The latest Prophet Brand Relevance Index, offers plenty of insight into what consumers find indispensable. They reward organisations that are obsessed with creating unique experiences, and their preferred brands are those that aren’t just practical and dependable, but also inspiring and inventive.
A close look at the healthcare brands we measure shows they are, to a certain extent, holding their own. But our Index also reveals dangerous weaknesses. Unless established healthcare brands act quickly, consumers are likely to abandon them wherever possible for the coming onslaught of tech disruptors.
Our Index, based on tens of thousands of consumers ranking brands on 16 key attributes, finds that healthcare providers are already extremely relevant to consumers. In fact, providers earn above-average scores in three out of four of our core relevance drivers: Customer obsession, distinctively inspired and pervasively innovative. Their only weakness is ruthless pragmatism, where they stumble on such attributes as “Is available when and where I need it” and “Delivers a consistent experience.”
Insurers, though, do poorly and lag most other brands in each of those four drivers. Their performance is especially bad in “Makes me happy,” “Is available when and where I need it,” “Delivers a consistent experience,” “Is modern and in-touch” and “I trust.” This group is led by Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana and Anthem, with only Blue Cross Blue Shield performing above the BRI average.
To some degree, the discrepancy between providers versus insurers makes perfect sense. Healthcare providers offer patients hope, care and solutions. Insurance companies are often viewed as necessary evils, sometimes seen as stubborn gatekeepers or deniers of choice.
But the BRI, which also serves as a barometer for shifting consumer preferences, indicates big trouble brewing for all healthcare brands as tech disruptors continue to tiptoe onto the field. And when we overlay our relevance findings with our research on how healthcare organisations are transforming themselves to become more patient-centric, we get a better sense of just how behind the curve most healthcare brands are.
Healthcare’s slow shift to consumer centricity
While all four drivers of relevance are equally important, we’re most concerned about healthcare’s poor performance in those areas linked to ruthless pragmatism. That’s where technology companies have been most disruptive. The top names in our Index, including Apple, Amazon and Google, all continually astound consumers with their availability, consistency and dependability.
Right now, those tech giants have made only relatively small forays into healthcare, and no one knows yet how they’ll decide to compete with traditional companies. But when they do, we’re certain they will find ways to make their offerings easy-to-use and inherently digital. They excel at eliminating pragmatic pain points, such as “Is available when and where I need it,” which is precisely where healthcare brands lag.
Providers and insurers should be looking over their shoulders, working even harder to make the shift to consumer centricity. That means becoming fully digital, leveraging data and analytics for new insights and learning to evolve more quickly. They need to strive to become true partners in people’s health journey, not a stumbling block.
At the same time, they should be working hard to sharpen their natural advantages, including the three attributes where healthcare brands shine:
Forge emotional connections
When people feel well, they’re happier and more productive. Staying healthy (and protecting their families) means everything to them. Don’t be afraid to look for more ways to ease worries, smooth aggravations and spark smiles in every step of the patient journey.
Stoke the inspiration engines
Consumers are desperate to take charge of their health–they want to eat better, sleep more deeply and exercise smarter. (It’s no surprise to us that Fitbit, a tech brand rapidly reinventing itself as a health partner, is ranked as one of the most inspiring in our Index.) Find new ways to empower and reward people for making healthy choices.
Polish your purpose
Consumers admire brands with a higher calling. They know that treating diabetes, delivering babies and encouraging wellness matter more than a pricey new gadget or a new style of sneaker. The BRI shows that making your organization’s mission and purpose more transparent, and more visible in all aspects of marketing, dramatically increases relevance.
By building on their strengths and shoring up their weaknesses, healthcare brands can leverage their unique role in consumers’ lives, becoming even more patient-centric. It’s no longer enough to meet peoples’ needs. Brands have to become indispensable, inspiring and innovative.