’s testimonial, others may require more convincing. By building agile teams and capabilities, organizations can make real-time changes to their marketing strategies and execution plans. They can devise innovative methods to engage the consumer across digital and physical mediums and finally, they can withstand the unexpected shocks relayed by the ever-evolving consumer health landscape.

In conclusion

The consumer health space is extremely competitive, and there is no magic pill that can help consumer brands gain mind share among consumers. By adopting some of the strategies covered in this blog, consumer health companies can deliver a differentiated experience to consumers and achieve better returns from their marketing initiatives.

References

1.
https://www.channelsight.com/blog/modern-consumer-journey-right-message-at-the-right-time#link1

Authors

Anuj Shah
Anuj Shah
Durgagauri Sabnis
Durgagauri Sabnis