Business Analyst - LEADX3M
At LEADX3M we are always looking to the future by analyzing the present. We do this by conducting company, market, business model, and industry analyses in order to understand the needs, trends, competitors, and more. Once we gain a holistic understanding, we then are able to develop relevant and feasible recommendations to benefit our clients for the future. In this blog post, we will analyze the health and wellness industry, investigate WW as a player within that industry, and present recommendations for the future.
Digital health and wellness is a rapidly growing industry, projected to hit $504 billion by 2025, and is revolutionizing the way customers and healthcare professionals are approaching health, wellbeing, fitness, and nutrition, (Global Market Insights, Inc, 2019). Nowadays consumers can track anything from exercise to menstruation cycles, from heart rate to what they eat all digitally. With a “rising demand for remote monitoring services due to increasing incidences of chronic diseases,” companies have been developing technology that allows users to understand their bodies like never before, and with the “significant rise in the penetration of smartphones and other mobile apps” it has become easier for both consumers as well as health and wellness organizations to track and access information, (Grand View Research, 2019).
The health and wellness industry is both a growing and mature industry as demand has been increasing but also there are a rapidly growing number of similar products. As of 2017 there were 325,000 medical, health, and fitness apps in the market, (Grand View Research, 2019). Some competitors in the industry are FitBit, Apple, WW (formerly Weight Watchers), CVS, Aetna, Anthem, and so much more. Within the competitor framework, the majority of competitors are large organizations and franchises selling the majority of their products and services in bulk. Consumers are demanding anything that can help them understand their bodies, improve their mental and physical health, and monitor fitness progress as well. With new advancements in the industry every day, customers are seeking convenience and intuitiveness in their products. The key market players are the device manufacturers who are able to bring the original content to the consumers with greater ease.
WW is a company that has “reimagined” itself based on the growing trends in the wellness industry. They have created a digital enterprise where technology is at the forefront, allowing users to achieve weight loss through the help of technology from its previous pen-and-paper tracking and strictly in-person meetings, (Weight Watchers , 2020).
Technology companies have an opportunity in the health and wellness industry as it is not only incredibly large and profitable, but also “recession proof,” (Best, 2019). Growing trends in the mental health and fitness spheres, also make the industry lucrative. While all areas of the industry are growing rapidly, the fastest growing seems to be wearable technology and mobile applications. Providers are constantly looking for ways to decrease costs and with the spread of new technology, a way to do so is to shift from “treating diseases to preventing them,” (Best, 2019). There is especially a great opportunity for existing health and wellness franchises to pivot from how they have traditionally treated patients and clients, and to drive business and success through scaling by means of technology. In doing so, there is also the opportunity for those organizations to efficiently gather data to understand and market to their customer base better, as well as profit by extracting value from it.
In the case of WW, when customers continually are using the application to its full capabilities, the company is able to better tailor their program to customers and even improve the overall quality of the service. For example, users are tracking all their food and activity for the week and then weighing in. The company can now see how their clients’ behaviors have affected their weight loss or gain. Furthermore, with thousands of clients’ data, they can look for patterns that can help them to improve the program further.
Companies in the health and wellness industry are able to expand their offerings and create room for new profit models and earnings logics. In the case of WW and their WW Mobile application, they are now able to offer more solutions to customers as well as convenience. Before, there were only in-person workshops, and the tracking of food was done manually with pen and paper. With their app, users can scan barcodes within the grocery stores to see how certain foods fit into their diet plan. They are also able to take an online assessment of themselves and the application will tailor a diet plan that fits best into their lifestyle. Additionally, the company has been able to pivot during the global pandemic (COVID-19), moving in-person meetings, to Zoom and amplifying the social aspects of their app to keep support and interest high.
In the past, members paid only for the workshops. Now with the company’s application, they have expanded into new profit models. Customers can sign up solely for the application and pay a smaller amount or bundle digital with the in-person experience and support of the workshops, (Weight Watchers , 2020). Another bundle option is personal coaching and digital, where clients can get personalized advice both online and in person. The company has already formed value-creating alliances by partnering with companies specializing in wearable devices to track activity and fitness, while WW’s expertise remains in nutrition. Some of these alliances include FitBit, Garmin, Apple Health, DailyBurn, and more.
While WW typically reaches a customer base of individuals who are focused on losing weight, they, as well as other digital health companies, have opportunities to reach some customer segments that are typically overlooked. For example, there is nowhere online or in the assessment that allows a user to indicate whether they are pregnant or breastfeeding. As it is important for expecting mothers to remain healthy for their babies, there is an opportunity to tailor the app’s plan to this, while putting less focus on weekly “weigh-ins,” especially since weight gain is to be anticipated by mothers.
A blog post on Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare has stated that “while data shows that US women are more consistently engaged in their healthcare decisions than men, digital solutions for reproductive healthcare were lacking,” (Wirthman, 2019). WW has an opportunity to capitalize on this market segment by helping pregnant and breastfeeding women to stay healthy during their pregnancies and to use the social functionality of the application to connect expectant mothers with one another. The company can take it a step further as well by focusing on helping expectant mothers with negative body image, depression, and anxiety, something that is incredibly common throughout pregnancy, (Wirthman, 2019)
Regulation & Other Factors
Customers of WW and other health and wellness companies operating in the digital health sphere may find it increasingly more difficult for health to be regulated with the growth of technology. With institutions like the Department of Health and Services and the FDA, medicines as well as healthcare employees can be monitored within the physical space. However, while technology development enables future growth, with more competitors entering the market, fraudulent players and applications as well as misdiagnoses and misinformation may also increase. Similarly, there are ethical implications on how the distribution of health and wellness data should be handled as the industry grows. With more data being easily accessible, privacy issues and abuses of power could also arise. The industry has great opportunities in the coming years, but will also grapple with ethical responsibilities in the fast-changing environment.